TREAT LYON original contemporary
painting & sculptureThumbnails
POTS to STONE
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.