Until 2016 I was a ceramicist. Nowadays I still consider myself an artist but I no longer have a kiln and work in other materials and other forms of art.
My ceramics was focused mainly on sculptural and abstract forms.
* Abstract means it’s not recognizable as a real or figurative subject
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Table of Contents
- 1 Different points of view
- 2 Inspiration comes from others
- 3 Inspiration comes from the material
- 4 Inspiration comes out of the blue
- 5 Inspiration from one work to the next
- 6 Safety first
Different points of view
My parents didn’t allow me – being 16 at that time – to go to the Academy of Visual Arts, so I took a diversion by going to the Academy of Visual Education instead, where I got a teacher’s degree and could still educate myself, and later others, in art.
My major back then was ceramics, my minor was 3D mixed media.
As soon as I lived on my own and had a job, I could do what I wanted and attended evening classes at the Arts Academy, majoring in painting, thus ending up with two educations in fine arts.
This was a huge advantage because now I became acquainted with different points of view regarding art.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. ~Aristotle
Inspiration comes from others
Workshops for example
Because of my character and my schooling, I am very inquisitive. On a regular basis, I attended workshops on specific techniques and I loved to try out new things.
Several years ago the Danish Barbro Aberg came to Holland to lecture and I got really inspired by her technique of mixing clay with perlite.
The obtainable perlite in Holland is much different from the Danish kind, so my outcome differed from Aberg’s result, but it got me so enthusiastic that I worked a lot in the mix I learned to make then. I made some alterations of my own along the way to meet my needs.
Art is 5% inspiration and 95% transpiration
Different countries, various practices
I bought my perlite at a construction wholesale company and tried a number of experiments before making any objects with it.
The product that is available at some other stores is categorized in the garden section, so it might have a different function than mine.
Inspiration comes from the material
Varied techniques create different results
Perlite is used in the Netherlands as an isolation material in fireplaces between the mantelpiece and the chimney pipe. According to Barbro, it has a way finer structure in Denmark. The kind I had was pretty rough.
The proportions that I used:
- 2 units of paper fibres (toilet paper);
- 8 units of ball clay;
- 4 units of perlite;
- 3 units of grog;
- 4 units of water (although this may vary, depending on how wet the paper fibres are).
- Mix toilet paper with a lot of water and let it rest for a day or two;
- Pour out the excess water;
- Crush the fibres with a mixer;
- Mix the ingredients;
- Blend the mix gradually;
- Spread it on a plaster plate;
- When it’s dry enough, knead it thoroughly by hand.
What I loved most about my own mixture was the beautiful skin it gave to the clay, which I emphasized by washing the work with a thin, coloured engobe after the first firing.
Inspiration comes out of the blue
A thoughtless remark set off a new series
Years ago I was exhibiting my work in Belgium and friends came by to watch. At the time I created a set of sculptures based on geometric forms and one of my friends thought it resembled crashed aeroplanes.
His remark triggered ideas about engines, blades and rotors. A lot of sketching was followed by a visit to the Aviodrome, a theme park about aeroplanes, where I was generously allowed to make lots of pictures.
Inspiration from one work to the next
Working in series
I usually worked in series. Sometimes working on one sculptural form led to the next because I couldn’t quite achieve what I had in mind. Or I got new ideas about the next one during the process. And sketching led to several different ideas as well.
The series were for example:
- Holding On;
Whenever I mixed dry powders or when I made my slips with oxides of heavy metals I had a mask firmly on my face.
Each substance that is burned can contain toxins, so I didn’t enter my workplace when the kiln is on and I kept the outside door of my atelier open during the process.
Better safe than sorry!
Later addition: some of the materials used in a ceramics workplace made me more and more uncomfortable over time. This is one of the reasons I quit being a ceramicist in 2016.
All pictures and works of art © Hannie Mommers