To go along with the summer motif of red, white and blue, Claymakers’ Gallery in Durham has an exhibit, “Copper, Kaolin & Cobalt: Ceramics in Red, White & Blue.”
The exhibit runs until Sept. 14 and features pottery from five different artists from a variety of backgrounds, using equally diverse methods and materials.
Artists Jennifer Mecca and Deborah Harris both worked with porcelain by throwing it on the wheel to make functional pieces like vases and bowls.
Holly Fischer uses coil construction to build her column sculptures.
“I roll out coils of clay, ropes of clay and build the forms in spiraling concentric rings, so they’re completely hollow,” she said.
After the pieces are built, they have to be fired before any glaze goes on them.
“You make the piece, and then you fire it at a relatively low temperature like 1,800 F, and that makes the piece hard enough, so you can dip it in a glaze without it crumbling,” Harris said.
“Because if you put an unfired piece of clay in something wet, it’ll just fall apart, but this clay makes it strong enough to glaze, and then you put it in the kiln again at a higher temperature around 2,200 to 2,300 F.”
The glaze is then used to make it a different color — especially important in this exhibit.
“The name of the show is ‘Kaolin, Cobalt and Copper,’ so cobalt is blue, and copper usually makes either green or aqua,” Mecca said.
Mecca produces functional pieces and went to school to study pottery.
Harris’s introduction to pottery was different. She was a physical therapist but took a clay class before deciding to go into pottery. She said she drew on the history of North Carolina’s pottery for inspiration for her collection of bowls in the exhibit.
“North Carolina has a lot of history of pottery and a lot of traditional pottery,” she said.
Fischer said her love of clay comes from the ability to mold it into anything.
“It can be very liquid and malleable, and then when you fire it, it’s one of the most permanent materials,” she said.
“I’ve found that it’s one of the best media for getting the effects that I desire, which are these really fluid and soft forms for things that are still very powerful and strong.”
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