Friday, June 8, 2012
Honeysuckle & Hummingbird Moth ~ thoughts on carving a Rookwood tile
Honeysuckle grows wild on the hill where I live. Tangles of it grow up in the pasture fencerows, wafting perfume over the hayfields. In early summer it saturates the mellow night air with sweetness. Sometimes in the evening twilight you may see a whirring of wings, a little creature that looks almost exactly like a silvery hummingbird, but with a softer sound, almost no sound at all. It hovers in the half-light and uncurls an elegant spiral to sip nectar from the cascades of pale gold and white blossoms, then vanishes into the night.
The charm of Rookwood seems kin to this; serenity and luxury surround the home where delicate tendrils of wild nature twine in decoration round lovely vessels, crafted to grace the hearth and elevate the heart.
So my first designs are all homey "old-fashioned" things familiar to country homes and quiet gardens - baby guineas, cottontails, wild flowers and the moths that visit them, carved in low relief under the subtle glazes that Rookwood is known for.
Carving the work has an elusive, otherworldly quality. I feel at times like a diver, descending through the portal of the magnifying light, where a moth's antenna is an enormous ridge in a vast landscape of snow-white stone. The tiny motions of the carving blade shave off great mounds of plaster, and I become the wind that puffs them away, as the exact contours of hills and valleys emerge. A spider not much larger than the head of a pin startled me when it charged round a corner in a scale that gave it the presence of a buffalo!
I like that these objects, developed through lengthy and careful process, are shaped by so much dreaming. To appreciate Rookwood you must slow down, as I, and many other hands and minds who have formed it have. We have endeavored to challenge the speed of the present with our skill and dreams, a careful and serene respect for the quiet beauty of a beautiful vessel in an ideal space.