Welcome to the Clay & Glass blog of Meagan Chaney Gumpert! We hope you enjoy your time here!
Saturday, July 24, 2010

More tiles - layered surface tests

And they're out of the kiln. Overall, I'm still very pleased with the potential of these new lowfire test tiles. I've got to be careful not to overdo the layering or they start to get a little muddy looking though.
They look a little jumbled shown all together like this - seems better to process them individually.

We'll, gotta run. We're off to the Bray Bash!
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
dkrycek commented on 27-Nov-2012 11:44 AM
These are really beautiful tiles! I have been looking for tile in Toronto that have good designs and patterns like these. These tiles look like they were hand-painted, though!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Potter I am Not

Kudos to all those functional potters out there! Though I've had my suspicions, I have confirmed that I am definitley not one of them. I love drinking, eating, and collecting pots, but making them is not my forte.

One of the requirements as a resident artist at the Clay Studio of Missoula is to donate 2 cups and 2 plates for every month of your residency. (Lucky for me, I'm only here one month, so my numbers were small.) The plates and cups are used at thier annual fundraising dinner Missoula Valley Thyme and Plate, which just happens to be this Sunday, June 25 from 6-10pm. So glad I extended my stay to that I can attend both the Bray Bash this weekend and Thyme and Plate!

It took me the better part of 2 days to make just these 6! This is actually my 2nd round of tumblers - ever! (The first 3 I made are too embarassing to even look at, much less post pictures of for the whole world to see.)

They are handbuilt from 1/4" earthenware slabs using a paper pattern that I made from a standard pint glass. Fortunately, I was able to adapt my usual handbuilding techniques fairly easily for this step.

There were casualties early on, however. I lost 2 after applying a few layers of terra sigillata and saturating the bone-dry clay. This one split right down the middle - mostly along the carved lines.
I'm was already down to 4 when I had to face my real challenge. With to do with the surface??

See, none of my standard, favorite, low fire glazes are food safe. So, after exchanging a few emails with glaze guru John Britt, and running a few tests (on the broken cups I might add), I was able to come up with a solution. They're in the kiln now (glaze to cone 04) and I hope, hope, hope that I get 2 decent ones out to donate. And I only made 4 plates. So fingers crossed there too! I'll know tomorrow afternoon...

In the meantime, here's a little eye candy from the market Saturday morning. The lilies this woman had were absolutely amazing. I'd never seen so many varieties and colors!
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Field Trip - The Archie Bray Foundation

Tuesday afternoon I went to The Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, MT - a 2 hour drive from Missoula. I've known about The Bray (its resident artists, clay supply business, and support of for all things ceramic) for years, and was excited to get a chance to check it out.

Archie Bray Resident Artist Exhibition and 2010 Bray Benefit Auction

View outside the Warehouse Gallery

Met up with current resident artist Courtney Murphy who gave me a tour of the short-term and long-term resident studios. Courtney and I met briefly in Asheville, NC a few years ago through mutual friend and ceramic artist Cassie Ryalls. The ceramics community is amazing! If the rule of 6-degrees of separation is true normally, within ceramics I think it's more like only 3!

Long-term Resident Studios

It was also great to meet some of the other artists (Kelly Garrett Rathbone, Steven Roberts, Kensuke Yamada, Kevin Snipes, Gwendolyn, Yoppolo, Del Harrow, and Johnathan Read) and see their work in the Resident Artist Exhibition in the Warehouse Gallery. I was blown away by the quality and variety of the work!

Some of Courtney's work from the Resident Artist Exhibition.

It was a quick visit, but I'm looking forward to heading back there next Saturday, July 24 for The Bray Bash - thier annual auction and fundraiser.

From The Bray's Website:
"The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts is a public, nonprofit, educational institution founded in 1951 by brickmaker Archie Bray, who intended it to be 'a place to make available for all who are seriously and sincerely interested in any of the branches of the ceramic arts, a fine place to work.' Its primary mission is to provide an environment that stimulates creative work in ceramics. "

View back toward the resident studios and kiln yard

If you ever get a chance to go, I highly recommend it! (And I was only there for a short visit!) In addition to offering ceramic workshops and classes, The Bray offers ten 3-4 month short-term summer artist residencies and ten 1-2 year long-term residencies.

Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

In the kiln...

Loaded and fired an electric kiln with fellow resident Danny Crump yesterday - my first firing at The Clay Studio of Missoula. Here's a picture (pre-firing) of the various pieces and parts for three new experimental sculptures, my "warm-up" work from Monday, samples for my upcoming workshop at Arrowmont, and a couple trial plates and cups. (Plates and cups you ask?!? Yep. More about this challenge later.)
(Note: Imagine that white plaster mold isn't there for support and the pieces are bolted together.)

