political mugs 3.23.2017

With the current political climate in the United States, I’ve been thinking about how I can incorporate my politics into my art. I don’t want to be strictly a political artist… I don’t think… but you never know what might lurk behind a door you choose to open!

After my eldest daughter Elly showed me a poster she made for the Women’s March that occurred in cities and towns throughout the U.S. back in January of this year, I liked her cardboard and black marker art so much that I decided to incorporate it into some mugs. Thanks Elly!


The symbolism in her poster is the female power symbol, made of the female gender, female organism, or Venus symbol, along with a fist. According to Wikipedia, this is an anarcha-feminism symbol. Some suggest this symbol is appropriated from black power. This may be true, AND I believe art always has been – and should be – copied and re-used and re-configured. Also, the raised or clenched fist is a symbol with even a longer herstory – it’s a symbol of solidarity and support, and “Assyrian depictions of the goddess Ishtar show her raising a clenched fist.” The RESIST word on the poster, along with the female power symbol, for ME, means, in basic language, that I stand with other women and people for women’s rights.


So, back to the mugs. I made these four mugs a couple months ago, two with handles and two without. When the clay was leather-hard, I applied a rectangle of black slip (thin clay) to the front and back of each cup. The black slip looks brown until it’s fired at a high temperature in the kiln, and then it turns black.


After the slip dried a bit, I carved out the design. This pic shows the design and my carving tools. You may wonder why I call a paint brush a carving tool. When I use my finger to wipe away the clay that’s carved away, I sometimes smudge the piece, or rub the carved clay bits back in to the clay. The paint brush is a better tool to lightly brush away the carved clay without smudging or rubbing. I really like the woodcut look I get when I carve through the black slip. The symbol on the back of each mug is a triple spiral, which to me means the triple goddess – maiden, mother, and crone.


Here’s a closeup. You can see better how much it looks like a woodcut or a linoleum cut. Super cool!


This pic shows the four cups after they were bisque fired, and before I put on the glaze. You can see how the slip that looked brown turned into a dark gray, and it’ll get even blacker with the next firing at an even higher temperature. After the glaze was applied, they were fired again.


And here’s a pic after they got out of the kiln. The top two mugs were the glaze fails. The glaze I painted over the carved images was too thick and too opaque. So I REfired the two mugs with handles, which didn’t fix the problem, plus it made the once groovy turquoise glaze bubbly. The two handle-less mugs turned out great! I’m currently making more of those, but without the triple spiral design.


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