political mugs 3.23.2017

With the current political climate in the United States, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate my politics into my art. I don’t want to be strictly a political artist… I don’t think… but you never know what might lurk behind a door you choose to open!

After my eldest daughter Elly showed me a poster she made for the Women’s March that occurred in cities and towns throughout the U.S. back in January of this year, I liked her cardboard and black marker art so much that I decided to incorporate it into some mugs. Thanks Elly!

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The symbolism in her poster is the female power symbol, made of the female gender, female organism, or Venus symbol, along with a fist. According to Wikipedia, this is an anarcha-feminism symbol. Some suggest this symbol is appropriated from black power. This may be true, AND I believe art always has been – and should be – copied and re-used and re-configured. Also, the raised or clenched fist is a symbol with even a longer herstory – it’s a symbol of solidarity and support, and “Assyrian depictions of the goddess Ishtar show her raising a clenched fist.” The RESIST word on the poster, along with the female power symbol, for ME, means, in basic language, that I stand with other women and people for women’s rights.

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So, back to the mugs. I made these four mugs a couple months ago, two with handles and two without. When the clay was leather-hard, I applied a rectangle of black slip (thin clay) to the front and back of each cup. The black slip looks brown until it’s fired at a high temperature in the kiln, and then it turns black.

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After the slip dried a bit, I carved out the design. This pic shows the design and my carving tools. You may wonder why I call a paint brush a carving tool. When I use my finger to wipe away the clay that’s carved away, I sometimes smudge the piece, or rub the carved clay bits back in to the clay. The paint brush is a better tool to lightly brush away the carved clay without smudging or rubbing. I really like the woodcut look I get when I carve through the black slip. The symbol on the back of each mug is a triple spiral, which to me means the triple goddess – maiden, mother, and crone.

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Here’s a closeup. You can see better how much it looks like a woodcut or a linoleum cut. Super cool!

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This pic shows the four cups after they were bisque fired, and before I put on the glaze. You can see how the slip that looked brown turned into a dark gray, and it’ll get even blacker with the next firing at an even higher temperature. After the glaze was applied, they were fired again.

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And here’s a pic after they got out of the kiln. The top two mugs were the glaze fails. The glaze I painted over the carved images was too thick and too opaque. So I REfired the two mugs with handles, which didn’t fix the problem, plus it made the once groovy turquoise glaze bubbly. The two handle-less mugs turned out great! I’m currently making more of those, but without the triple spiral design.

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