Thursday, December 30, 2010

Legacy of a Thousand Years: the Ceramics of Tonala'

Over the holidays, I had a chance to once again visit the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. I was blown away by the current exhibit, "Legacy of a Thousand Years: the Ceramics of Tonala'." The pieces in the exhibition were made by contemporary potters working in the Tonala tradition, using ancient Pre-Columbian techniques and imagery, but in a fresh, lively and conceptual manner. I was especially impressed by the work of Jose' Luis Cortez Hernandez, who combined color, imagery and form in a way I've only dreamed of doing on my own pots.

I hoped to purchase an exhibition catalog so I could study the designs and the represented artists further, but when I found none available, I resigned to internet searches. To my dismay, the artists represented do not seem to have much of a web presence. I did find a nice tour blog which had great pictures of the work of Salvador Vazquez Carmona and his studio. The state of Jalisco and the town of Tonala' are definitely on my short list of places I want to visit.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Website -GO!

Finally got my website up and running through Other People's Pixels (Thanks Helen for the nudge)! Check it out:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Word of the Day: Slather

I have been yearning for more depth in my surfaces and wanted to share a recently fired tumbler. This cup is all about the layering process. I brushed on horizontal stripes of terra sig, waxed the whole tumbler, incised vertical lines and inlayed a red iron oxide wash before bisque firing. After the bisque, I applied circular stickers and dunked the tumbler in two separate transparent glazes. After firing to cone 6 in an electric kiln, I decided to take it to temperature again which encouraged more running and dripping of the blue transparent glaze. I really slathered everything on this cup. I think I am getting closer to the kind of surface depth I want to achieve. Now to learn to control the effects of this process, successfully combine it with my imagery and develop a more personal color palette. I know what I'm going to be doing for the holidays.

"Three terra sigs, two transparent glazes, one black underglaze and a partridge in a pear tree"

Happy December!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Swimming Pools

Living in my Grandview Heights neighborhood in West Palm Beach, I can't help but be fascinated by backyard swimming pools. Many are hidden by privacy fences or shrubbery, but the sound of running water tells me where to look.

I cooked up an idea for a salt and pepper swimming pool scene where a bather is the pepper container and a pool floatie serves as the salt cellar. While researching pool shapes, I ran across this 1960s swimming pool ashtray for the smoking swimmer by Anthony Pools. Swimming pool culture was born during the 1960s. I have always loved the swimming pool scenes in "The Graduate" and I have just put "The Swimmer" (Burt Lancaster film) in my Netflix que. Based on the Anthony Pools marketing gimmick, I see I am not the only one to ever make a connection between swimming pools and functional ceramics. Check out my finished salt and pepper set here.

Finished Vase

So here is the finished vase seen earlier in progress. The other vase form ended up in the Faculty Show at the Armory.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Going Vertical

I haven't incorporated any squirrel drawings with vertical forms until last weekend when I worked up a couple of vases. I can't wait to finish this form and test it out with some rangy wildflowers!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beyond the Squirrel: Explorations of Imagery

For the record, I have not broken up with the squirrel. We are just seeing other people. He still occupies a lot of space inside my creative brain, but I am exploring other vehicles of storytelling. Since I have been in West Palm Beach at the Armory Art Center, I have been exploring themes of water and self image. The platter here was created on a hump mold with craft foam relief (for the outline and the waves). The surface is mishima and underglaze. The soft square of the platter refers to a comic window or a retro television screen. The little girl in the background wears the same colors as the older woman in the foreground. I want the viewer to question their relationship. Are they related? Are they the same person? Are we looking into the past or the future or both? The back of the platter (not pictured here) contains another image that contributes to the story.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hearts, Hoops and Hang-ups

During my last few weeks at UF, I was working on a series about jumping through hoops. (Those of you in academia: can you relate?) I was talking with friends about the artificiality of those hoops and in my sketchbook, I started exploring ideas about the hoops being objects, such as a diamond ring, to symbolize status or betrothal. On the pots, I decided to go with the cliche' of a heart. He gets hung up on the heart while trying to jump through it.

I just got this one out of a kiln at the Armory tonight. I have several more of these to glaze and I will be experimenting with color. Stay tuned!

