Leaf Imprint Vessels
Artist Ellen Freeman has a garden close by to supply the raw material for her vases.
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Ellen Freeman met her husband, got married and moved to the U.S. from Holland in 1961. Over time, she had three kids and eventually a friend dragged her to a ceramics class. After two lessons, she was hooked; she began working out of her garage until that space became too small.
She now works out of a rented studio space in west Los Angeles, where she makes her stunningly realistic leaf imprint vessels. Outside of her space is a small garden where she has planted the sources for her current artwork. The different kinds of plants supply her with the materials she uses to make the fossil-like leaf impressions on her beautiful vases.
She begins all of her pieces with a slab of mixed stoneware and porcelain clay sized for the particular vessel she is going to make. Once the proper slab is cut, it is cut into a pattern for the piece. Then the gathered leaves are placed on the slab and, using a rolling pin, they are pressed into the clay. The imprints are then traced again to make sure they are deep enough; they will be the outer decoration for the piece. The vessel is then hand-formed and a bottom piece is added. All seams are pinched together, which creates a very distinctive stitched look.
The piece is fired once to get the clay to the right consistency. Then color is added and immediately wiped off, which tints all of the detailed imprints left by the leaves and in the pinched seams. The inside of the vase is also completely glazed so that it will hold water without leaking. The inner color matches the outer tint to tie the look of the piece together. The piece is fired one more time and the final result is strikingly distinctive to Freeman, with a wonderfully natural feel.
Catherine M. S. Cowles of Pasadena, Calif., makes unique ceramic pieces that combine a number of texture techniques.