A few months ago I started to feel my creativity waning. With every new batch of ceramic pieces I was feeling less and less inspired by my own work. Just being in the studio was starting to feel like a chore rather than something that I looked forward to every day.
As much as I would love to, it has become impossible for me to continue working in the way I have been. It’s been a struggle to supply work for shows, shops, orders, and online stores.
I’ve been treating myself like a monster factory and my mind and body have taken a beating because of it.
It wasn’t until I started developing carpal tunnel in both wrists, that I realized something had to change. Either production had to be moved to a factory or it was time to scale back and reassess. I’ve always prided myself on creating individual pieces for individual people, no two MereWare mugs are alike. If I were to start producing these in molds, or hire help, the quality and specialness of every piece would diminish.
I just couldn’t bear to mass produce friends like these:
So, the old style of MereWare products are going to start phasing out and a new line of wares are heading in. These new pieces are highly individualized and detailed with expressive features and textures. They take more than twice the amount of time and effort as the old pieces did…
But they’re so worth it.
Through this new work, I’m starting to feel alive again. I’m getting the feeling back in my hands from working shorter hours, and my creativity and inspiration are returning in full swing. I care deeply about every piece of art that I’m creating, and unique personalities are showing through in every creature.
So, with that said, I’d like you to meet the new crew! They are all in the beginning, rough stages of development, they need to be glazed and fired once more to bring out their true colors.
Abraham the Orangutan
I adore this ape. His features and textures were a blast to create, and I love the way he turned out!
Abraham was thrown on the wheel in a rough hourglass shape, then his arms and legs were molded out of coils and slipped and scored onto his body. I cut his fingers and toes out of the existing coils and used a needle tool to add fine textures.
Wet clay was smeared onto the surface of the piece and molded into rough fur shapes. The facial features were made with a combination of cutting into the surface of the mug and adding wet clay. When the piece was leather hard, I used a needle tool to scrape into the clay to create the textures and fine details.
Kingsley the Monster
Hard as I try, I just can’t stop making monsters. Kingsley started out as a Mogwai, you know, gremlins before they turn into gremlins? He was much too, well… average looking, so I added four extra limbs, some gnarly teeth, and raggedy hair. Now he looks like a Mogwai who has really been through a tough ordeal. Glazing this guy will be a fun challenge, it’s going to be tough to decide on colors!
Beardsley the Gnome
Beardsley was a lot of fun to create. I started by throwing a simple cylinder on the wheel, then used pressure inside while the wheel was turning to make the head and torso portions bulge out. When the piece was leather hard, I rolled coils for the arms and attached them to the torso. All of the remaining details were created with slabs and small pieces of clay, attached and textured with sponges and tools.
The toughest part of this piece was making the facial features look human-like, but exaggerated as well. I didn’t want this little gnome looking like a little person, after all. I made his ears and cheeks oversized and heavily textured the clay that was added for his beard. Overall I’m very happy with the way he came out, especially his little hat that can help to keep your beverage warm!
Ivan the Hedgehog
Ivan was the most fun of all. His prickly personality shines through his adorable face. He’s dangerous and cuddly all at once. Just as the others were created, Ivan was thrown on the wheel and additions were made with wet clay afterward. The spines on his back were a big challenge, but I think they turned out beautifully, and they add a really interesting texture to the piece. I formed the cones one by one with my fingers and slipped and scored them individually onto the mug. It was a long process but totally worth it!
Couldn’t you just imagine drinking your morning cup of coffee out of this little darling?
These pieces will be featured again when I get my kiln fixed and I can fire and glaze them. I’ll be sure to post more pieces as they’re created. I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse of what’s to come!