Function & Adornment with Kate Maury

In this installment of the Ceramic Arts Daily Presents video series, Kate Maury shares her techniques for creating highly decorative and ornate, yet functional forms. Beginning with a simple presentation of how to make a press or sprig mold from ...(Scroll for more.)

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Runtime: 1 hour 45 minutes

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…a found object, Kate moves on to demonstrate a variety of ways to use sprigs beyond their traditional function. Rather than using them in their entirety, she looks for visually interesting components within both commercially manufactured and handmade sprig molds, then pieces these elements together into intricate compositions.

Sometimes the sprigs are used on the surface of handbuilt structures, but other times, they become are structure. In addition to demonstrating five unique forms, Kate shares loads of tips and smart handmade tools she has developed that help immensely not just with this type of handbuilding, but with just about any other studio pursuit, as well.

Making custom sprigs for pottery

Kate begins by demonstrates that it is quite simple to make your own custom sprig molds. All you need is a found form with no undercuts, some plaster (or even clay will work) and a plastic carryout container. This is a great way gather a collection of molds that are unique to you.

Altering perceptions

Although craft-store molds have somewhat of a stigma for studio potters, Kate has come to look at them in a different way. Rather than looking at the whole, she sees a collection of decorative elements – even turning a Santa Claus beard from one commercial mold into the parts of a scalloped cup! She presses coils into the interesting elements and stores the various pieces in a homemade damp box until she is ready to build with them.

Part sculpture, part pottery

Kate’s work grew out of an appreciation of ornament, but she also felt committed to functional pottery. So she decided to marry these two interests. The result is functional work that could really also be considered sculpture. Kate’s candlestick holders start out with the underlying forms (simple handbuilt dome- and cone-shaped pieces) that act almost like armatures. All traces of those supporting forms disappear as Kate embellishes every surface with sprigs from her damp boxes. Along the way, she gives tips and insights into how she chooses dynamic elements that work well to form a cohesive whole.

Endless possibilities

The possibilities from these techniques are limited only to one’s imagination, and to get you thinking beyond the candlestick holders, Kate shares a number of different techniques that she has come up with: a mug made entirely from sprigs; a drape-molded plate with sprig embellishments and feet; and even way to work these springs into interesting wheel thrown forms.

Tools to get the job done

Over the years, Kate has developed a lot of unique tools that have helped streamline this process. She shares a plethora of them here, so you can get started with a leg up. And the best part is, many of these tools have myriad other uses in studio. So, not only will you have a head start with this technique, you may find the answer to another studio dilemma you have been having.

Traditional notions upended

Kate’s process turns traditional notions upside down about how to make pottery and is completely refreshing. If you would like to recharge your work and explore new directions, Kate is the perfect guide. After watching this video, you’ll want to race straight to the studio to test out the ideas it generates for you.

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