A whole new world (of wood!)

…or maybe that should be “a whole new wood”! There’s been all sort of fun new stuff happening in the Land of the Muddlers lately, and there’s more to come very soon (but that will have to wait for another post). The big news for today is my new line of laser-cut wood accessories! I’ve been working with the fantastic folks at The Maker Bean here in Toronto to develop these, and boy howdy are they ever SWEET (I mean the new products, but Lorraine and Chris are also utterly delightful).

I’ve started small with a handful of designs made into keychains and/or earrings for a grand total of 9 new products. All are now available in my Etsy shop :)

bacteria_earrings_01
Flagellate bacteria earrings (Pseudomonas syringae) – 5cm long
bacteria_keychain_04
Flagellate bacteria keychains (Pseudomonas syringae) – 6cm long
beetle_keychain_04
Jewel beetle keychain (Buprestis rufipes) – 8cm long
DNA_earrings_02
DNA earrings – 5cm long
DNA_keychain_02
DNA keychains – 8cm long
tardigrade_dangle_02
Tardigrade keychains / purse dangles / luggage tags – 8cm long
virus_earrings_02
Icosahedral virus stud earrings – 1.5cm wide
widow_earrings_03
Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) earrings – 4cm long
widow_keychain_04
Black widow spider (Latrodectus spp.) keychains – 6cm long
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Project: Ocean vessel

A couple of years ago I spent some time at a studio out in the east end of the city. I worked under a potter there who was a brilliant sculptor, and it was under her tutelage that I learnt most of the core slab-building techniques that I now use. 

When most people think of pottery, what comes to mind is the classic scene from Ghost, where Patrick Swayze “helps” Demi Moore on the pottery wheel, and sexiness ensues. (Let me assure you that there’s nothing sexy about wet clay. It gets everywhere, and it’s gritty.) Wheel-throwing is just one method of building structures in clay, though. It’s great if you want something round, or at least round-ish, but it’s far from the pinnacle of the fine art of pottery. 

Slab-building doesn’t employ a wheel at all, though you can build most of the same basic shapes with it. Instead, the potter begins with a hunk of clay and rolls it out flat, much as you would a pie crust. The slab can be draped, pressed into a mould, folded, twisted, curled, cut into strips and re-attached at crazy angles – the options are endless. 

For this piece, I started with a slab draped over a dinner plate for a gently rounded base. Then I cut asymmetrical strips and attached them to build up the sides and form the handles. 

I didn’t have any specific creatures in mind as I formed it, but rather impressions of sponges and corals and sea stars and eels and seaweed. I wanted it to evoke the feeling of a coral reef without actually depicting one. Similarly, I chose glazes that call to mind the ocean for the interior of the vessel, but glazed the outside in the matte white of bleached shell and bone and coral. 

This is one of my favourite pieces, so I hope you enjoy it!