by Kip O'Krongly
When I began my first experiments with earthenware back in 2008, I started as simply as possible: red clay, white slip, sgraffito drawing and a clear glaze. I had done a great deal of drawing throughout my life, but for some reason, it took a shift to earthenware to merge my love of imagery and my passion for clay.
From the moment I scratched into my first leatherhard piece and watched an image emerge, I was entranced. Sgraffito became my go-to technique, and in many ways still is. But as the surfaces developed, I began to search for other ways to delve into my newfound love of surface and clay. After much experimentation, stencils took center stage in my process repertoire. And stenciling combined with sgraffito – oh my! Recently, I’ve added latex into the mix – allowing for “liquid stencils” which makes it possible for me to easily mask out areas or add fluid layers.
With all of these surface explorations, one aspect that has evolved very little since 2008 is my use of color. Much like those early days, I have kept things simple – just a few slip colors (primarily grey and turquoise with a pop of canary yellow here and there) created by staining my white slip with mason stains. Which brings me to the work I’ve posted on Objective Clay and an exciting new direction – color! While it may seem like a small change to add in a few more slip colors and some new underglazes, to me it feels like a refreshing jolt of life into my work. And while I still love the simplicity of the red and white pieces, I’m excited by how a splash of teal or orange can round out my body of pots.
A few years ago, I heard an interview of John Stewart by Teri Gross on Fresh Air. As they discussed the process for creating each show, I was struck by the following quote from Stewart:
I'm a real believer in that creativity comes from limits, not freedom. Freedom, I think you don't know what to do with yourself. But when you have a structure, then you can improvise off it and feel confident enough to come back to that.
While I am working on an entirely different plane than The Daily Show, I felt an immediate connection to this concept of setting limits. By keeping things simple and defined, I’ve found the freedom to explore ideas without becoming stifled by the endless options of surface treatments. But I’m now to a point where I feel ready for a new variable, excited to expand my palate and delighted to share this new direction with you!