Michael & Christine Adcock Mixed Media Clay & Fiber Art
A Collaborative Process That Spans Several Weeks
The process of creating our collaborative vessels of clay and natural fibers is an extended one, spanning a period of several weeks.
Our Vessels are Hand-thrown on a Potter’s Wheel, Hand-built from Slabs, or Slip Cast
All vessel forms are hand-thrown first on a potter’s wheel, hand-built from slabs or slip cast. When the form has dried sufficiently to allow handling (the “leather hard” stage) the form is then trimmed. This means that excess clay is shaved off with a sharp tool, in a process similar to that by which wood is shaped on a lathe.
Preparation for Fibers
After this, all notching, carving, and drilling on the pot is completed in preparation for later addition of the fibers. The pot is then allowed to dry completely.
Bisque Firing First and Sagger Firing Next
The first firing, the “bisque firing,” hardens the clay. The second, the “sagger firing,” is the color firing. Each pot is placed in a larger, lidded clay jar, called a “sagger.” A variety of combustible and inert materials, along with various mineral oxides and salts, are carefully packed into the space between the two vessels. The saggers are then stacked in a gas kiln and fired, at a lower temperature. As the materials in the sagger burn off, the smoke and fumes that are created permeate the clay body and color the pot. The pots are removed from the kiln and saggers, cooled, and prepared for the application of the fiber.
We Use Hand-Gathered Natural Materials
Most of the materials we use are hand-gathered, natural materials, indigenous to the area where we live. These include Torrey Pine Needles, date palm fruit stalks, date palm inflorescence, river willow, cottonwood, eucalyptus bark, dracaena draco leaves, jacaranda, acacia and agave seed pods, dried leaves and flower petals,, and birch bark imported from Maine. We are constantly on the lookout for new and interesting materials.
Some of these fibers are bleached, dyed, and even hand-painted to achieve the ideal shades and hues that will integrate them with the colors of the clay surfaces. They are then attached to the vessels by stitching, glueing, inlaying and weaving techniques. We have also recently begun to use hand-made papers from all over the world. These are painted with inks, and then torn and rearranged in a variety of collage treatments. Our intention in making these pieces is to create vessels that fully integrate the media in which we work, and that will reveal and enhance the inherent beauty of each.