Friday, October 15, 2010

A Thousand Dots

The other night I was almost out of terra cotta clay I've been using for some architectural and sculptural pieces. It was late so I decided to make a quick vase. I used a texture cloth, made a vase about 11 x 5 inches, and started to clean up.

After I made the vase, though, I thought it wouldn't take me long to add a coil down the joining seam. Then I decided it needed some cross pieces to make it look like it was a coat or cloak opening. Then I added a coil at the top and bottom of the vase. I was finally finished with the vase and I started putting away my tools.

As I was looking at the texture of the vines and flowers on the vase I thought just a little color would be good. So I painted some blue stained slip on the flowers. After I added the blue I thought to myself, those flowers look good, but the blue is rather stark all by itself. I should add another color.

So I added some orange which doesn't look very orange in the photo. Hope it fires a nice color. Dip, dip, dipping my paint brush in the colored slip, over and over again, minutes turned into an hour, and more. Applying dots, dots, and more dots onto the clay.

Then there were a few textures which I thought could use some definition so I added lavender. That was just what it needed, and I was finally done. But then I'm thinking what about the leaves, they're so bare, compared to all the rest of the texture. I had no green mixed up, so I mixed up a small amount of green slip.

Late into the night I was wondering what I had done, I'd made a vase which "told me" what it wanted, a thousand dots of color. I was thinking I know I'll never make one of these again. As I put all my slip colors away I thought about how pieces I make often turn out completely different than I originally intend them.

The simple vase I thought I was going to make evolved into a multicolored, almost Moravian or redware mosaic style vase of a thousand dots. Well, maybe not a thousand dots, but at least hundreds of slip dots applied over and over again. This morning I was thinking, wouldn't the inside of a bowl look good with this same type of slipped dot design. I guess there's really no hope for me, a thousand dots must have mesmerized me.


  1. even though you used many colors on this vase, my first impression (because of it's design) was henna... i can't wait to see it finished!

  2. Facinating how your mind took such creative twists. Sounds almost addictive and the vase just wasn't through with you. Has it finally turned you loose?
    I too want to see the finished product.

  3. Hi Michele, thanks, henna, I always think of henna as a hair dye, not sure what the reference is?

    Hi Patti, thanks, it turned my loose finally late into the night. Not sure I'll put a glaze on the outside, but maybe I will. kind of like the natural look of the clay.

  4. Hi Michele, thanks, I just looked up henna and didn't realize it was used as a dye for hands and other body parts similar to tattoos, very interesting, I'll have to read up on it some more, perhaps I've seen it and never realized it.

  5. The dots make you crazy Linda, I know, I have dots every day. Just finishing a set of tail feathers on a tile right now, will post it tonight (in about 5 hours).
    Keep dotting, it looks good, I use a hair dye bottle as a trailer, I have absolutely NO idea where it could have come from (this bit is a complete lie by the way) the nozzle is just the right diameter and I sieve through a 200 mesh before hand for really smooth slip. This is so much quicker than a paint brush and you can work with the slip quite thickly and create a braille like surface then.

  6. Hi Kitty, thanks, somehow I always imagine your work as painted with the brushes, I must look more closely at it. I should have taken a photo of the vase before I applied the dots and you would see the pattern.

    I have one of those hair dye bottles but never used it, after I put these dots on I thought I might try a slip trailer bottle and it would be quicker and more even dots.

    I used to do petit point needle point and I loved it, perhaps it is the mediative quality of applying the dots over and over again that got me into a rhythm and I somehow didn't mind it.

    The braille surface appeals to me. I was even thinking of making a mug or tumbler with a dotted surface this morning.

    Thanks for the tips on dotting! Ha.

  7. once you start there is no stopping-- there are always room for more and more.....

  8. Your passion expanding into the wee hours of the morning! The sign of a true artist! Love it! The vase is absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to see it finished!

  9. Hi Meredith, thanks, I think you are correct about that.

    HI Marguerite, thanks, I can't wait to see what the colors do too. Actually it was fun once I got going.


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