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International paperclay symposium!

Posted by mysculptureclass on February 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM

I had the most amazing experience a few weeks ago...I was a speaker and participant at the international Paperclay Symposium in Laguna Beach!

When I told my teaching colleague that I was invited to speak at the international paperclay symposium in Laguna Beach on February and 7, he laughed. He was surprised that there was enough interest in paperclay to have a symposium, much less an international one.

Within the long history of ceramics, the use of paperclay to create art or functional ware is in its infancy. Experiments in using paperclay to create three dimensional art began in the 70’s. More widespread use of paperclay did not begin until the 90’s and later as Rosette Gault and Graham Hay began to write, teach, and educate others. They found that this gave clay almost magical properties: The ability to add wet clay to dry, dry to dry, and even wet clay to bisque. It created pieces that were shockingly strong when green and allowed works to be fired more quickly and even left raw. The beginning of the paperclay movement is due, almost exclusively to the dedication that these two have had in experimenting, writing, and teaching about this medium.

The Paperclay Today symposium was truly international. Artists arrived from Australia, Wales, Italy, England, Montreal, and of course from all over US. Held in Laguna Beach California, the setting and enthusiasm of the organizer Linda Saville brought all of us here to connect, share, and to be inspired.

I fire my sculptures with large metal spikes embedded in them to strengthen the elongated thin legs. That’s why I use paperclay. In attending this conference, I was amazed at all the other ways this medium can be used to create fine art. For some paperclay is a way to create cutting edge contemporary art installations, for others it is a way to create the thinnest, most delicate and fine porcelain work that I have ever seen. For all us, it is a way to overcome the limitations of regular clay and to allow our own creativity while maintaining the relationship with the medium that we all love best: clay.

Paperclay is under-represented in the world of ceramics. Perhaps it is because of the love for the rich functional tradition of ceramics. Or maybe it is because those who have been trained in traditional ceramics are all too familiar with the disasters that occur when one does not understand what can and cannot be done with clay. Paperclay opens the door to new ways of looking at and thinking about clay. It does not take away from the function or the history; it just adds more possibilities for all of us.

The Paperclay Today Symposium was just a beginning. From lengthy conversations during the symposium, I know that this core group of Paperclay artists is ready to join Rosette and Graham to bring this wonderful medium to the attention of art collectors, artists, museums and galleries around the world. After what I saw last weekend, there is no doubt: it really is time. You can see images form the symposium here.

Categories: sculpting

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2 Comments

Reply Lynne
10:34 PM on February 26, 2010 
WOW!!! Unexpected beauty and creativity. Thank you for the pictures. Inspiring!!
Reply Patricia
12:47 PM on March 27, 2010 
Looking forward to Nov class info!