The Origin of "Flight to Clarity"

This piece was a year in the making.  It started as a thought that turned into sketches and finally into a design.

I wanted to challenge myself on a couple of levels.  I needed the creation to be the centerpiece of my show, it had to project movement and above all, it needed to touch the soul, not everyone’s soul,  but the soul that needed it.

It takes a lot of hand textrued tiles to break and use. 

In January I started to make all the background tiles I would need.  Since all my pieces are handmade from clay I’m able to add interesting texture and colors that distinguishes the background setting.  

Next, I hand sculpt the birds, making twice as many as I’ll need in order to pick those that most resemble a flock, giving carful attention to the position of the wings.

Then it’s on to the shaping the tree.  I create a life-sized sketch as a guide.  For this piece I decided to slice the branches in such a way as to accentuate the wind arching the branches, in this way, thinking ahead, the grout would become a design element, playing up the movement.

The beginnings of a flock

After all the major pieces have been modeled, fired, glazed and fired again, (about a 3 week process) I’m almost ready to start.  The only thing missing was the perfect tile to frame the work.  The framing could make or break the piece so it had to be perfect.  For about a week I searched speciality tile stores but couldn’t find what I had in my mind’s eye.  So I turned to the internet and found a lovely Italian glass tile that I could purchase through an importer.  With no time left to order a sample, I crossed my fingers and hoped it would arrive quickly and look as good as it did in the online photos.  

The glass titles arrived 3 days before the show opened but they were divine and well worth pulling a couple of all nighters to build piece in time for the opening.

Found!  The perfect titles to frame the piece

I wanted black grout for the framing tiles and white grout for the interior piece, so I was going to have to work fast but also very, very carefully.  Day One of the affixing process would focus on the setting the frame.  Day Two was all about building the interior of the piece.  Day Three focused on grouting the interior and attaching the hangers.  Finally in the early morning hours of opening day, my daughter loaded the piece into the car and together we hung it on the wall.   It felt really, really good to stand back and look at the piece, know how long it had been in the making, how much it had evolved over the months, and just love it, not just the outcome, but the creative journey.

This piece sold on August 4th to a wonderful couple who feel in love with it and were kind enough to share the personal connection they felt to the artwork....and to ask if they could hug me!  Wow, that was a beautiful experience!  It was a big sale and I was proud of that, but the real payoff was something deeper, something that I’ve heard called “redemptive art” but never truely understood.  I'm feeling gratful and hoping to make such a journey again as I prepare my centerpiece for the winter show.


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