Monday, October 17, 2016

there's beauty in recycling

Return tree sculpture on show at Centre Court in Market Mall, Calgary, Alberta. October 17 - 23, 2016.

Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation's (ABCRC) new sculpture celebrating the beauty of recycling has just been unveiled...
Sheri and Angela from ABCRC with a tired but happy Cory and Jeff, and Return - a tree sculpture
decorated with materials from pop cans and bottles, milk cartons, juice tins, and every kind of
recyclable beverage container that can be returned to depots in Alberta.

Recycled containers grow
into Alberta flora
Jeff de Boer, Cory Barkman, and I were invited to create an artwork that could help reinforce the beauty and value that comes from recycling beverage containers. Our challenge was to re-use containers from the bottle depot as key components of the piece, transforming the materials into something new.

Project lead and maker extraordinaire Cory Barkman proposed a tree to capture the vision: "So many Albertan's recycle, and the hand makes it clear that by our direct involvement in recycling we are consciously taking responsibility for how we use the earth's resources". The tree is supported by a human hand, and Cory added "The hand shows that such life and beauty is a precious thing to be cared for, and recycling is a way to say 'Thanks, we like it here and want to stay longer'". Trees also live very much longer than people, and Cory concluded that "As this beauty takes root within us, our actions begin to bear fruit and the tree branches become far reaching both to the earth, and to those who live on it".

Foliage, fruit, and flowers decorating the tree were my challenge. I drew inspiration from Alberta flora, with poplar-shaped leaves, and species of violet, forget-me-not, heather, daisy, and, of course, our Alberta provincial flower - the wild rose. There are many coloured berries, and larger fruits—our domesticated apples, pears, and grapes—all made from recycled pop, juice, and milk containers and lids.

Jeff de Boer worked closely on the tree with Cory and I and - as always - solved so many problems, made so many parts, and made the project happen (whilst finishing up his herd of gorgeous sculptures in the new international terminal at Calgary International Airport). Building connections between people, as well as helping to build their skills, has always been integral to Jeff's artistic practice, it is part of how he chooses to build art.

The tree sculpture has new and recycled materials, and we hope it will be enjoyed for many years. Eventually, all materials are returned for re-use or will be recycled - including the artists! The tree is a reminder that everything we use is just a part of a much larger life-cycle, and it is our choice to reduce, re-use, recycle, and finally, to return.

Links and more resources:
1.  The Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation commissioned this artwork as part of a larger campaign - The Beauty Of Recycling - to raise awareness of the value in returning beverage containers. You get your deposit back, and the materials get re-used to make new things. See more details at

2. Alberta Depot gave artists the theme of "Alberta flora" to inspire our designs. The Return tree leaves are shaped like those on our local poplars. I consulted this excellent manual to learn more about Alberta trees, shrubs and wild-fruits: Guide to the Common Native Trees and Shrubs Of Alberta by Inkpen and Van Eyk, Published by The Government Of Alberta.

All of the flowers under the tree are based on the colours and forms of Alberta wild-flower species, though they are obviously not to scale ;)  The reference used for flower details is Wildflowers Of The Canadian Rockies by George Scotter and Halle Flygare.

3. Links to the Return tree artists:
Cory Barkman - see amazing pieces of furniture, lamps, interior artwork and - of course - robots at  Find Cory on Facebook.
Jeff de Boer - internationally collected artist, public art and art community builder, famous for armour for cats and mice. See pictures at  Find Jeff on Facebook.
Christine Pedersen - thanks for checking out my blog, I'm on Facebook too.

4. If you're out and about in Alberta, you have probably also seen gorgeous recycled metal flowers and foliage featured on posters all over the province. These artworks were made for Alberta Depot by Calgary artist Sasha Foster.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

get ahead!

Really looking forward to teaching this course - you can register through the website here.

This is a relatively short course with four 2-hour evening classes to make your sculpture, after which your piece will dry, and then be fired for you. During the final 2-hour class, you will decide whether to use paint or glaze to decorate your finished sculpture.

This course is for anyone who would like to sculpt with potter’s clay. We will provide materials and instruction to get everyone successfully working with clay. For those with some clay experience, I will help you develop your composition and build character into your piece.

