Some glaze results

I’ve been commuting 22 miles round-trip to MPTW. I wend my way past farms, housing developments, and through small towns. Some mornings the mist settles in the valleys full of fall colors illuminated by the rising sun and the effect is just magnificent. It’s no wonder that so many new people have settled in the area. I suspect the farms have adapted to this new landscape as a result, for better or worse. Since I’ve lived in suburban/urban New Jersey for over a decade, I rarely visit the many farms in “the Garden State.” Thanks to my recent commute and to a tile commission this fall, I have been thinking a lot about farms and it has stirred up a wee bit of nostalgia for rural life much to my surprise. I grew up on a 50-acre farm in rural Tennessee. I remember playing for hours in the red-painted barns used for various purposes such as storing hay (and building hay forts), boarding horses’ tackle or for chickens, or for storing useful things saved for some mysterious future purpose. The Tobacco barn, for example, was never used for drying tobacco in my lifetime but it was filled with tools in my dad’s workshop, cut wood neatly stacked by us kids (aka drones), as well as housing a few outdoor cats, and the occasional possum.

One of my tile clients retired to a farm out in rural New Jersey this year that I love to visit for our meetings. Surrounded by rolling hills and trees, the red barns they plan to restore smell of dirt, hay and old wood. There is an old tiled silo and an icebox house on this former dairy farm. When we discussed making hearth tile for their fireplace, we settled on a landscape theme that would feature these lovely barns. I made a couple of perspectives of the same area in a red commercial clay body. Luckily, I decided to make molds of the murals so that I could experiment with different glazes. I took these molds with me to Moravian this fall to experiment with their local terra cotta clay and lead glazes too.  (And I swear, even the occasional bag of Moravian clay that was, in fact, dredged from a lake in Bucks County smells just like the horse barn I remember from childhood! *phew*)  But smells aside, what a different aesthetic! Here is one of the farm views done in two different finishes:


Thanks to using molds, the practice of making and remaking the same design multiple times can result in some new discoveries and decisions about the design itself. I guess that’s why artists call their series “studies.” Maybe the revisions only assuage the boredom of repeating a process but regardless, the piece evolves and, in some respect, the artist evolves, too.

Henry Mercer’s own property was converted from farmland into what is now a park with a large wooded area where he installed cement bridges over streams, cultivated trees, planted periwinkle, shrubs and berries. There are former entrances marked with cement gateways on three of the four sides of the property but those routes are now barely more than walking paths for local residents and their dogs. There is an intriguing old building, a former farmhouse perhaps, that is tucked into the woods that can’t be seen from the Pottery. Even that old building was adorned with tiles but sadly, it’s also graced with graffiti and iron bars welded into the windows to prevent kids from hanging out inside the unstable structure. Friends of the Pottery do clear away brush and weeds from the area and perhaps one day, there will be the vision and the funds to create something from that ruin once again.


On a completely different note, I finished the encaustic tiles that I wrote about in my last post. They are terra cotta with white slip, then glazed with Moravian’s “DeMorgan” glaze, which is really a shiny amber. Here’s a photo of the result:

I look forward to trying out this technique again with my white clay at home and perhaps blended with mason stains for contrast.

8 Responses to “Some glaze results”

  1. Anne Evans November 18, 2015 at 3:26 am #

    Lovely, Theresa. You capture the rural smells so well it took me back to my childhood and the farms I would roam near the estuary of the River Thames! And I love to hear about and learn about the world of tile, about which I know absolutely nothing except that of you lived in California, I would certainly commission you to do my tilework!

    Keep the blogs coming; I love them!

  2. Theresa November 18, 2015 at 3:27 am #

    Thanks, Anne! I can ship… 🙂

  3. kim November 18, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Amazing work! You are so talented and I can see the memories and spirit in your pieces 🙂

  4. Theresa November 18, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    Thanks, Kim!

  5. Lucille November 18, 2015 at 11:29 am #

    You are so talented in so many ways. You evolve in many directions as you travel through your personal series of “life”. Someday when I have my farm with my kiln and horse in the back yard I hope that when you visit that you get inspired to continue your fabulous work.

  6. Linda November 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Beautiful work. You are so talented. We always love it when you are at the studio. You light up the studio with your presence. Keep up the creative juices. You will make it. You are a star


  7. Theresa November 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    Thanks, Lucille, I will definitely visit!

  8. Theresa November 19, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    Thanks, Linda!

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