Tomorrow's plan - glaze, load and (hopefully) fire the kiln again. Cant wait to see some of this new work "finished." I have plans to include various glass and steel parts, so they may not be truly completed until I get back home to the studio in FL. But a trip to the hardware store for nuts and bolts is in my near future.
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New work - Residency project 1

I'm off to the studio to continue working on the project I started yesterday. And I must say, I'm pretty excited about it. It looks a lot different than the 3d sketches I did on Monday; almost as if it was made by another person. But I feel this piece is finally starting to incorporate ideas and techniques I've been striving for in my new work. (More on that later.)I was also amazed how much I was able to accomplish in one day! Granted, it was a long studio day - 7:45am til 7:00pm, but I was feeling great and really into a groove. It normally would have taken me 3 weeks at home to make this much progress! Cant wait to see what I'm able to do today! Cheers!
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Studio Warm Up

My first studio day in Missoula-

Yesterday, I spent all day working on small, 3D sketches of various floral forms. These maquettes were a great warm up exercise! And man did I need the warm up. It can take a while to get settled into a new space and find a routine.
The first thing that took some adjusting to was my clay body. I have been using the same clay body for at least 5 years now. (Lymen Red from Highwater Clays.) But out here in Montana it makes more sense to get it from The Archie Bray (only 1.5 hrs from Missoula) than to have 100lbs of my usual stuff shipped from the East Coast. So I made the switch and the two are definitely different! I don't know yet if I prefer one over the other, but I'll have to report back after my month-long residency. ABF Earthenware is darker brown when moist and seems smoother. It has virtually no grog compared to the Lymen Red I'm used to working with at home. I'm curious to see the fired color and compare shrinkage, absorption and warping.

The second issue I'm tackling is related to this gorgeous weather I've been experiencing. Humidity. Or lack there of. In Florida (80-100% humidity) clay dries very, very slowly and often needs to be put into a dry box or blasted with a heat gun to speed the drying process along. Not necessary here in MT! Slabs seemed to get stiff with the blink of an eye! I will definitely have to adjust my work time and modify some of my usual building habits.

These small pieces not only helped me learn more about my new clay and environment but they were great visual studies. I picked several flowers on my walk to the studio and took the time to really observe the structures, textures and colors of each. So, with the some 3D sketching and traditional sketching done, I tackled my first "real" project today. And I must say, I am pretty excited about it! But more about that one tomorrow. I'm off to bed!
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Plaques and Improvements

So, I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I was able to finish a record 60 plaques in just 8 studio days! And though this was definitely a rush job, the quality of the tiles was in no way compromised.

Actually, the opposite is true. I believe the plaques are getting better with each firing. I have a lot fewer “duds” – tiles that just don’t work for one reason or another. Warping seems to be under control. The patterns and line-work are stronger. And most glaze problems have been resolved. For me, these tiles are a way to experiment with pattern, texture, and color. Because of this, even the “duds” are important. By studying them, I’m able to evaluate what works and what doesn’t; learn from my mistakes. I’m happy the success rate it up!

I’ve been making these plaques for 4 years now. People often ask how long I will continue to make new ones. And the answer is the same for all my work. I will continue to make them as long as I feel challenged creatively and I see room for growth and improvement. When I get bored or dread the process, it’s time to move on to something new.

Happy Creating!
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Contemporary Clay Biennial - Opening Friday

I am very excited and honored to announce my piece "Urban Pocket" as selected for the Contemporary Clay Biennial at the Art Center, Western Colorado Center for the Arts, in Grand Junction, CO.

The opening reception is this Friday night, and Oh, how I wish I could be there! If you're in the area and able to attend, please take some pictures for me. I'd love to see the show installed!

Contemporary Clay Biennial 2010
Juried by Ceramist and Clay Times columnist Pete Pinnell
May 14 - June 26, 2010
Opening Reception - Friday, June 4, 6:30 - 9pm

Juror Pete Pinnell - Clay demonstration and workshop June 5-6, 9-5pm.

, earthenware, steel, wood backing, 9 x 40 x 4", 2009.
Urban Pocket
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Work - UF Post-Bacc Program

Finally getting around to posting pictures of the work I did Spring semester at UF. I start exploring a new direction - moving the work from wall relief sculpture to working completely in the round. Like most new ideas, I feel it's taken me some time to digest and think about the changes that I made, and the changes that I still need to make.

I won't lie, this change was definitely a struggle for me! There were days when I felt I had no idea what I was doing - technically or conceptually.

I had problems with clay shrinkage and incorporating found objects. I questioned if the ideas I was hoping to covey were coming through in the work. I had work blow up in the kiln! So, several attempts ended up in the trash or with the shards destined to become more stepping stones for our garden.

But, I kept pushing and reminding myself that "when you feel like you know what you're doing, you're probably not growing."