The course is focused on the horse, but your “look” can be as literal or abstract as you wish, and you will make your piece as simple or challenging as you want in the time available.

I will cover all the important techniques for hand-sculpting forms in clay in the fun and stimulating environment of the artist’s studio upstairs at the Okotoks Art Gallery. You might be surprised at just how much beautiful art is being made up there! ;)

Background: why a horse-head?
Our subject matter - making a horse head study - was chosen because lots of grown-ups asked if they could have a class of their own after a very successful children’s horse-sculpting course at Okotoks Art Gallery.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

starting at the end

I am just starting out on a major new project. It will consume the next 6 weeks of my life. Immersed in the design stage, I already feel the pull of The Resolution, the conclusion of it all because I - we - can see the finished thing: there is a drawing, materials have been selected. The endless chatter from design and detail and process has started, and sleep is broken.

PROJECT PICTURES? EMBARGOED FOR NOW… That doesn’t matter, this is all about the emotions of making stuff, less about the stuff itself.

There is a cute meme that floats about on social media, regarding the artist’s relationship with a piece of work over the course of making it. In short, feelings go nuts and change a LOT, and it’s OK to stop reading now.

Or… Come on the journey. 

I’m talking mainly about creating something new, possibly unknown to me, maybe completely out of my comfort zone—lots of different processes all needed at once, or maybe I just don’t yet have full mastery of a particular skill. 

There are a lot of problems to solve in order to make something new—I think that’s part of the attraction, and definitely part of the reason I (we) end up on a massive emotions-rollercoaster (and possibly an unwelcome voyage of self-discovery). 

The makers flow has a dynamic all of its own. For me, it seems to go something like this:

1. This is going to be awesome, I am going to love making this!
2. Wait… I need to design more.
3. Can I actually do this?
4. I think this might suck.
5. I’m sure I have been working on this for too long…
6. Not sure if this still sucks and I am working really, really hard trying to make it suck less.
7. Hang on, I like how that bit looks.
8. Wow, this really could be awesome…

Commissions seem to be no more affected by this than new things I am trying to make for myself. In fact, commissions may be easier because at least there is a shared vision for that special something. Of course I really want the person to love their piece—I pour heart and soul into the job and it will definitely be couture, Made By Me, in the end. But on the maker-journey that series of steps often seems to spread out and loop over… Until I reach The End:

9. This really needs to be finished. How do I know that it’s done?

Sure I’ve designed and laid out material specs, and I can almost reach out and touch the piece in my mind, but there is this intangible quality to constantly asking yourself as you work whether every detail has been developed appropriately, congruently… Enough. Has all that process resolved—finally—into The Thing?

I’m at the top of the ride. Sitting in the little car, at the apex, no breeze.
Hold on…

10. What did I just make?

I’m not always able to understand what I have made, even if it looks just like the design.

When I talk about this with other makers and performers (including some very senior and established artists) they report many of these same feelings, except they seem to experience more evenness or “flow” in the process. Or, some say, they get a lot better at hiding their own feelings so that they can guide the team through their sucky bits and complete the trip.

But some things seem common: if you or I are going to make and challenge ourselves to get better then it’s going to be hard, it will feel strange, and we will travel on the make-and-doubt emotions-rollercoaster a lot.

I have noticed the stages in the roller-coaster journey emerging over time, my life-time, as a maker. And somewhere in there, I also started to sense that those sucky steps might provide information, some cue for my sensory skills that could guide my hands as I make, working towards that finished thing.

Practical tips:
I often resort to the camera - I act as if I am documenting process or a finished piece right from the start. I really scrutinize all the angles - it’s very helpful to have that dispassionate lens provide a different perspective. And it gives me a way to ask for feedback.

Sometimes I will just put the piece away and ignore it for a few days so that I can surprise myself all over again, it’s about learning to see differently over time.

And maybe I will phone a friend to talk over whichever step I’m on… And they phone me too—it feels great to help someone else with a “this sucks!” moment. And maybe to hear that we’re not alone on the rollercoaster.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

pinch - seriously! (part 1 of many)

Great to see Monday morning’s Ceramic Arts Daily post, featuring Emily Schroeder-Willis hand-building—pinching—a lovely full-bellied pitcher.

