Sunday, May 26, 2019

What Difference A Curve Makes



Large Salad Bowl Form by Weston Neil Andersen: 10 inches diameter copyright Andersen Design 1970


Prototype of Form before lip was adjusted
The Large Salad Bowl with the two tones of blue leaves has been around for a long time. All the while I thought it was a beautiful decoration done on a bowl which had warped in the casting.
Recently. when photographing the bowls together, I realized I was wrong. The reason I thought the bowl was warped was because of what appeared to be a mis-shaped curve of the rim. I took it to be that the bowl had been trimmed when it was too wet and had released and curved inward. On closer examination, I realized it was not a casting error. The bowl was cast from a mold with a higher curve to the rim.

lip comparison

Observed side by side with another bowl it is obvious that there is no warping in the globe of the bowl. The blue flower bowl, shown from the back side, is the one on the right in the picture. Both bowls have perfectly formed globes. It is only the curve of the rim line which is different. This revelation identifies the blue leafed tree bowl as an original prototype which was cast and found unsatisfactory and so the form design was reworked, reshaping the curve of the cut-out lip.



The correct curve of the lip


This makes the bowl a very rare one of a kind casting of a prototype in the works. The bowl has some additional defects in an indented mold line, which is visible in the photo below and some small irregularities in the glaze application. While the curve of the lip is not right for the form of the bowl, this is only evident when looking down on it, Viewed from the front at a common placement, the curve of the lip is attractive and adds more room for the decorative tree, painted by Brenda, to grow. In the photo at the top of the page the form of the blue leaf bowl is not noticeably different from the other two and the tree is vibrant and vivacious.


The Working prototype is signed with capitalized letters spelling ANDERSEN, written in sgrafitto 



The bowl to the left is a vintage large salad bowl, ten inches in diameter The bowl is decorated with artistry characteristic of Brenda’s work.  

The execution of the form was problematic. The bowl was cast too thick and should have been tossed back into the slip tank to be reprocessed, but sometimes, in a moment of weakness, the slip-caster can’t bring themselves to do that and instead tries to fix it by thinning the curved lip of the bowl, causing a visible ridge along the rim as the thinned lip meets the heavy cast of the body. The bowl cracked during firing but the crack does not go all the way through the bowl and it holds liquid.  


The decoration of the bowl is perfectly executed in the first instant without any re-dos or touch ups giving the hand execution of the pattern an elegant and natural beauty expressing the inner confidence of the artist. The leaves have a crisp outline which requires a perfectly balanced white glaze and a perfectly adjusted decorating color. The former is done by the glaze maker and the latter is in the hands of the decorator, who must pay attention daily to the balance of the decorating colors. A talented decorator will develop an intuitive awareness through practice, but it is always about the relationship between the glaze and the decorating color.  


All this goes as an example to slip-casters as to why the cast which is too think should be thrown out, to give a fair chance that a masterful decorative execution will be matched with a perfectly cast form. The whole is in the teamwork.

This bowl is signed on the bottom with a scripted AD, indicating that it was probably a production work rather than a prototype. This is not certain as I am not certain that the distinction between the signing of a prototype versus the signing of a production work was paid a lot of attention, but it should be in the future.



The bowl is shown in the picture below with another bowl, also decorated by Brenda. The second bowl is a better cast. The decoration is charming with exuberance, despite the leaves not being as crisp as the leaves are in this bowl. 




The bowl on the right is cast to a perfect thinness. There is room for it to go even thinner but it is fine at this thickness and adds strength against breakage without making the bowl heavy in weight.

This bowl is decorated by Brenda. It is signed on the bottom in an unusual way. with the name ANDERSEN DESIGN written out in capital letters. This suggests that it might have been created during the prototype process, but that is not certain.





Monday, May 13, 2019

Patterns in Stoneware Penguins and Trees

In my last post I began a discussion about how one identifies the author of a piece, pointing out the importance of the signature but that the signature can also be misleading. The true signature is in the hand of the artist which is as unique as handwriting. This One of a Kind Vintage Emperor Penguin was created when the decoration for the production design was under development. The overall uniformity of the pattern is one of the keys to identifying that the penguin is decorated by Weston and not by Brenda.

https://store13231446.ecwid.com/One-of-a-Kind-Vintage-Jar-Vase-decorated-by-Weston-Neil-Andersen-p137192786
Weston's hand is patient, disciplined and rhythmic. The pattern is systematic but not mechanically uniform. Weston takes a philosopher's approach to pattern. The components of the pattern are integral to an inseparable expression of wholeness. The state of mind is at one with the beingness of existence. Weston patientently executes the teardrops in an organically flowing rhythm on the backside of the Emperor Penguin. A similar approach to pattern is shown in the vase, by Weston, to the left. The parts are irregular dabs in an organically organized formation which produces an overall effect which appears deceptively as regularity, like life


Brenda's approach to pattern is as a narrative, While Weston's approach might be compared to that of the drummer, Brenda is the dancer who lays a linear story line over the background of the beat, one might say, a beatnik pattern maker, as the artists culture was called in her day.

Brenda is likely the creator of the tree pattern. Trees all tell a story of life, responsive to the rain, wind, sun, moon and stars, causing their branches to reach out in a way unique to each individual tree. The philosopher focuses on beingness while the narrator tells the events of an individual journey through time


My own childhood artwork can be identified by the wreaths I placed around the  characters. This is how I envisioned the world in my first philosophical conceptualization, as I sat, at the age of five, in the midst of an unmowed grassy field, most likely the first summer that we lived in Maine. I thought about myself as a circle, and my family as a larger circle, and the other people in the world as an even a larger circle.The whole world was the largest circle but it could blow itself up. That didn't make sense and ruined the whole concept. I had going in my head.


If the figure in the center looks dismayed, that is why. That's my generation, the first generation born into a world which could blow itself up. We had to practice hiding under our desks but we knew it was much worse than that. Other generations have since been born into the same world but the way of dealing with it changed and children in sub primary class no longer have to practice hiding under desks preparing for an atomic bomb attack. Now they have to prepare for other kinds of attacks coming from their most immediate circle,

My narration went off pattern, when I leaped from the immediate to the far, The atom, or that non-thing that we call atoms, takes a quantum leap when it goes from one orbit to the next. It doesn't happen in conventionalized time and space. Within the nucleus within the nucleus within the nucleus, there is only consciousness.

That takes us deep into the process of creation, the essence of what makes us human. The process of creating a pattern is a process of consciousness, Creating a pattern is a state of being like chopping wood and carrying water and dancing around the room to the beat because there is no one to stop you from doing so in your own studio, and why small studios are in the Andersen Design master plan.




The eyes of the Emperor Penguin repeat the tear drops in stark black and white. Gray claws grip the base like a pronouncement of creaturehood. The sculpture has the mildly rough surface of a freshly sculpted piece cast in its first mold and the beat goes on.