Thursday 1 May 2014

Getting Inspired: Beach Finds

Pretty Pink Vases - with Glazing Tests
Sometimes I forget how spoilt I am living by the sea. My nearest beach is only a mile away and takes 15 or 20 minutes to walk there. Strangely this 'in between' distance (close but not really close...) feels far enough away to be more than 'just popping down to the beach' and requires at least an hour out of the day and a nice hot thermos of tea to properly appreciate. For this reason I probably don't pop down as often as I'd like to. But when I do go I usually find something to inspire me.

Getting inspiration from the seaside is nothing new of course. Artists are always doing it. And there can be a danger in just repeating what everyone else is doing. So when I look for things to inspire me, I try to look for the 'not-so-obvious'. 

My local beach is mostly shingle, and leans towards the 'small seaside-town/polite walk along the esplanade' side of things rather than remote and windy wilds. Nevertheless, even in a tiny narrow strip of civilised beach there's plenty of little pebbles, shells, driftwood and other shore finds to poke a warm boot at.

Pink Vase Detail - Seaweed and Shells
My latest vases are inspired by a choice of three colours found on my local beach. Pink isn't an obvious colour when you think of the seaside, but there's actually quite a lot of it on my beach. There's plenty of subtle shades of pink in the local shells: these look like a type of sea snail and range from the usual coral shades to unexpected deep maroons. Even some of the grey pebbles have a warm pink tone to them. But most of all there's lots of vibrant pinks and purples in the local seaweed which - once you start looking - pops up everywhere in little clusters. These can look like little pink flowers on the sand or miniature trees draped over the stones.

White is perhaps a more obvious colour to choose. White for the surf, white for the smooth insides of shells and white for chalk pebbles and clouds.

The last colour I chose was the beautiful pale frosted green found in sea-glass. I quite like the idea that pieces of sea-glass are ordinary manmade objects made beautiful by the sea: that being rolled around in the shingle and the waves for years gives them a quality that sets them apart. Part natural, part manmade. And of course being fragments of glass means they fit nicely with the idea of glazing on pots.

Sea-glass and Overlapping Edges
Once I had my three colours - pink, white and pale green - all I had to do was combine them in a design that complemented each other. I chose glaze recipes that were similar in tone (pale) and in texture (glossy and semi-opaque). This allowed them to work with each other as a range, as well as with my existing white glaze - a satin matte. 

I knew even when I was standing on the beach that I would be overlapping the pink and green glazes with the white: just at the edge where they meet. This always gives a small band of extra interest in glazing and fits perfectly with the idea of the shoreline. And then in terms of the form of the vases themselves, well that was easy: it came from the opposite shoreline...

The Other Shore

My new vases, both the Pale Pink and Sea-glass Green, are available for sale in my Folksy and Etsy shops.