Working with large vases was something that I've been doing since the beginning. I went to school at Skidmore College and we were super lucky to have access to some huge kilns. This gave us the ability to work as large as we wanted to. My teachers, Regis Brodie and Leslie Ferst both were making monumental work at the time. Perhaps the biggest benefit of these kilns was that we had visiting artists coming to the studio to work large.
During my very first class at Skidmore, two weeks into working with clay the studio began to buzz with word that Toshiko Takaezu was coming to visit. Now, keep in mind, I didn't know who she was and google didn't exist at the time. I was just a beginner student struggling to center clay on the wheel (most of those forms ended up as doorstops in my folks' home). I asked around to some of the students who weren't as green as I was and learned a bit more about Toshiko. Turns out that she was a legendary artist who taught at Princeton University for years. Her work was in the permanent collections of The Smithsonian, The Met, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Fast-forward a couple of days and Toshiko walks into the studio with her current apprentice, past apprentice and about 3 students who want to be her next apprentice. I just keep working...trying to center clay. A few hours later, Toshiko sits down at the wheel next to me and asks what I'm working on. I stumble for words and blurt out something pretty basic. She then asks if I'm interested in staying late that night and helping out. Obviously, I stuttered and again said something silly, but I stayed and helped....until about 4 in the morning. It was pretty great to be part of and seeing a 6 foot thrown form come to life. I haven't stopped making pots since that summer, but it has been a while since I have made large pieces.
I have been making some larger pieces recently and am looking forward to firing them and bringing them to life later this summer. I'm excited to see where this body of work ends up.
Stay tuned for more info about these vases.