Sunday, May 27, 2012

RAZED Exhibit is Coming Together!

 My "factotum" this week was Royane Mosley. Boy was I lucky to find a sculptor, with her own electric screwdriver, who was naive enough to offer to "help" install. It was a nine hour process (minus the quick trip to the Tavern!).

 "RAZED" has been installed at Mulholland Gallery/Lubec Landmarks, minus a few details. 

A solo exhibition by downeast Potter, Sculptor and Weaver Shanna Wheelock, featuring a seven foot ceramic installation commemorating the lost factory industry of Lubec, Maine

June 1-19, 2012
Mulholland Gallery / Lubec Landmarks
50 Water Street
Lubec, Maine

Gallery Hours
Thursday-Tuesday 10-4
(closed Wednesdays)

Saturday, June 2
2:00-4:00 p.m.
A preview of work in exhibit:

Collector's Series
Mugs with herring, sardines, and weirs
Shanna Wheelock, 2012

Collector's Series
Herring Platter
Shanna Wheelock, 2012

Column Vessels
(imprinted with authentic defunct Lubec factory shingles)
Shanna Wheelock, 2012

Bouli loves spring!

"Crash, clink,  bam, oh Sh*t!". Well, with the help of my artist friend Royane, the installation sculpture was finally assembled yesterday. A few minutes into the process, all that could be heard were cracks and clinks as the ceramic shingles broke, followed by a few unmentionable expletives. 

Eventually we got the hang of it and the broken pile began to slow a bit. Thankfully I had made extras of each size, but was also shocked to discover that I had somehow missed making the 1 1/4" shingles altogether. We were able to finagle things a bit and all turned out fine. The seven foot sculpture is now installed and happily, the rest of the show went up this afternoon. 


I still need to make the wall tags and handouts, then Friday I will begin prep for the opening reception which takes place Saturday June 2. I'm really looking forward to that day as family will visit from central Maine. Yey!

I've been so caught up in functional production pottery these past couple years that I really enjoyed making these one-of-a-kind carved collector's pieces. It has sparked renewed dedication in me to make sure that I take the time to do this with my pottery work. I do love the production, but the artist in me wants to take things a step further. 

It was such a treat to see the exhibit up tonight. My work is usually clumped in a messy studio and I don't have a chance to appreciate each piece. The gallery offers clean white walls with breathing room between pieces. I guess it's been a while since I have done a solo show and had forgotten how much a difference the space can make. 

Short blog this week, still much to do. What a beautiful weekend it has been! I hope that everyone was able to spend some time outdoors.  And...if in Lubec area next weekend, please do join us at the reception on Saturday!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Shingles are Stained and Ready to be Assembled!

 This is what 330+ bisque-fired clay shingles look like.

 Thank the fates that Lisa Tyson Ennis (photographer extraordinaire!) could be wrangled into a bit of assembly line work for a few hours on this sunny spring day.  She applied a coat of iron oxide to each of the clay shingles while I worked at a nearby table to rinse them.

The finished shingles: a coastal/weathered appearance.

 Kiln loaded with glazed ware and fired today. 
I can't wait to see the results tomorrow afternoon! 
The shingle-textured columns are some of my fave pieces in a long time - and if all goes well with the firing, they will be in the exhibit at Lubec Landmarks/Mulholland Gallery.

The herring-themed sake sets are fired and will be in the show at Landmarks. I've also made collectors' mugs with carved herring, as well as a larger chalice-type vessel and a rectangular jug. If work dries in time, I also made a medium size vase and a platter with carved herring as well.

I'm grabbing an hour or so before bed to do a blog entry. I missed blogging last week and this past weekend slipped away without any opportunity to write. I have been near nonstop busy with the finishing details for "Razed" and am just now feeling like it is starting to come together. 

I don't know if it is like this for other artists or not, but it often takes a long time for me to "be okay with" or to "like" an artwork that I am working on. I have moments during the process where I think things are looking good, then moments of extreme dislike or worry that all the hours are for naught. I question choices constantly and all too familiar is the "do-ever" when things don't go as planned.

These shingles have plagued me for the past five months. The original idea for the installation piece involved sardine cans, herring, and smokehouse images. It was too complex in idea and I ultimately decided to narrow down to what spoke to me. Shingles. Sounds simple. Yes, you would think. But it became anything but.

I eventually came up with a system for texturing and cutting the 330+ shingles needed for "Razed" and for many weeks I looked at a pile of drying grey-blah-looking slabs. Then they dried enough to be fired. So, then I looked at a pile of drying white-blah-looking slabs.

Today, finally, the staining began. With the help of my shingle-staining sidekick, Lisa (Thank you, Lisa!) 330+ clay slabs turned into four boxes of grey-weathered shingles. I love them! I even have favorite shingles because of a particular knot or striping.

