Artist Statement Karen Orsillo
With nature’s influence evident throughout my work, I create contemporary functional and non- functional work. Handbuilding with layered colored porcelain unifies my exploration of form, color and pattern. I strive to convey a sense of inquisitiveness through fluid repetition akin to the movement of a swimming fish or the intricate patterns of a flower or a shell, taking my cues from a walk along the ocean or a pause in the garden. Working toward this goal over the years I have developed increasingly complex color combinations and patterns to combine with compatible forms.
My process is a technique often called neriage (nair ee ah ghee) or nerikomi ( nair ee comb ee) from the Japanese tradition, a process akin to murrine in glass making. I am not using glazes but rather putting the color directly into the clay. I begin by wedging colorants into the moist porcelain to create a variety of base colors. I also blend colors to create gradations of colors. These are stacked into a loaf or block which I then cut and reassemble in various ways to create blocks of unique patterns. In some of my patterns there are over 100 layers of color in a block. I use thin slices cut from the cross section of these patterned blocks to form slab built pots which are fired in an electric kiln to cone 8 oxidation (approx. 2300 degrees F). To see photos of me building a patterned block please go to the process page.