Learn how this Hawaii native creates various accessories for the home based on vegetables.
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Hawaii native Randy Au has been playing with clay since early childhood, but it wasn’t until a few years after he opened his own studio that he stumbled upon his muse: vegetables. Au creates whimsical and functional tea pots, salt and pepper sets, and other earthenware based on the natural forms of real vegetables.
The whole process starts with prowling the local produce markets for inspirational shapes. Once he has a vegetable he likes, he creates a plaster mold. When the mold is ready for use, he creates the base shape for his vessel by slip casting, a process of pouring watered-down clay into a mold that sucks the water out, allowing the clay to form thinner walls than one can throw by hand. The pieces, when dried, are taken from the molds and put together. Next he adds hand-thrown and pulled elements such as a spout, handle, base, and lid. When the structure is to his liking, the vessel is bisque fired.
Au’s love of the natural shapes of produce is matched by his desire to create unique and striking glaze work. Using a plethora of commercial glazes, he paints different shapes and accents by hand. The piece is fired again for the glaze to set. But he’s not done yet; for that extra shimmer, Au uses gold luster, which contains actual metallic particles, and then fires it for a third time.
After 10 years of experimenting with these organic forms, Au is still finding inspiration in the produce aisle.