Crust to Cup: Transforming Raw Materials into Ceramic Art
Advisor: Ron Geibel, Assistant Professor of Art
Almost all ceramic glazes are made from the same things: rocks and minerals. Some of the earliest glazes were a rough mixture of clay and limestone or powdered sea shells applied to pots that melted into a glassy surface in the heat of the kiln. Today, we refine what we unearth. Through physical and chemical processes, we eliminate impurities and try to extract the compounds we want: silica, zirconium, copper, etc. This project returns to a preindustrial glazing method by purchasing semi-precious rocks and minerals, processing them into a powder form, and using them to glaze ceramic objects.
Thus, the project attempts to address the materiality of the glazing process and ceramics— and by extension all human endeavors which extract mineral resources from the planet— through a direct reference to the materials used. It celebrates the natural forces that make each rock uniquely complex and explores the social and cultural factors surrounding these resources which are often hidden by their commercialization. The goal is that people who interact with the final work have a greater appreciation for the beauty of nature’s fecundity and are more aware of how everyday objects have a material history that should not be ignored.