Let’s Talk About:

Ugly Glaze

Using sourdough as a lockdown medium for creating my sculpture had be examine the relationship of holes in surface texture more closely. I would like to recreate this crater effect in ceramics with experimental glazes. The contrast of these solid forms, chemically reacting to a volatile substance such as silicon carbide, that erodes the surface with unpredictable results. 1 I like that (in ceramic form) these holes are now frozen from further development once removed from the kiln. They have gone through evolutionary changes through exposure to heat, movement and time – not unlike the formation of this planet itself, our bodies, cells and the countless of other organic/non-organic substrates that go through a similar process: leaving only the impression of the parasitic or time-shifted influence. I’m itching to try this when I get access to a kiln again. I’m currently obsessed with Sasha Koozel Reibstein’s blobtastic pieces, where she emphasises “ugly” eroded surfaces with slick, seductive drips.

images courtesy of Sasha Koozel Reibstein

Reibstein’s work is more than just terrestrial/celestial formations. Her sculptures are packed with emotion with themes around mental health. Even her use of gold depicts the nature of this element forming under pressure, and how that pressure mimics her own battles with physical or mental pressure. “Reibstein finds parallels between these mysterious, violent, and volatile cosmic processes, and the embodied experience of mental illness. Intense pressure and extreme conditions can have unmooring physiological effects, but they can also produce gold, or turn clay into solid, gleaming sculpture. All of us—and all things—are composed of different combinations of the same basic elements, tapped from the same primal energy source. ” 2

Image courtesy of HereIn Journal.

I can’t help but notice the similarities in her method making to my own – the repetitive forms to manage tension in relationships. The cosmic, otherworldly, organic presentation of these forms. Finding parallels in the subject matter and presenting something that is both alluring with disturbing underlining qualities. Reibsten also has interest in transformation and fantasized states of being: “transcendence of the body, the mind, and the present.” Black holes, portals, alternate universes, time travel, enlightened states of consciousness and forms of escape in relation to political ideologies (in her case, American democracy). 3

  1. Linda Bloomfield, Special Effect Glazes (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2020).
  2. Elizabeth Rooklidge, “Jordan Karney Chaim on Sasha Koozel Reibstein,” HereIn (HereIn, July 7, 2021), https://www.hereinjournal.org/essays/jordan-karney-chaim-on-sasha-koozel-reibstein.
  3. Ibid.