Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mulberry Paper Day

Somehow I ended up with a Friday with nothing planned. With Christmas over, my extended family back in Wisconsin and New Hampshire and Seattle and my classwork prepared for the start of the quarter next week, I didn't NEED to do anything right away. My work is mostly installed for Yakima River Diaries at Central and I made plans to go up with more work on Saturday. Friday became a bonus day for me (shh, don't tell anyone). I decided to spend the day how I wanted to, finishing work from summers ago while watching a Bones marathon on Netflix.

I have a box in my studio that was completely ignored all summer and all year. I believe I packed it in 2012, but it may have been 2011. It has cobwebs on top. I can barely remember some of the work, like this piece below, and I don't remember when it was all made.

Progress on the pod piece after green paper was added but before purple. I don't appear to have a picture before the whole piece was started. I have no idea when the piece was originally built and fired
All the work was in the box because there was something wrong with it. The piece on top (which I didn't get to) was simply not finished. I had intended to add some parts after firing but never got around to it. The pieces on the next level were damaged, repaired or had glaze chipping problems. All the pieces in the box required either mulberry paper or epoxy additions. None of the pieces in the box were actually broken, though they may have had chips or may have had broken pieces repaired previously.

The underglaze application on this piece does not please me. As I covered more with mulberry paper, I wanted to alter even the colors on the interior pieces.

The pieces I chose to work on this time around were ones that I wanted to put mulberry paper on. The last was one I had always intended to put paper on. I made it this summer and was looking for the right paper (thanks Mom and Dad). Several pieces in the box had glaze flaws that I wanted to cover. The pod above one had an epoxy seam I wanted to cover as well as some sub-par glazing.

I think the mulberry paper adds an interesting textural contrast to the hard ceramic and shiny glaze, but I have only relatively recently begun planning its use while I build. Most of the work in the box predates my conscious incorporation of mulberry paper and other materials into the design from the beginning.

An additional motivating factor for doing mulberry paper today was that my parents got me some mulberry paper for Christmas. They got me quite a lot, actually, including some bags of scrap papers and some large sheets. It is a bit hard to find mulberry paper in Yakima, but my parents live right near NASCO's Arts and Craft store and its amazing catalog leftovers room.

I have organized the scraps by color groups in these boxes. It feels better than scraps wadded up in a shoe box.
One of the advantages of someone giving me paper is that I am forced to work with what I have. I knew that I wanted to cover the outside layer of this pod and the top bulbs or buds, but my limited choice in purple scraps forced me to consider making each bud a different shade or texture of purple. In the end, I think the variety is better than making each one identical in tone.

I used four different types of purple paper scraps from my Christmas gift.

Actually, I think part of the appeal of the applied mulberry paper is the variety that comes from the handmade paper. The paper is textured and has longer, thicker or different colored fibers visible within the paper. It would be terrible paper for writing evenly with in, but it is interesting to look at. It seems more natural in a way that, I think, highlights the almost-natural look of my forms.

The opposite is true, too. Not all the paper I have has as much variation. In one lidded box I covered entirely in light blue scraps, I am disappointed with how uniform the surface appears. The box suffers the triple problem of having more uniform paper, more transparent paper, and a large surface to cover. I ended up layering the mulberry two or three times but have lost most of the minimal fiber variation in the process. I am considering another approach to add some variation. My daughter has suggested I paint pink lines on the surface, but I may not take her advice in this instance.

These blue scraps are nice, but make the box look oddly like a fuzzy cloud. I'm not sure this piece is finished.

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