I really admire Emily's work, and as a larger-scale pincher myself, I am super-happy to see this fundamental technique receive more profile. A quick on-line search for the earliest clay pots around the world - Chinese, Jomon, Anglo-saxon, iron or bronze age - gives us pots that range from the ceremonial to the sublimely beautiful, a process in which humanity declared a relationship between form and function, and built joy via beauty. Because hand-building can do it all. 

Little to large... Everyday hand-built pots on my kitchen counter. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

From a making perspective: I like to mix up the methods.

Developing our design ideas is fundamental to building variety and refinement in our finished forms, and any technique requires dedication and an investment of time for us to become really skilled at it. So it seems that it is the process of exploring any and all techniques that will allow us to develop our very own "clay-idiolect”—a language or personality in the way we use technique. 

Fundamentally, pinching tells us how clay feels, and we learn to use and adjust the relationship with water in the body to get the results we want. And we find out what fingers can do versus other tools. I prefer to teach all the basic forming ideas - pinch, elbow pot, coil and small slab, and blur the divisions, moving between techniques on the way to achieving similar small forms, so that the properties of the clay—and its needs—are always at the centre of the journey. And what a journey! :)

References - enjoy images on-line and explore our clay culture with a good book. Here's a couple of links to my on-line reviews (links are to, also on Amazon):
1. Freestone, I., & Gaimster, D. R. M. (1997). Pottery in the making: Ceramic traditions. Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press.
2. Cooper, E. (2010). Ten Thousand Years of Pottery. London: British Museum.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

heads up

View the registration page for the Equine Clay Sculpting course, fall 2016, presented by the Town of Okotoks, Alberta. Instructor - yours truly! Registration opens August 11, 2016.

New horse head studies now on show at Bluerock Gallery, Black Diamond, Alberta. Meet Battle - a pony with attitude.

Battle. Equine head study. Hand-built, stoneware, glazed. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

I have been invited to teach a clay horse-head sculpting class this fall at Okotoks Art Gallery, Alberta. Part of my journey is to design a format that will encourage students to get into creating assertively, successfully, within the time limits of the class. I want the students to enjoy the clay material, to really work it, to learn to build attitude. 

This invitation set me off sculpting horse-heads, looking for new ways, new styles—and a rogues gallery appeared over a month… It is incredibly inspiring and stimulating to mess with my own ways of making, to look for other and different.

Teaching truly does help you learn about yourself, as a maker. I hope I can help my students grab onto that Battle attitude, and build something that their heart understands, but their hands might not yet know how to make. It's going to be a lot of fun learning.

A note on my inspiration for Battle: Cycladic art. Strong, minimalist forms, "in the white".

Monday, July 11, 2016

part of the herd

New work on its way to Bluerock Gallery for Meet The Herd, this weekend July 16 and 17, 2016. Follow this link for full event details. Hope to see you there :)

Untitled #1. Chased and repousséd biomorphic form. Oxidized aluminium. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

I make what I love—way to start a Monday! It’s a really great feeling that I can walk into my office (aka the basement studio) and love what I do. Now that doesn’t mean it’s easy… I spend a fair bit of time hugging a mug of tea and staring at things ;) And it really takes time, that wondering how to do them—I know what I want—but I’ve got to figure out the how, and what materials, and which techniques will get me there.

I sketch a lot. All sorts of designs… The process of making becomes what my brain says is interesting, it is what “we"—the head, hands and heart of me—will do. All to say that I have a very wide variety of inspirations, and the biggest joy is going where they take me.

This is the first piece I have ever called “Untitled”. I had a feeling about how it should look, and this time it was in metal, rather than the porcelain I often use for sculpting. It was a complicated process getting to finished - and a lot of fun. And this is a key part of the rhythm of making: during the process, the next 3 in the series emerged, hand and brain designed them as I was chasing this one. Can’t wait to get started.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

come meet the herd!

