Prior to 2014, I’d not delved into anything resembling conceptual work. That changed late last summer, when I happened upon a scintillating, rippling beachscape at the tiny seaside village of Summerhaven, in south St John’s County. Summerhaven consists of a few beachside homes, a convenience store and a restaurant just south of historic Matanzas Inlet. Most of those homes are protected by a stone seawall which, when the tide is very high, generates a tidal backwash which leaves in its wake a variegated wonderland of glimmering pools; textured, sea-seeking rivulets; and multi-layered sand drifts.
I snapped some photos of some of the beach features and almost immediately began thinking of how I might, through clay, render those images, or at least the feelings they produced. After all, the Summerhaven beach environment and pots are made of the same essential stuff: earth and water. The result is an ongoing series of covered jars, topped by what I call pagoda lids, with both the bodies and lids decorated with layers of wet clay (slip).
I’ve used slip fairly liberally in the past on all the forms I throw. My second pottery teacher, Jeff Kirk at Glen Echo Pottery, was masterful at using slip. The textured surface it creates highlights, and is highlighted by, glazes that “break,” rendering sometimes dramatically different colors where the glaze is thin (on the edges of the surfaces) and thick (in recesses), with further variations in-between. The differences can sometimes be so dramatic that it is hard to believe that the same glaze can render so many colors, depending on texture of the clay beneath it.
I’ve produced 12 Summerhaven jars so far, including three in my last, mid-March, firing. As the series has progressed, I’ve managed to eliminate some unwanted cracking in the slipped areas and get my blue glaze, Woos Blue, to look more blue than brown by adjusting its thickness. I also think I like the more upright posture of the latest versions.
I’ve posted a related gallery of images of Summerhaven itself and several Summerhaven pots. Thanks for your interest, such as it might be.