We certainly have no shortage of incredible talent in California especially in the realm of ceramics and pottery. Something in the soil is surely the cause. The Mister is a huge fan and we have personally collected quite a few pieces in wide variety so when Erin McGuiness popped up in my in- box I was instantly intrigued by her vessels and asked if she wouldn't speak a little more on her process of hand-coiling.
Coil building is this wonderful, "original" forming method in clay, the same basic technique is used in native american pottery and many other indigenous communities clay traditions. Thin snakes of clay are rolled out and then stacked on top of each other vertically to form the walls of a vessels. You may have used this method in grade school and ended up with a sort of lumpy droopy thing (like I did). The difference is that now I work on a lot of pieces at once and only build up the vessels a couple inches at a time, then I let it harden and refine the form before putting the next layer on, slowly building up so that it can support its own weight.
I love coiling for a bunch of different reasons, the process itself is really slow and meditative. This allows me to have a lot of time with the piece, tweaking and adjusting the form to get the balance I like. The process is so "hand-on" that I think a lot of the maker gets into the piece. Everyone always want to touch the vessels and I think that is somehow related to the method used that a viewers hand is just drawn to the form. Rather than use a glaze, I leave the pieces raw with light washes so the finish is the texture and color of the clay itself. The play between a really composed balanced harmonious form and then the raw earthly clay I think is the strength of the work.
Thanks so much Erin for talking about your process it's such a joy to learn new material in a field of interest. And if you live in the area you can see Erin's work in person at the Palo Alto Clay and Glass Festival. Read below for more information. I've actually never been and wish I had the weekend free to go check it out.
Hand coiled vessels - Heights 33" to 26"
From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15, California sculptor, Erin McGuiness will show new one of a kind hand-coiled ceramic vessels in booth #419 at the Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival. The artist will be onsite to answer questions about the pieces that she makes by hand in Berkeley California using her modern approach to the age old technique of clay hand-coil building. Inspired by African & Oceanic art and past masters such as Brancusi and Noguchi. McGuiness architectural vessels play with the tension and connections created by groupings of forms. The combinations are conversations sparked by different emotions. Each vessel expresses a feeling or thought so that the forms together become a visual chorus of ideas. McGuiness’ vessels balance the inherent raw and earthy qualities of clay against the elegant harmonious proportions of her forms.
More than 175 juried, local artists will present the finest in clay and glass art at the 20th annual Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival. Thousands of attendees are expected for this free event hosted by the Association for Clay and Glass Artists (ACGA) and presented with the Palo Alto Art Center. The Palo Alto Clay & Glass Festival features a large selection of the best traditional and contemporary clay and glass art.
Saturday & Sunday, July 14 & 15, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
777 Embarcadero Road
Palo Alto, CA
Erin McGuiness Booth #419