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What are the limitations of clay? Clay can be shaped, molded, tossed, pinched, paddled, etc. – the possibilities seem endless. Clay has certain characteristics that, unless you are aware of them, can cause many problems when working with it. It needs to have just the right amount of moisture for the specific project. It needs to have „resting‟ time, otherwise, will collapse and crumble. It has to have just the right timing for additions and subtractions. Its drying time has to be „babysat‟ by the artist, or it will dry too quickly and crack. Knowing and learning of these different characteristics allows an artist to create just about anything imaginable. I would like to present two ceramic pieces, illustrating the vast possibilities of clay.

My first project submission is a "verisimilitude" (the appearance of being true or real). We were challenged to create something from clay that isn't originally ceramic. My ceramics professor introduced me to a “Trompe L'Oeil” (Realism) artist, Marilyn Levine, who creates bags, leather coats, shoes, etc. from clay. I was extremely inspired by this artist‟s work and decided to create a purse from clay. After a few trial and errors, I decided to use the slab method of building this piece. Using a newspaper armature, I began by placing several slabs of clay around the form and creating all of the different textures and details that my purse had. After slowly drying the piece, it was then fired in a kiln (the process to remove water from clay). After this, I experimented with paint, wax, shoe polish, etc. until I came up with the color and texture of the paint I needed. Lastly, I painstakingly glued thread into the "seams" and with a toothpick, I carefully painted the stitches to complete the project.

My second project submission is a "paddled" piece, which is an entirely different process that the one I just described. Again, I was inspired by an artist that my professor introduced me to her work – Kate Tremmel – who studied the paddling process in Peru. In this process, you begin with a ball of clay and begin paddling the clay into the form that you want. This process, too, presents its own particular problems to overcome, such as clay drying out too fast, getting too thin or too thick, knowing when the clay needs to rest and knowing when it is ready to continue. The outcomes from paddling can be very striking and thin ceramic pieces.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Event location
    • Robinson Ballroom

  • Event date
    • 21 March 2012

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Jennifer Graff