HOW I LEARNED TO USE COLORED CLAY

From 1991 to 2001 I supported my studio by creating Ornaments. This is not a glamorous area of pottery but the income meant I could take time to make my more Artistic work.

I learned by doing. There were not a lot of books and no Google searches. Experienced potters either had no idea what I was trying to do or no idea why I was doing these frivolous “ Ornaments”.

 It was "on the job” training.

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At first they were limited to Holiday Ornaments but as my reputation grew I was selling them year round to resorts in the U.S., the Caribbean and Hawaii.

My first yearly Ornaments were made with plain white clay.

white

At this time I was using a Cone 6 porcelain that fired to a creamy white.

Ic1ic3


Then, I discovered colored clay, making canes  & designing patterns.


All of my Artwork rocketed in a whole different direction.


This is the ‘Icon’ Angel, one of my first Angel designs. These however are not part of the first years of work. 



These intricate patterns were created after years of work. I had to learn to create the canes and assemble five piece objects without warping or cracking.


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hope angel


I needed to make thousands of them so learned production pottery methods as I went along. 

The pace was quite relentless before November each year.




Angels were very popular at Holiday time and I designed a new one every year. 

At this time I used a tinsmith to make several new cutters each year.





her angel



I kept track of the colors that sold and the combinations that were popular.


Every year brought a new challenge for executing a design with 5 - 8 pieces in an efficient production way.




Sometimes my studio seemed like a madhouse!

I tried to work with assistants but they thought each Ornament was precious and could not bear to discard seconds. 

This created panic situations when I did not have enough ‘firsts' to ship.

J1



Each angel seemed to take on its own personality.


Once the year was done the cutters were discarded and the Ornament was not made again.




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These are some of the Ornaments I created for Galleries in Hawaii.

aloha


Getting the grass skirt right on my ‘Aloha Angel’ was always a challenge.


Some Galleries did not like the belly button! So I made theirs without one.

Hawaii
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When I began making turtles I got a lot of comments about how they were not accurate so I decided to make them outlandish so no one would expect it to be real.

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fishy




These fish were for Galleries in the Caribbean and Virgin Islands.




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dolphins



I caught a lot of grief for these dolphins not being whatever dolphin was nearby the resort.

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This ‘ African Angel' was one of my favorite Angel designs. I did a lot of research to make sure I was creating appropriate patterns.

AA2









I made these as a tribute to the strong African American women I was meeting.

They were holding their families together and standing up for them. 


911 angel





This all came to an end in 2001.


This is my limited edition 9/11 Angel. 


I made 50 as a special order for a good customer.


After 9/11many of the resort Galleries went out of business due to lack of tourism. Imports were making a hard impact on the market for handmade Ornaments. Finally I was forced to admit that Hand made Ornaments were a thing of the past.

I thoroughly enjoyed these years of being a part of hundreds of family traditions. Many trees still carry one of each of my designs. 

I still get phone calls at Christmas from panicky people who have broken someone's favorite and "do I have another one somewhere?"

Often I do which is why my personal tree does not have all of my designs. Who can say NO at Holiday time??


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 © Chris Campbell 2019