I will be riding off to Bluerock to join sculptor Kindrie Grove, painter Jennifer Mack, metal artist Simon Wroot, and equine jewellery maker Simone Schlichting to present “Meet The Herd!” at Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta. We will be presenting equine art and artist demos over the weekend of July 16 and 17, 2016. Full details here:

I love making equine-inspired art but it is usually a fairly private obsession as I mainly create commissions in clay - I will have new clay horse pieces, and chased metal pictures available.

There will also be new ceramic work for Bluerock - large porcelain platters, small vases and covered jars, some porcelain sculpture, and a few bright bowls to gladden hearts and tables. Pieces are all hand-built and finished by me at my home studio—it takes a long time to make and fire the work, and I am now starting to build an inventory of my favourite forms alongside my vases at Bluerock.

I won’t be popular for saying this in July, but fingers crossed for cooler weather to get lots more fired in time! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

thanks for all the fish

It already feels like ages ago but Rainbow Trout has only been up since June 1, and the “Making Of…” video is now ready to share - hope you enjoy it.

I think it is fair to state that all makers will understand the challenges of the average day in the studio: we design/make/fix/modify tools all the time—and we learn to accept that is really the entry level of committing to a life of making original work—it’s all about problem solving. And the bigger the work, the bigger and more costly the problems!

But that’s where a talented team really shines - I was second camera on this project and it was a privilege to watch the many highly skilled professionals who contributed to building Rainbow Trout. As Jeff notes in the video, we won’t always be able to say what we mean clearly to someone else, and there will inevitably be different solutions to the same problem… It’s how we remedy our problems, in this case with humour and grace, that really sets the tone for success.

Thank you to everyone who allowed us to point cameras at them - without you there would be no video.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

everyday heirlooms

I like to think - hope - that the work I make will last. Certainly metal and clay have a habit of being highly durable, but what I really mean is that I hope that when someone commissions a piece of hand-made work they are creating something for themselves, for life. 

I recently had the pleasure of making this new 14k wedding band for a 30th anniversary—updating a slim traditional band to become a commemorative token in the client’s preferred personal style. The band is engraved with her wedding date, and my chop. My client commissioned her very own everyday heirloom.

Ladies 14k yellow gold textured wedding band, engraved with date and artist's chop. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

And what of future generations? Original artwork is likely to live on with them. That feels good.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

how to make an entrance

Jeff de Boer’s latest public art sculpture, “Rainbow Trout”, was officially launched to the media June 1, 2016. However, if you’re 21 feet tall, made of glowing stainless steel, and have brightly coloured body segments that light up at night you’re more than likely to get noticed as soon as you join the neighbourhood!

Jeff de Boer introduces "Rainbow Trout" at the media launch, June 1, 2016. Enmax Park, Calgary.

Rainbow Trout is prominently sited above the banks of the lovely Elbow River at Calgary Foundation Crossing. This is the entrance to the new Enmax public park in Ramsay, Calgary, where, to quote Calgary Foundation Board Member Patti Pon, “the beauty of art, nature, and the spirit of our people intersect”. The sculpture greets park and path users, and they can wander through the bright steel pipes bursting from the sidewalk.

Nathan and Lora Armstrong inspect the finished sculpture - Nathan was part of the design team.

Jeff stressed that “I can’t build this, we can” in honouring his highly skilled Calgary team who built the project with him, and that it takes “a very special sequence of events to allow a project like this to happen” because of everything that is needed. “First you need a beautiful site” and with tongue in cheek “an enlightened jury!” to select the project. Jeff noted the Calgary Stampede Public Art Committee’s vision for the location—they encouraged him to augment his original design for a Rainbow Trout sculpture, a much older design that he had submitted as part of his portfolio—rather than build the newer idea that got him short-listed for the job. Jeff noted that most importantly it needed the project-appropriate budget to give him the opportunity to fully realize his design, because it allowed him to build the sculpture in a better way than he had ever hoped it could be.

It has been fabulous to be part of this project, documenting the building of this sculpture—back-stage in Jeff’s studio as he built the trout body, and then at the amazing—read HUGE—fabrication shop needed to build the stainless steel waves. So many talented people needed to make a Beautiful Meaningful Thing… Much more to come on that idea, and a feature length “making of” video to follow.

