by Bryan Hopkins
About two years ago I started making pendant lights for both a wholesale and retail market. They are based on my love of color field painting, and are made using stained, low fire porcelain. I like making them, and they are unique- two necessities in my sticking with a form for more than a year. At the time I first designed these simple shades I was resolved to make just pendant lights, and to keep the low fire porcelain separate from my other studio production of cone 10 utilitarian and sculptural vessels.
BUT things have not quite gone as I planned. In the past year I have tweeked the formula of the low fire porcelain to be able to hand build without cracking, and tweeked some more in order to slip cast the stuff. What I have come up with are pendant lights that look like something I would make, not like a possibility of what a color field painter would produce. And I am much more comfortable with them looking like me. The walls are thin to fully exploit the translucence of the porcelain, and the bulb selection was made to have a white light (I am using daylight, compact flourescent or LED bulbs, 60 watt equivalent). The result is something I am interested in pursuing, and does not require being picked up like, say, a cup in order to appreciate the weight and translucence of the material.
These pendants are made with slip-cast slabs, and texture is added with bisque molds. If you are interested please check out a previous post I wrote about the process. The piece pictured here is about 6” x 8.5”.
As lighting will make or break my work, I am becoming more interested in having a constant light source built in to the sculptural vessels, in order to maximize the translucence of the pieces, as opposed to leaving it to a gallery or end user to light a piece correctly. Not that I want everything to be a lamp of some kind, but close.
If you are interested in porcelain lighting, or just my process of making in general, I am teaching a 2 day workshop (hands-on) at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia on October 3 & 4. And opening October 2 at The Clay Studio is a show I curated called Light for the Dark Months, which are all pendant lights by 9 different makers: Lynn Berman, Karen Swyler, Carol Snyder, Bianka Groves, Jennifer McCurdy, Aaron Nelson, Joe Gower, Colleen Toledano, and me.