Thursday June 3rd was the official first day of my residency at Medalta Potteries in Medicine Hat, AB. It's extremely sunny and hot here, and my molds are very dry and the test tiles I made yesterday are already ready to be bisqued.
Aaron Nelson, one of the technicians here, took all of the summer residents for a tour of the old ceramic factory where they made toliets and pottery and other functional objects. It was fascinating, and extremely inspiring. After the tour, everyone was so motivated that they got straight to work as soon as they got their clay.
Seeing Plainsman was a blast from the past for me because from 2005 to 2008, I worked at the Edmonton branch called Plainsman Pottery. It's where I first learned about ceramics, and while working there I frequently had to call the main office in Medicine Hat to talk to the accounts receivable lady there named Irene.
Well, I finally got to meet Irene in person, nine years later! Of course she remembered me (I won the hockey pool that year, as I recall), and we had a good laugh. We also met Tony Hansen, the author and owner of Digitalfire Corporation, the world leader in chemistry and database software used by ceramic artists (but also engineers and technicians from the ceramic manufacturing world).
After Plainsman, we went to Hycroft, which consisted of Medicine Hat Potteries production plant and also Hycroft China Ltd.
Aaron was nice enough to let some of take some Medalta historical moulds for our own work -I found a beautiful one piece mold which I think was originally supposed to be a flower vase... it is going to be a large piece but I'd like to cast a few of them assembled together. This has proven difficult with drying times in this climate, but that's for another blog post.
For the past few months I have been working on slip casting some urchin forms. In preparation for my exhibition in the fall, I have started producing a new body of work. The conceptual underpinnings of this work follows a logical trajectory from my previous practice, creating naturally inspired objects. The current manifestation involves casting consumer objects that are replicas of nature. In this piece, I found a porcelain urchin at an interior design store and cast that. So in a sense, these objects are facsimiles of facsimiles of nature.
I bought the insides for the flowers from a fancy kitchen store, they are supposed to be cherry blossom bottle stoppers. They fit perfectly over the steel rods, and they fit with the idea of using consumer objects that have been manufactured to look like nature.