Color in Context

One of the motivations for my interest in clay is color. 10 or so years ago I serendipitously discovered the tension between the turquoise (oribe) and iron red (shino) glazes that I was using at the time. This led me to a better understanding of the paintings of Josef Albers and Mark Rothko which, in turn, further influenced my work. Ever since, I have been interested in the interplay between colors and finding ways that color can draw attention to a pot and beckon someone to use it.

Redart terra sig on left, Watershed sig on right

In regards to color and its context, I have a twist on the idea that is about the color of raw materials rather than finished work. This story goes back to Watershed and the color of the raw brick clay. We all noticed that it is a medium gray color with a little olive green added – different from the red that we expect when we think of earthenware clay. The reason for the color, as I understand it, is that it contains a lot of organic material from 40 years of sitting on the hillside and all the time before that when it was part of a river bed. But in that context where it is native and most of us were working with it, it was completely normal. The shocking moment at Watershed was when I pulled out a bag of the Laguna clay that I use at home and made a dish with it. After our eyes had been trained by the color of the Watershed clay, this red clay looked intensely red and intensely bright.

I brought some unfired work home from Watershed as well as a couple of quarts of the terra sigillata that I made with the Watershed clay. I decided to use some of the H2Oshed sig on one of the pieces that I was finishing yesterday afternoon. When I opened the container the opposite contextual shock occurred. Inside the yogurt container was a strange liquid the color of split peas and kale pureed together.  For a second, I wasn’t sure that I even knew what was in the container.  Of course, once the clay and sig are fired they are terra cotta red.

I’ll post some examples of fired work later this week when it comes out of the kiln.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s