I think that when people see the sculpture in finished form they might think that it was a relatively simple process. The truth is, however, that to get to this finished "simple" look, there were a lot of steps and a lot of problem solving was needed. Sizing, for example, is not a simple task when shrinkage has to be taken into consideration. Choices like nails versus screws versus glue to install took some consideration as well. Then, figuring out what would work within the space I would be showing then how to store the sculpture after the exhibit affected some of the decisions on final design.

So, today, I am LOVING the results and am eager to begin the assemblage. The show opens on June 1st and the opening reception is on June 2nd. Over Memorial Weekend I will begin the installation then hang the rest of the show a few days later. 330+ shingles (x) one to two screws the math. That's a whole heck of a lot of screwing to be done. (um, did I just say that?) Thankfully I have another artist friend who has offered to help!!!!!

Aside from the installation sculpture, I still have other work to finish for the exhibit. It seems that I'll be burning the midnight oil for another two weeks.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Upcoming Show and Furious Studio Production

Shanna Wheelock,  Downeast potter, sculptor, and weaver, presents a solo exhibition of multi-media works featuring "Razed", a seven-foot ceramic installation commemorating the lost factory industry of Lubec.

Lubec Landmarks
June 1-19, 2012
50 Water Street, Lubec, Maine
Gallery Hours: 10 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Thursday-Tuesday
(closed Wednesdays)

Opening Reception
Saturday, June 2, 2012
2:00-4:00 p.m.  

"Lubec Landmarks, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 to restore and maintain the McCurdy smokehouse complex, and to preserve the region’s maritime and fishing heritage to the benefit of the town and visitors seeking to understand the commercial and cultural significance of the herring smoking and sardine canning industry in Lubec." (excerpt from their website)

 Over 330 clay shingles in nine different sizes have been made for the installation sculpture that will be featured at the Landmarks show in June. The sculpture will be installed on-site during the week preceding the opening.

Some slab work pieces for the show. What I love most about the "column vessels" is their fragility despite appearing so sturdy. The texture was created by pressing an authentic defunct Lubec factory shingle into the clay. The jug on the left features a hand-carved herring.

Following along the shingle theme, I also made a smaller wall piece. The mini shingles are each textured with an authentic Lubec factory shingle.

 Carved sake cups (with herring theme) to match the sake bottles that I made two weeks ago.

Bisque ware is piling up! 
I plan to do a major glazing marathon next weekend and hopefully will soon after have all outstanding orders filled and shipped so that I can fully focus on the Landmarks show.

 The past few days I have been tethered to my cave. Well, not literally but metaphorically. It seems that I have barely seen the light as I saunter from kiln, to table, to wheel, to clay pile. I have been in one of those focused tunnel-vision sort of artist modes as deadlines loom. The reality of being a production potter and exhibiting artist is smacking me upside the head. There is no such thing as an eight hour workday; I don't put down the tools when the clock strikes 5:00. Still, it is not drudgery. I love what I do and am thankful for passion and inspiration that keeps me in the studio from sunrise until bedtime.

I am breathing easier since pressing and cutting the 300+ shingles for the installation, but still, they all need to be fired and then finished with a stain or paint. I hope to have the remainder of the shingles fired by mid week and a test sample done so that I can make a final decision on the finished surface treatment. It's six of one, half dozen of another as far as time involved. Either way, it will be a frenzied mess as I near toward the finish line.

I have taken to making slab-formed vessels in the shape of columns. The texture on these mini replicas mimics the cedar shingle grooves found on the larger installation piece that I have been working on. The seven foot sculpture will be quite hefty. When finished, I estimate that it will weigh upwards of 150 lbs or more. The column vessels, ranging in height from six to sixteen inches, are on the other hand, quite delicate. They have a sturdy and stable appearance, but in the hand, possess a fragility that defies their symbolism.

I have been enjoying the carving, too. I love to carve into clay but since the production pottery has picked up I seldom find time to do it. What I have discovered is that the artist and the potter in me is always present when either is at the forefront. For example, when creating pottery, the artist in me wants to individualize each piece even though production tends to be about creating multiples of the same item. On the other hand, when sculpting, I tend to gravitate toward multiples of the same item, like with my grenade sculptures or the current installation piece that involves over 300 smaller components, all of which are essentially the same item. I just find it interesting how these two parts of my personality overlap and that never, it seems, that the potter and the sculptor do part.

The cave is warming now and I will begin my studio session with a few thrown items. I will try out my new hydrobats and spend some time carving onto items that I threw this past weekend. Then onto the less glamorous business-related paperwork types of things. Gorgeous day brewing outside, birds are singing, sun shining. Though tethered to cave, I will perhaps open the doors wide and enjoy the warmth of spring.