Now that a little time has passed and I've had a few weeks to process the experience, I am excited about this new direction and the possibilities I see for expanding these ideas. So, here are a few pictures and my artist statement...
Fortis cultivativo, earthenware, steel, glass
(Note: Now on view through July 5 at "Art in Bloom", Marion Cultural Alliance; On Top of the World Location- Ocala, FL)
Natural and manufactured environments coexist within contemporary urban settings. City parks and botanical gardens are thoughtfully integrated into residential developments and commercial centers. These man-made garden atmospheres seem to emphasize an underlying desire to escape the hectic stress of everyday urban life by surrounding oneself with beautiful, natural environments.
Incrementun multi, earthenware, steel, cast glass
(Note: Now on view now through Oct 8 at The Arrowmont 2010 Instructor Exhibition, Gatlinburg, TN)

My sculpture focuses on a self created species: a visual hybrid that reflects both nature and industry. These mixed-media works synthesize plant forms like pods, leaves, and stems with radial mechanical elements and machine parts. The link between industry and nature is emphasized further through materiality. The constructed sculptures incorporate materials such as steel and concrete with traditional craft media such as clay and glass. The textured, crusty, surface treatments of the stylized terracotta forms further suggest the coexistence of these worlds.

Evoco vita, earthenware, steel, cast glass, fused glass
(Note: Now on view June 3-July5 at "Ancient Arts", Marion Cultural Alliance; downtown location- Ocala, FL. Opening reception this Friday!)
The imagined hybrids represent the need for balance in our everyday lives. Parallels can be drawn between industry and work, and nature and pleasure as society strives for professional success and personal happiness.
Thanks again for reading and following along with the changes and progress in m
Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UF Post-Baccalaureate Ceramics - A Year in Review

It's official. I finished up the special study, post-baccalaureate ceramic program at The University of Florida last week.

Though I had hoped to do more blogging during my journey, I found I ultimately needed to spend more time focusing on being a student and becoming more immersed in my work.

But I did want to take a moment to reflect on the past two semesters - what I've learned, what I'll miss, what I'm excited about for the future. The past few weeks, people kept asking, "So, was it worth it? Did you get everything out of the program you had hoped? Was it was you expected?" My simple answer is a hands-down "YES"!

Our wonderful group led by fearless leaders Nan Smith (far left) and Linda Arbuckle (far right)
Not pictured - Fall Graduate TA Kristin Schimik & Spring Graduate TA Charlie Cummings.
What I will miss the most is definitely the people! We truly had a wonderful group. We worked well together - sharing ideas, constructive criticism, and good times. For me, getting out of my studio at home and interacting with other people was priceless. I learned so much from just working in the same room as these artists! There were definitely ah-ha moments when I would observe how someone was constructing a piece or we would problem solve together.

Overall, I wasn't at school, on-campus as much as I would have liked to have been. It was tough juggling the UF-student world, with my married, Ocala world, but I think I did it without compromising too much of either. Commuting back and forth to Gainesville and coordinating what materials, work, and tools to haul on what days was a challenge. One thing's for sure, I definitely will NOT miss that hour-long commute, the subsequent fight for parking, the bus ride to the art building, and then the commute back home!

So, what did I learn? Wow! That's a hard one to put into words, but I'll do my best to sum it up.

I learned that when you push yourself to stretch in new directions, great things can happen. I learned that if you feel like you know what you're doing, the you're probably not growing enough. (It's also ok not to know what you're doing for a while, but important to keep on working.) I learned to think more critically about my work and analyze it from a different perspective. I gained confidence. I was humbled. I learned new techniques. And I started a new direction with my work.

Our end of year exhibition - Fresh from the Fire
Opening Reception: April 9, 2010, WarpHAUS gallery, Gainesville, FL

Here are a few quick snapshots of the work/artists in our group. None of these photos do the work any justice, so I encourage you to check out the website links where provided.

Lauren Faust

Eric Lewis

Alisha Lewis

Alan Schulte

Chloe Rothwell

I failed to get a good picture of Rebecca Rhyne's final presentation. She had her work, a series of 5 ceramic heads depicting intense emotion, thoughtfully installed in a small room off the side of the main gallery.

A group shot of my newest work. I plan to do a longer post talking a bit more about the transition I'm making from relief sculpture to work in-the-round.

Though school is done, the learning never truly stops. I finished up the semester full of ideas for new work. I'm looking forward to getting back into my studio to start these new projects.

Also, I cannot wait to get back to into our garden! It has been sadly neglected, and is in need of immediate attention! I often find it ironic that I spend days in the studio making work about being out in the garden. So, it's time for me to get outside, enjoy Spring, and be inspired!

Thanks for reading along. I hope to be checking in more often from now on.

Meagan. Chaney Gumpert
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