Carved Soda-fired Teacup

Sarah Reesor Ceramics

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Early in my artistic career I found myself drawn to the medium of clay. I am intrigued by how it
requires the artist’s complete engagement with the materials throughout the entire process of
creation. Clay is tactile, it is incredibly responsive, and it requires the sense of touch as much as
that of sight. Touch is essential to the process of creation, and it is equally essential to the
viewer/handler’s understanding of the work. In the western world we are taught from an early
age to look with our eyes not with our hands. However, having a tactile relationship with my
pottery–throughout the creation and after completions–gives me a deeper connection to my
art, and I hope that it will do the same for those who encounter it. This is also why I choose to
create primarily functional ware. I want my work to be a part of daily experience. I want the
owners to handle and use each piece, to recall the long and close connection between humans
and ceramics.
My interest in touch led me to begin carving the surfaces of my ceramics. When I am carving I
can feel the sharp edges of my tools, the contours of the vessel as I work around it, the
consistency of the clay as I cut through it. I feel very connected to the piece as I explore every
curve and hollow; as I work the surface itself becomes three dimensional. This carved surface is
visually compelling, while also demanding the tactile interaction of the viewer.
To enhance the texture and surface complexity of my pieces, I soda fire my work. This is a
process where a solution of soda ash is sprayed into the kiln while at a high temperature; the
sodium vaporizes and combines with the silica in the surface of the clay creating layers of
sodium-silicate glaze. This type of atmospheric firing–similar to wood firing–creates a varied
surface texture and appearance and interacts with the pot itself and the carved surfaces in
fascinating and sometimes surprising ways.