Arts, Crafts, Textiles and Design -
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Arts, Crafts, Textiles and Design -

Arts, Crafts, Textiles and DesignWe saw in the 18 th century that our modern conceptof art changed when European philosophersseparated painting, sculpture, and architecture fromother kinds of skilled making and placed themtogether with poetry and music in a new categorycalled the fine arts.However, this grouping is more cultural (Western) than natural to allhumans.Several media such as clay, glass, metal, wood and so on have beenused creatively by people for many years before philosophers ofEurope made divisions in the arts.

ClayCeramics – means “of pottery,” is the art ofmaking objects from clay, a naturally occuringearth substance. When dry clay has a powderyconsistency; mixed with water, it becomesplastic – that is, moldable and cohesive.It is in this wet form that the clay may be modeled,pinched, rolled, or shaped between the hands. Once aclay form has been built and permitted to dry, it willhold its shape, but it is very fragile

To ensure permanence, the clay form must be fired in a kiln, attemperatures ranging between 1,200 and 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit(sometimes higher). Firing changes the chemical composition ofclay so that it can never again be made plastic.

Black Pottery CauldronHemudu CultureYuyao, Zhejiang Province,ChinaCa 5000 – 3000 B.C.E.Cultures from aroundthe world as far backas 18,000 years ago(China) have beenusing clay to createdecorative, utilitarianand ceremonial items.

Ceramic Trees of Life from Mexico.

One main requirement for ceramic objects is thatthey be hollow and have thin walls. The reasonfor this is that the thicker the clay the higher theprobability of an explosion in the kiln (due totemperature differences and/or gasses in thematerial). There are many specialized formingtechniques.Slab construction is a technique where themaker rolls out the clay into thin sheets andassembles an object by cutting and piecing thepieces together, by forming it over a mold, or bycurling it into a shape.

Coil construction is anothertechnique used when makingceramic objects. The makerbasically rolls the clay into a longcoil and then rolls the coil onto itselfusing slip to bind it.Then the makersmoothes out theedges (usually)and repeats theprocess until thedesired form isreached.

Maria Martinez was already known forher thin, well-formed coil built pots whenshe was asked by archeologist Edgar LeeHewett to duplicate some black pottery hehad found in the ruins around SanIldefonso. Maria and her son Julianexperimented and found that smotheringthe fire with manure to reduce the oxygenwould turn the pots black.Several years later, her son Julian startedpainting designs on the black pots withmatte black paint, creating the style thetwo are best known for. Maria lived a longlife and made pottery with many of her family members, most ofwhich is jointly signed. Plain black pottery made entirely by Maria issigned Maria Poveka, her Tewa name.

Maria MartinezBlack on Blackearthenware pottery

The fastest method of creating ahollow, rounded form is bymeans of the potter’s wheel. Thefist “modern” potter’s wheelswere developed in China about1,000 years ago.The ceramicist centers a piece ofclay in the middle of a disc thatrotates rapidly. The maker mustthen center the piece of clay onthe disc as its moving and thenopen the clay and lift it intoshape. This is commonlyreferred to as “throwing.”

Ceramicists use several different types of clay bodies as ameans to an end for the project. Each clay body hasdifferent properties.Earthenware – is one of the oldest materials used inpottery. Used extensively for tableware and decoration,earthenware is usually from a red clay (most common),white clay, or buff clay. Earthenware is not as strong asother clay bodies and fires at a low temperature 900 –1,900 F.

Stoneware – typically fired at higher temperaturesthan earthenware . Typically can be fired atanywhere from 900 degrees F to 2,300 degrees F.Stoneware is typically more dense and sturdy thanearthenware.Once a clay body is fired above cone 6 which is about2,220 F to 2,260 F the clay body becomes vitreous tosemi-vitreous.Some low fire ceramics may be made semi-vitreousto vitreous by the application of glazes.

Porcelain is a type of ceramic that is made by mixingKaolin (a fine white clay) with a finely groundpetunse or porcelain stone. When fired at hightemperatures, elements in the mixture fuse into aglassy substance, resulting in a hard, white ,translucent ceramic.The secret of porcelain was discovered and perfectedin China and for hundreds of years potters elsewheretried without success to duplicate it.

Ceramic Glazes- Ceramic glazes consist of powderedminerals in water. When fired, they fuse into nonporousglasslike coating that bonds with the clay. Variousminerals, chemicals, and methods of firing glazes givethem variety of colors depending.Ceramic glazes generally contain silica to form glass, incombination with a mixture of metal oxides such as sodium,potassium and calcium which act as a flux and allow the glaze tomelt at a particular temperature, alumina (usually from addedclay) to stiffen the glaze and prevent it from running off the piece.Colorants would be minerals such as iron oxide, copper carbonateor cobalt carbonate, and sometimes opacifiers such as tin oxide orzirconium oxide.

