Monday, December 21, 2015

almond shortbread

Merry Christmas! Have some rich, dense and creamy gluten free (GF) shortbread—a small (but cunning) gift from me to anyone who is gluten-free or loves someone who is… And if everything goes according to plan, it will mean that lots more people will be able to offer home-baked gluten free goodies when I go round for a visit!

My mum’s shortbread was legendary, not least because it lasted for such a short time once she’d baked it… I have modified her recipe by increasing the usually small amounts of ground almonds and rice flour to completely replace the wheat flour. And I took inspiration from her use of whipping cream to ‘wet’ and bind the dry ingredients, instead of just using water. What an amazing difference—that creamy, fresh flavour I had always loved is right there in the first taste.

See below for recipe.

Gluten free almond, rice four and butter shortbread baked in an unglazed stoneware tray. Diameter 10”, 0.75” deep.
The trays make great pizza too. Christine Pedersen 2015.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

vases are people too

Photographing a group of new pieces is always interesting—getting to know who they are and seeing how they fit together. I had placed 18 porcelain vases on my dining room table ready to take their pictures; after a couple of days of hanging out with them I felt like I was trying to organise the guests in a wedding party… All those colours and heights and styles—lining up, fitting in, and settling the kids down in front. And then there are all the other shots - like the small family group caught in a candid moment, the teenager poignantly standing apart from their parents.

Vases have a very special place in my affections and my need to make (more on this below). Thanks to the Citizen’s of Craft web-site for helping to get the word out that “Vases are people too”. I knew I wasn’t alone :)

The vases are available from the excellent Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta.
The Family Photo 2015 - Probably Unrepeatable.
Porcelain vases, tallest is 11 inches. Christine Pedersen. 2015.

The Teenager, With Mum & Dad.
Porcelain vases, translucent glaze inside, unglazed exteriors. Christine Pedersen. 2015.

Vases and me: I love my garden, and I love to walk outside on a fresh morning to cut flowers and arrange them in a vase that I have made. But that’s only part of the story because for most of the year there are no flowers to cut. For most of their lives vases will stand empty.

I find that vases have a habit of moving into a spot and expressing themselves. Light falls around them, they cast shadows, their outline changes the dynamic of a space. I place them based on their size and feeling: a smallish narrow-necked vase on the shelf in front of me near the sink (one of the ‘kids’), it only takes a few stems or a handful of herbs to occupy my gaze. A large dignified full-bellied form rests over in a corner, with tall reeds and berried stalks framed by the window behind. An unglazed porcelain vase (like ‘The Teenager’) all pure white, seems to burn in the sunlight or to hold onto the dusk in its deeply textured surface.

Some vases will wait to be discovered—they are quiet and thoughtful, deep rivers; and then there are those that yell “hello!” the moment my eye greets them. I have family and friends like that too.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

don't eat the yellow snow

I have a rule when I make my ceramics: I have to love how the finished piece looks on my dining room table.

This was the first large piece that I glazed in my new glaze style: “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” - it has splashes of bright yellow and lime green glaze on top of a translucent glaze, on high-fired porcelain clay. There is also a funky mix of wood ash, black underglaze, and ash splodges: it captures a snow-bank a few days after a snow-fall - the expanse of white, splashes from the road and bikes and - you can fill in the rest of the inspiration.

Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow. Porcelain walled and footed bowl. Pinched and hand-built form. 4.5” x 8”. Christine Pedersen. 2015.

This glaze style makes me smile... It was hard to let go and take it to Bluerock, and I have a blank space in the middle of my table. Maybe I’ll be able to post a shot of it on the dining room table of its new home.

Monday, December 7, 2015

chasing Bluerock...

First vlog posting ever -  it was a very fun day at Bluerock Gallery on Saturday Dec 5, lots of people, and lots of chasing on metal. Have to admit it was a bit intimidating wielding a hammer inside an art gallery...

Thank you to gallery owner Karen Gimbel and the Bluerock team for the invitation to bust out of my studio for the day. Looking forward to next time!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

west of the Big Rock...

South of Calgary for half an hour, then drive due west—past the Big Rock (1) and fields of rolling prairie foothills—straight towards the Rockies… It’s a lovely drive down to Black Diamond from Calgary.

My first collection of work is now on show at Bluerock Gallery—so proud to be joining the talented artists and friends already there.

Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange & Red Slurpee. Pinched porcelain vase. 17.5 cm/ 7” tall. Christine Pedersen. 2015.

If you’re making the trip, I strongly recommend you set-off early and call into Chinook Meadery, just west of Okotoks. Loads of lovely honey-related products, honeycomb to sample, and a live hive doing actual bee-business right there in the shop.

Top tip: the honey ganache is amazing on bread and cookies, or straight off your finger whilst still sitting in their car-park.

We are working our way into the case of mead we brought back, haven’t drunk them all yet so we can’t elect a champion. So far: six thumbs way up!

(1) To be accurate, the Big Rock is called the Okotoks Erratic:

Friday, December 4, 2015

obsessing in public

obsessive chasing desire: the process in which the metal artist yields to their need to strike one piece of metal with carefully shaped tools for a very, very, long time.

I will be doing a chasing metalwork demonstration at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta, on Saturday December 5, 2015. I will have loads of samples - flat chased pictures, works in progress - and a very special holly sprig that I have been working on for over 90 hours…

Look forward to seeing you there.

“Run”. Brass portrait study. Chasing and repoussé. 14.5 x 9 x 3 cms. Christine Pedersen. 2014.

Chasing’ is the use of tools to create lines or texture marks on the surface of metal, it can be just like drawing. But the artwork can also be made into a three dimensional form by hitting and stretching the metal surface from behind—‘repoussé’—to sculpt relief, or volume, into the metal surface.

The Statue of Liberty is probably the most famous repousséd object in the world - it’s also an awful lot bigger than my work!

"Run"- this portrait study was made from brass sheet metal: it started out flat, 0.8mm thick. See more of my chasing work here.