Stig Lindberg

I have had a bit of a crush on the work of Swedish designer Stig Lindberg (1916-1982) for a while now. Here are some of his mid-century 2-D and 3-D designs which exemplify his love of graphic art, pattern, line, and color.

Monday, August 9, 2010


While at the dog park yesterday, I met a woman whose husband hand-painted billboards for a living all over south Florida. His specialty was the coppertone girl--you know, the one whose dog is tugging on her bathing suit. His specialized skills became obsolete with the rise of mass-produced digitized and vinyl billboards.

Old hand-painted signs, like the one in the photo I snapped from a building in Beatrice, Nebraska, have always intrigued me. I am impressed by the large-scale format, the texture of the brick, the lack of transfer techniques, and the danger of the job. Although I have no idea what the farmer originally looked like, I can't help but wonder if it has become more beautiful with time. For more information on billboards and their history, check out how billboards are made.

While painting the nursery mural a few weeks ago, I tried to channel one of my favorite artists, Margaret Kilgallen, whose murals were inspired by hand-painted signs.

For a visual feast of hand-painted signs of the world, check out this flickr set.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

True Love = Clean Plate Club

Jack Sprat would eat no fat

His wife would eat no lean

And so between the two of them

They licked the platter clean.

I love Lucienne Day’s interpretation of this classic symbiotic tale on a dish towel. Day reduces the form of Jack and his wife to simple geometric shapes and patterns. She further emphasizes form with colored blocks left-of-center, allowing heads and appendages to break free of the borders. Jack’s spindliness is restated with a thin grey rectangle. His portly wife (unfortunately nameless but appearing unaffected.---happy even) receives a tangerine square. Their relationship is symbolized when their representative colors intertwine on one single dinner plate. Happy relationships are usually represented by a clich├ęd heart. I love how Day uses a dinner plate as an unconventional symbol of love between a chubby lady and her balding man. Jack shrugs as if to say, “whatever works!”

I first became aware of British textile artist Lucienne Day when visiting the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center exhibition, "Designing Women of Postwar Britain." For more information on this exhibition, visit the website here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Without A Studio: What to Do?

At the end of July, I embarked upon a project for a little boy's nursery in Gainesville. The parents had used the Pottery Barn Jungle Friends bedding and accessories. Pottery Barn sells wall decals for over $119/each. The parents liked the look of the decals, but wanted a customized job that incorporated all of the walls. They also wanted jungle vines which were not available as decals. I worked with the parents to come up with sketches and colors that would compliment the existing motifs on the bedding and wall valance. Together, we sized and placed the images on the wall using a projector. The clients had very specific ideas of what they wanted the nursery to look like. This made my job much easier and because we had very open communication, I knew that they would be pleased with the end result.

The project took about 3 times longer than I anticipated. Between the consultations, design work and painting, the whole project took about 50 hours.

I learned a lot through this process. In the future, it will make the most business sense to stick to an hourly wage. I will be cautious about accepting "pay by the job" rates. I will also be sure to ask about travel distance and figure travel time into my estimates. Time is money! I will also ask about wall condition and texture. Crisp lines are not impossible, but they take much longer when the wall is textured. Luckily the clients for this project had the walls professionally painted a pale yellow prior to my job.

The project was gratifying, especially since I do not have access to a studio right now. Working large scale in a 2D format, I kept thinking about installations and how I could incorporate similar motifs and composition into a show about functional pottery. I would definitely consider a mural project again in my future.

Monday, June 7, 2010

a Virtual Sketchbook

Welcome to my virtual sketchbook, DeBuse-on-the-Loose. A silly name for a light-hearted blog. It seems fitting, since my work is about play. The name also refers to my recent exodus from academia. After fulfilling the requirements for an MFA degree from the University of Florida this spring, I officially graduated. DeBuse is on the loose!

Many artists utilize the ease of blogging to record ideas and inspiration, as well as a means to showcase studio evolutions. I have decided to follow suit. I will be working on transferring the links on Craft and the artist links from my current blog, to this one.
I will be without a studio from July - September, so it will give me a chance to fine-tune my web presence, finally launching my website, Stay tuned!