George Ohr was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, on July12, 1857. He was the son of German immigrants whoarrived in New Orleans around 1850 and subsequentlymarried and moved to Biloxi.George Ohr tried his hand a various trades before hebecame interested in ceramics in 1879, while anapprentice of Joseph Fortune Meyer. Ohr marriedJosephine Gehring of New Orleans on September 15,1886. Ten children were born to the Ohrs, butunfortunately only five survived to adulthood. GeorgeOhr died on April 7, 1918.

George E. Ohr(July 12, 1857 – April 7, 1918),The self-proclaimed "Mad Potter of Biloxi," was anAmerican ceramic artist. In recognition of hisinnovative experimentation with modern clay formsfrom 1880 - 1910

Peter Voulkos(1924-2002)From the earliest work out of Montana to themonumental late sculpture, Peter Voulkos establishedhimself as the leader of a revolution in ceramics.Born as Panagiotis Harry Voulkopoulos, He first studiedpainting and ceramics at Montana State University (then MontanaState College) in Bozeman, then earned an MFA degree from theCalifornia College of the Arts. He began his career producingfunctional dinnerware in Bozeman, Montana. His talent wasquickly recognized and he soon began winning prizes. In 1953,Voulkos was invited to teach a summer session ceramics courseat Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina.

Voulkos' sculptures are famous for their visual weight, theirfreely-formed construction, and their aggressive andenergetic decoration. He would vigorously tear, pound,and gouge the surfaces of his pieces.In 1979 he was introduced to the use of wood kilns byPeter Callas; much of his late work is wood-fired. PeterVoulkos loved working with an audience. He died of anapparent heart attack on February 16, 2002 afterconducting a college ceramics workshop at Bowling GreenState University, Ohio, demonstrating his skill to liveaudience. He was 78.


GlassGlass is primarily made from silica or ground sand. It iswith the addition of other materials that glass gets itscoloring and strength.When heated, glass becomes molten, and in that state itcan be shaped by several different methods. Unlikeclay, glass never changes chemically as it moves from asoft, workable state to a hard rigid one. As glass cools,it hardens but it can then be reheated and renderedmolten again for further working.

The secret to making glass was discovered around 3,500B.C.E. in Mesopotamia (near present day Syria andnorthern Iraq).From there the technology spread to nearby Egypt andthen to Greece.Egyptian bottleca. 1,400 B.C.E.

The bottle we just looked at was formed by an ancienttechnique known as sand-core casting. In that method,a core of compacted clay and sand was made in theshape of the cavity of the intended vessel.Wrapped in cloth and set on the end of a long rod, thecore was plunged into a vat of molten glass andremoved for further work such as smoothing anddecoration. After the glass had cooled, the core wasscraped out.

The most familiar way to shape hollow glass vesselssuch as bottles and bowls is by “blowing.” Blowingglass is when the artist dips up a mass of molten glassat the end of a long metal tube and, by blowing intothe other end of the tube, produces a glass bubble thatcan be shaped or cut while it is hot and malleable.

The special branch of glasswork known as stained glassis a technique used for windows, lampshades, and similarstructures that permit light to pass through.Stained glass is made by cutting sheets of glass invarious colors into small pieces, then fitting the piecestogether to form a pattern.These pieces are often joined by strips of lead. The 12 thand 13 th centuries in Europe were a golden age forstained glass. Light was viewed as a spirituallytransforming substance.

Tree of Jesse, Chartres Cathedral,France c. 1150-1170.The central motif is a branching treethat portrays the royal lineage ofMary, Mother of Jesus. The treesprings from the loins of the biblicalpatriarch Jesse, depicted asleep at thebase of the window. Growingupward, it enthrones in turn fourkinds of Judaea, then Mary, thenJesus himself

FiberA fiber is a pliable, threadlike strand. Almost all naturallyoccurring fibers are either animal or vegetable in origin.Animal fibers include silk, wool and hair from animalssuch as alpacas and goats.Vegetable fibers include cotton, flax, raffia, sisal, rushes,and various grasses.Fibers and lend themselves to a variety of techniques anduses. Some can be spun into yarn and woven into textiles.Others can be pressed into felt or twisted into rope orstring. Others can be plaited to create baskets and otherstructures.

Feathreed baskect,Pomoc. 1877,Willow, Bulrush,fern, feather, shell,glass beads.The Pomo people who’s lands were in present day California, carrieda tradition of weaving that was extraordinary. Legend says that aPomo ancestor stole the sun from the gods to light the dark earth. Hehung it aloft in a basket that he moved across the sky. The baskets arelinked to larger ideas about the universe.

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