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erin carpenter

Medium: Ceramics

Booth #: LN3

Objects reflect ourselves. My work captures the paradoxical delicacy and strength of porcelain. I draw my inspiration from historical reticulated porcelain, reinterpreted with art nouveau inspired patterns, and filtered through a contemporary lens. The play of positive and negative space draws the viewer deep into the piece; when viewed from certain angles, the carving overlaps and creates additional depth and pattern. The physical tension at each intersection, together with imperfect symmetry, contradict the enchanting elegance and perceived fragility of each overall form. The conversation between strength and delicacy, tension and depth, imperfection and beauty all resonate with my own humanity.

I grew up in the farmlands of Illinois, spending my free time exploring the fields, timber and creeks, accumulating scars in old barns, playing softball and swimming, fawning over spring kittens, and making crafts at home. After graduating from Iowa State University with a bachelors in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Studies, I turned my focus to a new love — taekwondo. I currently co-instruct the APR Taekwondo program with my husband. I especially love training with and coaching the competition team and look forward to the national championships every summer.

Missing the creative process and reward of working with my hands, I went looking for a new artistic outlet and took a wheel-throwing workshop in the winter of 2012. Clay became an addiction, and I quit my day-job to be a full-time potter in 2015. The process to make each piece starts on my potter’s wheel. Each vessel is thrown, trimmed and sometimes altered — all by hand. Handles are pulled by hand, attached, reinforced and smoothed.

I often experiment with different surface decoration techniques; carving, slip trailing, slip inlay, sponging and more. I draw my inspiration from art deco/nouveau motifs, architecture, and natural patterns. Pierced vases and bowls also begin on the potter’s wheel. After being thrown and trimmed I roughly draw in the design with a soft pencil. The design is cut with a knife, and outside edges are smoothed with a wet sponge. The porcelain is tricky — too soft and it mushes up, too dry and it cracks. The finer the design, the more cuts and the more time it takes.

Although I work in series, every piece is completely unique, made by me in my studio in Ames, IA. Each piece is dried slowly and bisque-fired. After a dip in either a clear or celadon liquid glaze, the work is fired for a second time. Gold luster is added after the glaze firing and those pieces are fired a third time.

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