Rust and Speckled White Thumb Bowl by Merle Slyhoff
Merle Slyhoff Pottery
This unique bowl serves 3 purposes... it can hold anything, you can rest a serving spoon in the unique indentation on the rim, and the indentation creates a space to rest your thumb while passing the bowl. The speckled white body is complemented with the rust-colored rim that shows colors of blue and green.
Materials used: Clay, food-safe glaze
Dimensions: 9" w x 3" h
Artist Statement: I began my personal exploration in clay over 25 years ago. There is an inherent joy and relaxation in taking a lump of clay, wedging it, throwing it on the wheel, sometimes hand-altering after the wheel, then waiting for the bisque piece to come out of the kiln. The last step, glazing, turns that initial lump of clay into a final piece of art. I create hand-thrown functional clay pieces in medium or high fire clay bodies. Whether it is a mug, a bowl, a platter or a garlic scraper I work the clay to maintain a simplicity of design while considering the ergonomics of use. I have always been fascinated with surface design and while my design aesthetic is minimalist I frequently use texture, carving, cutting or slip work to enhance the design and glaze. The texture or cutting on the surface allows the glaze to react differently, while smooth surfaces allow for the interaction of multiple glazes. Created in my Southeastern Pennsylvania studio I strive to create work that brings joy to the user. I use the sun as my potter’s mark because it symbolizes a fresh start - each lump of clay that touches my hands is a fresh start to a new creation. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen and a Juried Member of the Bucks County Guild of Craftsmen, a chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild. My work Trees won an award at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts Member Show. I have participated in many regional fine craft shows and I am a member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, the local Bucks County chapter and numerous other pottery and art organizations.
Pottery is considered a traditional fine craft as its origins date back centuries. Seeing the changes that technology has brought to creating pottery does not negate the inherent traditional skills and processes that are still used today. Working with the clay is very sustinable... the clay comes from the earth and it is possible to reuse and reclaim almost all that does not go into the kiln. I have clay "slop" buckets in my studio sink to collect any clay on my hands and tools. If not acceptable for reclaiming and reusing it gets dumped in the yard and goes right back into the earth. No part of the clay winds up in the land fill. Creating pottery is a relaxing and, for the most part, stress-free activity. While working on the wheel I can’t think about other things, no distractions except for music. No, things don’t always go smoothly, a piece may fail in its creation or in the kiln but I know I can always make another one. And kiln failures may not be suitable for their intended use as a coffee mug but it can serve very well as a bird feeder. Plus there’s always the self-imposed challenges to see if I can make the next one an inch taller, with thinner walls, with better glaze combinations.
Bio: My life in pottery began over 25 years with classes at a local arts center. I was immediately hooked and pottery became a passion that filled my non-day job hours. I expanded my classes to other art centers and new clay teachers, learning new insights and skills. In addition to the more formal classes I have enhanced my skills by taking workshops with world-renowned clay artists, including Bill Van Gilder, Simon Leach, Jerry Bennett and Tomoo Hamada. I design and create my work at my Southeastern, PA studio, always striving to create pieces that bring joy to the user. My work aesthetic is minimalist with an eye towards ergonomics of use. The simplistic designs are enhanced with carvings, piercings and slip work to allow the glazes to play over the altered surfaces to create dimension and depth, and with layers of glazes to add a new palette to the surface. I am a member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen where I serve on their Board and I am a Juried Member of the Bucks County Guild of Craftsmen, a chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, where I currently serve as President. I am also a member of The Potters Exchange, The Potters Guild of New Jersey, the Mt. Airy Artist Garage and The Artists of Yardley. My work Trees won an award at the Cheltenham Center for the Arts Member Show. I participate in many juried fine craft shows, including the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Crafts, the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival, the Doylestown Arts Festival, the Artists of Yardley Craft Show and many other regional fine craft festivals. My work can also be found on the web and in local galleries. To follow my work and to find out where I will be, follow me on Facebook www.Facebook.com/MerleSlyhoffPottery and check out my web page www.MerleSlyhoffPottery.com.
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