Works in progress

Here’s a glimpse into some of the new figurative work I’m exploring. The first is a paper clay form. Here it is in the sculpting stage:

Here it is, brushed with underglaze and ready to be loaded into the gas kiln for the final firing:

The second piece is stoneware with porcelain glazing and porcelain winged forms around the head. This one is still in the greenware stage. The wax circles on the cheeks allowed the stoneware to show through in those areas when I was applying the porcelain glazing.

Exploring figurative content is feeling rewarding and so challenging!

: debra :

Collaboration with Suzanne Stumpf.


These pieces are the result of a collaboration with Suzanne Stumpf, a ceramic artist from Natick (and former Mudflat artist). This collaboration began when Suzanne gave me a piece in the greenware state that she made with a combination of porcelain and paper clay. I added a grog-filled dark stoneware sculpture body using an expansion-style joint and split the piece into two. Then I bisque-fired the pieces and returned them to Suzanne to alter in the bisque state, glaze, and fire to cone 10 in her new electric kiln.

I find it interesting that these pieces have no ‘bottom’. They can rest on a surface in several orientations. Each orientation seems to express a different mood:

It was great fun surprising one another with our choices. We are looking forward to another collaboration, this time in reverse — I’ll start by giving Suzanne a greenware piece, she’ll add to it and bisque it, then I’ll glaze it. Look for the results here, and check out Suzanne’s work at www.ceramicsatthebarn.com

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Glass firing.

Bisque ware with fully fired porcelain inlay and glass — before . . .

Debra Fleury - glass firing

after!

Fully glazed and fired porcelain form with glass — before . . .

after!

This was a very fun experiment, but I spent a sleepless night hoping that I wasn’t going to have to buy a new kiln for Mudflat because my glass melted all over the place. Some did escape, but I fired on trays with sand in them. Whew!

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First days at Mudflat!

Debra Fleury sketches and inspiration

Debra Fleury and Angela Cunningham Celebrate

It is official. I moved into my artist residency studio on September first. Corks were popped. Sketches got pinned up, bags of clay opened, and the shelves have already started to fill up.

My first month goal is to make as much work as I can, as quickly as possible. Working with nothing but speed and volume as the goals has been liberating and instructive. I’m honing my intuitive relationship with the clay, perfecting the dance, and discovering new forms.

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Part of the rush to make is that I’m adding terra cotta to my repertoire and I need to get a feel for this clay body as quickly as possible.

At first I felt very disappointed with this body. It feels so lifeless to me. I’ve worked with only about 100 pounds so far, but I’m finally noticing that it does have something special to offer to my process and I am looking forward to working with a new glaze palette.

Stay tuned. I’ll share some of the results here.

: debra :

In!

Climbing Form

I’m sending out a big, ‘THANK YOU!’ to Mudflat Studio in Somerville for choosing me as their 2009-2010 Artist in Residence. I’ll be the 12th in the history of the studio. The other 11 former Artists in Residence are:

2008-2009 Deborah Schwartzkopf
2007-2008 Cathy Lu
2006-2007 Nicole Peters
2005-2006 Ryan Takaba
2004-2005 Angela Cunningham
2003-2004 Monica Ripley
2002-2003 Gabriel Penfield
2001-2002 Meghan Sullivan
2000-2001 Ruchika Madan
1999-2000 Karsten Kunert
1998-1999 Randy Fein

This is a very special opportunity to work in a private studio, surrounded by other amazing Mudflat artists and faculty. I’m looking forward to working in collaboration with many of them. Wahoo!

: debra :

The closed door.

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A friend of mine very kindly offered me the use of her private studio for two weeks, while she was away on holiday.

I was mad with excitement. For the first time in my clay experience I was going to be able to work behind a closed door, alone with my sketches and my thoughts. When the time came I spent every moment I could behind that door, making the same form over and over again.

What happened was magical. My thinking sharpened. I forgot myself for hours at a time, completely engrossed in the making. Soon I was surrounded by work, which was informing the work in my hands. Nothing was in the way of the process.

Two weeks and 202 pieces later I feel like I grew a dog’s year as an artist. I gained tremendous insight into my creative process and the ways of working that will feed it best.

And yes, there is definitely a closed door in my future.

: debra :

Moon Cherry?

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At the end of a dead-end street, right next to a roaring highway and a grocery store parking lot, there is a bench where no one sits. Behind the bench are three ordinary little trees that bear this curious fruit in the fall. Each is shaped, sized, and stemmed like a cherry — but they are a toxic-looking red with spiky protrusions.

On my way to the studio in the fall, I often find myself veering down this street to see if any have fallen. The juxtaposition of the familiar and the alien is fascinating to me.

: debra :

‘Cheesing’ on Adero.

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A few of the artists around the studio joke around about ‘cheesing’ on one another. Artists are influenced by their experiences, and part of that experience is the work of other artists. We can’t help being influenced by one another.

All the great movements in art were picked up and stretched by an informal collaborative of artists playing with similar ideas, building on one another’s work. Seeing other’s art helps me to see more clearly the possibilities for my own work — even if the style or the medium is completely different from mine.

I recently attended a surfaces workshop with Adero Willard at Mudflat Studio. She is completing the Salad Days Artist Residency at Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts. After these workshops, the shelves are invariably filled with riffs on the visiting artist’s work. You can walk by the shelves and say to yourself, ‘Looks like XYZ artist has been in town!’. Sometimes to integrate a technique or idea, we must first try it out the way we saw it before we can make it our own.

This piece is my ‘Adero’ piece. Those familiar with her work will recognize the influence, although the form itself is not an Adero-style form. So Adero, if you’re reading this — here is my homage piece to you, as yet unglazed. Check back here for the result, and thanks for a great workshop.

If you want to see some authentic pieces from Adero Willard, as only she can do them, go to www.watershedceramics.org. Or better yet, go to the Salad Days benefit and take one home with you!

: debra :

: f l e u r y b l u e :

everything seems possible

What inspires you? Tapping out a rhythm, choosing a color, writing a poem, running as fast as you can across a field — digging into some juicy clay?

I can tell when I’m inspired. The moment feels electric with possibilities and I lose the sense of time passing. That’s the ‘fleuryblue’ — that wide open space full of creative possibilities and interesting connections. But it is nothing unique. Everyone has their own special ‘fleuryblue’ to go to.

I laugh really hard when someone tells me they can’t hula hoop with these gargantuan hoops we’ve got. I laugh because I get to prove to them that not only can they do it, but it will be easy for them. Once they open the door (even just a little bit) the little kid inside of them comes running out and takes right over. Kids live in the fleuryblue. Watch them some time — they get it.

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