Artist Info

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About the process   A little history

Artist Statement

MikkelI've just finished squeezing, pushing on, and otherwise molding a piece of clay. I pause to reflect on it and see a personality, a new creature looking back at me. It doesn't have to do with its physical eye, which some of my pieces have, but with its whole character. For me creating is a process of exploring my inner-world and imagination and then recognizing it as both whole and separate.

I envision my pieces being incorporated into daily life. Too often our culture separates art and secular life. Many cultures that have not interfaced with technology intertwine their art with objects of regular use. This practice exposes more people to beauty and creativity, and thereby enriches their lives.

I am also attracted to the idea of the Tea Ceremony where ceramics are used in a functional manner that is just beyond every day use. The function of the piece takes on a ritual quality because it is set apart from daily routine, yet remains accessible. For these reasons I am intrigued to make functional art for special occasions, celebrations, and ritual.

My creative process tends to be whimsical and playful, inspired by early influences of Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. This provides a respite for my mind and spirit from the harshness and tragedy that often characterize our world. My hope is that in some small way my creations will do this for others as well.
About the process

Most of my time is spent after the hand-shaping of my ceramic-ware. The decorative process involves anywhere from four to fourteen layers of underglaze color (a non-glossy ceramic paint). I mostly work with an airbrush and stencils or wax resist. For my larger items, say a Tea-Pot, I need to "think backwards" to achieve a sense of depth. This means that the shapes and colors that appear closer to the viewer need to be airbrushed and stenciled first. The stencil remains on the piece protecting the color it is on top of from subsequent layers. When new colors and stencils overlap the original ones it gives the effect of the last one being behind the first. With each new layer of color I am painting another background for the shapes in front of it. When the Tea-Pot is at the end of this stage there are layers of stencils with only the last two or three colors visible.

Unloading my first firing is the most fun because the stencils have burnt away and it is the first time I see how the designs look. It is a short extra-low-temperature firing, not hot enough to mature the clay but hot enough to burn away the stencils and give the clay enough strength so it can withstand a little scrubbing where underglaze is still stuck to the wax resist. At this point I can add more underglaze and do a Bisque firing which is the hottest and matures the clay, and then I do the final firing with a clear glaze.
A little history

My mother was a painter and always a great enthusiast of my creations. Father was an Air Force pilot and because of this I began traveling at a young age. Born in California, I was raised for a few years in England and then mostly on the East coast outside of Boston. In high school I continued my childhood interest of dabbling with clay. After graduating I left for Israel where I spent seven months on a Kibbutz (a communal farm settlement). I experienced Egypt, the Sinai, Turkey, and many European countries for two years before returning to the states. After a season in a Utah ski resort and a summer at an Alaskan cannery I was diagnosed with Leukemia. At this point I began to look less at exploring the outside world and more at my inside world. This led me back to my art that had been a constant part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I began my ceramic studies in earnest at Cabrillo college near Santa Cruz, California. A couple years later I transferred to Humboldt State University and moved to Arcata; in 1994 I received my BA with a focus in ceramics. I was one of the few people I knew to find a local job related to my degree, and I worked for a couple potters in the nearby town of Blue Lake. It was then a matter of time before I got my own studio together and began doing my own ceramics full time. I have since been selling my whimsical and usually functional artwork in the Northwest.

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