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The Forest Within - Cream colored ceramic pot with forest painted on panels

A collaborative piece with photographer, Barbara Tyroler, this is a departure for me, at least with the surface treatment. Tyroler has done a series of photographs featuring trees. She provided the photographic image, and I constructed the piece for this image to go on. Using decals printed with an old HP laser printer that has a high percentage of iron oxide in its toner, I removed the decals from their backing, sliding them over the surface of the piece. Then I cut them up and moved them around, applying the decals only to the surface planes, leaving the edges uncovered. After firing, the iron oxide is deposited, creating a three-dimensional image that fragments to fit its underlying pattern. This is the same process that I used for my series, Refracted Journeys: Portraits.

The laser printer prints in black and white, so how did the color appear? I had expected that the laser-printed decal would be enough. While the prints start out black, they turn to a sepia color when fired because the ink and decal material burns out, leaving the iron oxide. When this piece came out of the decal fire, I was very disappointed because the image seemed flat and it was hard for the eye to make sense of what was going on in the fragmented photo. What to do? Several years ago I purchased various colors of China paint for experimentation, but I never did much with them. Now was the time to try them out. My intention wasn’t to turn the photographic image into a painting, but to just “colorize” the photo enough so that the eye could make sense of what it was seeing.

I’m very pleased with this piece, and I hope the photographer is, too. The three-dimensionality of this piece, with its fragmented image(s), invites the viewer into the picture. It mimics the experience of walking into a forest. The hiker is watching their feet, trying not to stumble, looking all around. The hiker’s view is fragmented, unlike the view of the photographer, who stops and frames a still shot of a part of the forest. Ultimately, what is the destination of those who venture into the “forest?” The mystery at its heart, or in the case of a vessel, the mystery inside.

15″ X 10″

Glazed Stoneware, Fired-on Laser Decals, China Paint

Available at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, NC.

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