Thursday, December 11, 2008
Walking through my garden a few weeks ago, I had an idea to make some leaf panels from leaves collected from various plants. I happened to be walking by the alder trees, Alnus rhombifolia, I planted about three years ago as young saplings. I was happy to see the trees are maturing enough to produce catkins. The white alder is a fast growing tree, up to 30 inches a year, and it can tolerate a moist soil. The alder is also a native tree and can be seen growing along streams throughout the West Coast.
I impressed the leaves and catkins into the clay surface. Later I removed the leaves and was pleasantly surprised to see the leaves had colored the clay a pale green from the chlorophyll they contained. How could I do any better than nature at capturing the subtle green of the leaves. I knew the color would burn out in the kiln, so I set about using some green under glazes to paint the leaves on the panel.
Here are a couple of other leaf panels I made. First I gathered leaves from a fern growing in a pot by the studio and impressed the leaves into clay. The fern leaves are a bit tattered from the heat of the summer, but I figured that's part of nature. For the next panel I picked some sage leaves, impressed them in porcelain clay, cut them out, and attached them to a black clay panel. Sage leaves don't grow on a branch or in a row like I have them here, but I've taken a bit of artistic license in order to utilize these leaves in the panel format. I have lots of different glazing techniques in mind for these two panels and several others I have made.
Today was the last day for this set of classes, so I've left all of the panels I made drying in a cabinet. I'll be returning to them at the end of January so there will be a slight delay in showing you what becomes of them. In the meantime, I'll be working on several other clay projects over the next several weeks, so stay tuned.