Meet the artist - join Jeff at the site on Saturday June 4, 2016, 1-4pm. North entrance to Stampede Park, Enmax Park, by the MacDonald Bridge on the east side of the Elbow river. Everyone welcome.

See links for news stories about Rainbow Trout:
TV interview for CBC
Radio interview with Jenny Howe for CBC
Calgary Herald story
A quick glimpse behind the scenes - building the sculpture
Posts by the Calgary Stampede Public Art Committee on their facebook page


Sunday, May 1, 2016

colour outside the lines, I dare you.

I grew up obsessed with painting and colouring in. And I still have the small tin of Caran d’Ache coloured pencils my gran bought me when I was about 11 - just a dozen colours, but so rich, so lovely. So precious. I purposefully kept them for “best” (which is probably why I still have them 40 years later) whilst having worn out countless hordes of cheap ones, and handfuls of drawing pencils.


Looking back, I think that response was a teensy bit strange… Why didn’t I just burn through and enjoy them?
No money…Worried I’d never see their like again?
Maybe I didn’t think what I drew was worthy of them?
I do remember that I couldn’t bear to wear them out.
And that I was very unhappy if I couldn’t keep paint or colour inside the lines.

Go on, let go of the lines... Colour wherever you like! You know you want to. Picture and photo: Christine Pedersen. 2016.

I was recently directed to this TED article  examining the value of the colouring-in trend, and asked for comment. I set my mind to “curious” because, being a working artist and erstwhile scientist, if some people are enjoying/employed creating drawings—that's their art—and still other people enjoy colouring the pictures in—THEIR art—then what should get between them?

My researcher spidey-senses are always on alert for the hyped-up, feel-good, and phoney… But after reading the article I was thrilled to report back that—in an evidence-based nutshell—colouring-in is good for us. Well colour me tickled pink.

Fortunately a grown-up salary and a generalized art material obsession got me a massive tin of the lust-worthy Caran D’Ache. So. Many. Colours. Water-colour pencils—they draw and paint, they get sharpened often and need really tough paper (like Arches) so that I can push the wet and dry colour layers to the physical limits the paper can endure.

And there are no more lines. I realized I didn’t like being inside them any more than my younger self dis-liked going over them. Sod the lines, they just get in the way of the colour. 

Smiles to self: happy to colour outside of the lines.

I realize that first tin of coloured pencils has morphed into something else: a precious link to my nan, and I'll probably never wear them out. But I do use them occasionally, just to feel like that kid again.

1. I’ve been trying to find the range of historical costume books that I loved so much… This looks very much like the ones I used to save up my pocket money for:

2. What brand of pencils is “best”? I have no idea. I love my pencils, and my grown-up heart tries to walk gently with my so-eager-to-please younger self, and I'm really quite brand loyal:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

chasing stories

This post is about the making of Fluvius Visum, a hand-chased brass panel, and the process of dreaming up its narrative content.

I like house-names, they have character. After a quick flirt with Google translate, our family house-name - River View - became the more house-age-appropriate Fluvius Visum. I enjoy the heft and assumed dignity of the (probably wrong) latin translation—it immediately felt more in keeping with the contemporary-medieval design style that I was about to invent as I drew the picture for this chasing study… Somehow the latin provided an anchor for a brass panel that would be laden with narrative and heraldic symbolism.

The form of personal coats of arms follows a strict code (1), and there is overlap with the common historical usage of symbols used to create town arms etc. My research to date suggests there is no undisputed go-to directory for the meanings of heraldic symbols (2), and symbols like “holly” or “horse” have likely acquired unofficial, colloquial meanings in art. So I utilized a mix of known and made-up devices to layer meaning within the picture, representing our life next to a tidal river prone to flooding, and honouring the people in my family.

The sense of identity and place are established using design elements from the town seal of 1732 (3). This places Fluvius Visum firmly in the ancient Cornish town of Lostwithiel (chartered in 1189), overlooked by Restormel Castle, with thistles for the heath, and salmon in the River Fowey.

