ANGELA TREAT LYON original contemporary painting & sculpture



I was a potter for 16 years. I started out making homely little functional stoneware pots: cups and vases and bowls and such.

After a few years I could see that in order to be viable in the Real World I either had to make mass production ware or make unique pots that were so nice I could get incredible prices for them.

(The pot on the left is porcelain, 6" tall - sold)

Not being a mass-production kinda gal at the time, I chose unique studio pottery. Much more fun.

I spent several years experimenting and testing clay bodies, underglaze stains and glazes - both formulaic and empirical. I ended up with a beautiful line of thin, very high-fired porcelain pots you could see light through, and that were decorated in a very tight, bold style no-one has yet to figure how I did.

The secret was in two parts: the underglaze stain and the glaze itself. Maybe one day I'll reveal my secrets - in the meantime it's fun to hear, Angela, I still can't figure out how you got those clear lines, and that matt clear glaze - especially firing at 3000 degrees!

I loved making pots. Getting my hands into the clay and creating something out of it as well! Imagine that! I could get dirty all I wanted and it still produced something of value!

I designed and built a fantastic kiln - the guys who helped me build it and I called it Orgo-Max - it practically burst with energy as I fired it - and it never had a cold spot in it. It was a four-foot square cube with front and back burners on alternate sides, with a top updraft vent. Firewalls up four bricks on either side to keep the flames off the pots. It never gave me a bad firing. I was sorry to dismantle it when I decided to focus on carving stone. I still remember it with love.

Then, disaster struck: I was in a very bad car wreck in 1981.

Someone ran a red light, hit the back of my car, and when my car spun around on the slick street, the front of it hit yet another car.

Nothing like being slammed on both sides!

The first doc I went to said I wouldn't walk again. I fired him. I fired the next three, as well. How was I supposed to continue my life without being able to walk? With two very lively little boys? Right!  

A friend turned me on to a chiropractor who just happened to live and work right down my own street. I had to be driven there the first few times, but within a very short period he had me not only walking but out of pain. Let's hear it for the Palmer method!

Earlier that year, I had a huge show of my pots in San Francisco. I met someone who, later on, gave me a piece of soapstone. I sat right down on the tailgate of my truck, got out my pocketknife and carved it into a little oddly-shaped frog.

I was hooked. I thought: ahh! - no more bending over fragile pots scraping intricate designs in underderglazes (got that? A tiny part of The Secret has Been Revealed!). I determined right then and there to quit pots and only do carving.

I tried to stay with pots as a smooth-transition thing, but my heart wasn't in it. Maybe that's why the car wreck - the Universe was saying, Angela! Wake up! Give up the pots a'ready and get on with the carving!

Everyone told me not to give up making pots. But I couldn't help it - I only wanted to carve - why make pots to carve on when I could just carve without having to make pots at all??

All I could think of was stone and what I was going to do with it!

So I slowly sold off all my pottery tools, clays and equipment - even the kiln. 

As I continued to learn about stone, I wanted to finish off the remainder of the glaze materials I couldn't sell off. I still had a small electric kiln that I had used for bisque firings. So I made up batch after batch of strange goo that I poured into milk cartons.

I removed the final, dried blocks and carved them. Some of them fell apart at the first touch.

Some cracked two days later into a milion pieces. Some made it through a firing, but then fell apart.

I eventually got a mix down that was part glaze materials, Mt. St. Helen's ash, garden sand and - since I was back again in my beloved Hawaii - some crushed lava rock.

When I first started shifting from making pots to carving in-the-round, I had a lot of difficulty thinking in 3-d. I had been so accustomed to thinking in terms of bas relief that it took a while to get so 3-d was easy.

I used up my remaining clay making some coil-built sculptures - the one to the left here is Ben - he was a little guy I saw one night out of the corner of my eye crouching up on the top of my outdoor stairs - when I looked again - he was gone!

Ben now lives on Kauai. His humans give him orchid, pikaki and maile leis from time to time - and he gives them good luck!

Below to the right is Wanda - she was one of those pieces I never got to live with for long since she was bought up so fast.

She was also coil-built. I started at the base of the piece, and slowly built up coils of clay, shaping and texturing them with a little paddle of wood I'd made.

When I got to the top, her head just kinda flopped - at first I was upset, but then later it looked OK - so she's a little strange?

I experimented with cement, too. I have a friend who makes model airplanes.

When I complained how heavy these concrete pieces I made were, he suggested that I add micro-balloons to the mix.

Micro-balloons??? What the heck are they?

Micro-balloons look like a fine white powder. Kind of squeaky if you smush them between your fingers. But they're little micro-sized hollow balls that are used for fill when making model planes.

Putty is so heavy that it'll throw the plane out of balance. But m-b's are so light that you can use it as a filler without upsetting the balance of the plane.

Since I like to try weird stuff, I mixed it into my cement mixes - along with sand and garden dirt for interesting texture.

Below is Peace. She was made out of cement, micro-balloons, Mt. St. Helen's ash (the last of it!), garden dirt and sand. She is much lighter than regular concrete would be, but still very durable. I stained and sealed her, too.

I liked her so much I decided to cast her as a bronze. Click here to see Peace in bronze.

Before I made any bronzes, I tried playing around with wax and clay. I love to carve wax, but using it as a sculpture medium? Unh-uh! Not for me! We fought and kicked and hollered - forget it!

I tried clay, too, and ended up feeling the same. Why? As a carving medium, wax is fantastic.

But wax and clay are used traditionally in an additive process - you build with it, rather than taking material away as in stone or wood carving.

Give me a chisel and some files any day and I'll be happy as a clam at high tide.

These were some of the very first clay things I tried.

They were fun, but in my ignorance of the casting process I didn't know they wouldn't cast well without a lot of itty-bitty corrections that would take me too long to do.

So even though I loved the idea, I went on to other things.

These are ony a very few of the things I made on the way to stone-carving. They were done right about the same time I was making batik paintings, too - you can see those here.

I suppose one day I'll continue the tale with more story and pictures. But for now, here are stone sculptures and bronzes.

None of the pieces on this page are available, but f you see a sculpture or deisgn on these pages that you like and want to commission, I can create a piece for you that is similar to what you see here, or is a starting point for something different. Please make sure you read the information on commissions.




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