The 13th/14th century church of St Bartholomew’s (4) has presided over our family births, marriages, and deaths, and two of the stone font reliefs appear in the picture: a ‘lucky’ fool (upper left corner), and disgorging green man (lower left corner).

From the common usage of heraldic symbols, holly is used to symbolise truth (5) and the horse is a defender or protector, ready to serve. Horses are an enduring love for many in my family.

There are additional features and made-up symbolism to represent life, place, and people: Lostwithiel bridge and the River Fowey topping its banks at spring tide (as it did this morning); a rope border as a footnote to Lostwithiel’s ancient role as a Stannary town and a port for Cornish tin; vigilant eyes watch the weather and the river (and nod to the nearby restored Black Prince’s summer palace, also known as The Guildhall or Stannary Palace, and until recently a meeting place for Freemasons); Duchy woods spread out to the north and east - with a dead tree for those who have gone before; lily of the valley and bluebells, a spanner, the main-line rail tracks connecting Lostwithiel to London… And the A390 weaving down through the hills, into the town, over the river, and far, far away.

Fluvius Visum - detail: St Bartholomew's church Lostwithiel, the 12th century bridge,
"thistles for the heath", holly, a horse, and the road, river, and railway tracks.
Christine Pedersen. 2014.

I am no longer surprised that when I listen to other people’s memories I start to imagine pictures—it’s probably something primal—a way of enjoying the richness of emotions and concrete experiences that we all share. Sometimes a horse is just a horse. But for those who know us, the connections are all in there: home, life, and place inextricably linked together. I hope family and friends will find joy reading this picture.

Fluvius Visum - detail: rope border, the dis-gorging green man, and an eye on the weather...
Two fish in the river. lily of the valley, bluebells, and a spanner.
Christine Pedersen. 2014.

Wherever I am, you are always with me - with love to my family xxx

Technical info on the chased panel: 
8 inch square annealed 16 gauge brass sheet, chased with hand-made tools and chasing hammer, finished with a liver of sulphur patina and beeswax. Mounted in custom hand-made half-lap alder frame, finished with milk paint and beeswax.

Links for further reading...

1. This Wikipedia page is an excellent place to start : ; provides a clear description of the formation of coats of arms, and the rules on who has the right to bear them.

2. This very thorough open text (written in 1909) provides the science of heraldic development and symbols used, but would never stoop to offer colloquial meanings… This is serious business.

3. The 1732 seal of Lostwithiel is also the current seal, as used on the town’s Wikipedia page

4. Web page with details of St Bartholomew’s church's_Church,_Lostwithiel    Search also for “St Bartholomew’s font” images.

5. Horses and holly… Colloquial meanings for heraldic symbols can be found here:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

art is bother, so is repairing things. live long and repair!

“Sorry it was so much bother”
“Don’t worry about it, everything I do is bother!”
I like to bother about stuff, that’s my day-job: dream, design, then make. Hundreds of small steps and details to bother about, on the way to something new. Along the way, I repair a lot of my own stuff.

My friend and neighbour is a:
“Please look after my dog”
“Who wants cake and mojito’s?”
- kind of neighbour.
And he broke a favourite belt.

It wasn’t expensive, but it is quite lovely: supple, dark Italian leather, with a cast buckle that delivered all the strain of bending over after a big dinner onto a tiny plate of who-knows-what cast metal that is - was - less than 1mm thick. Poor design.

Why not just buy another belt? Maybe he should have—but it’s the principle… We can mend things, and I could share a little happiness by drilling two holes and swinging a hammer to set 2 fat new rivets through a serious piece of scrap brass—that belt now has 5.7mm of quality metal to take the strain. A quick lick of sand-paper and the belt is ready to party again; I happily succumbed to that intrinsically human need to repair*, and enjoy material until it has truly exhausted it’s lifetime.
Rivets save the day, and the belt. Gotta love a rivet.
Someone undoubtedly has a PhD in understanding this need to bother—and of course art and craft go way beyond function (although this unusual request is now very functional again!).

*repair. The creative in me wants to know why we have let go of repair... Why don't we say "reduce, re-use, repair"? And then - and only then - when it's completely exhausted... recycle? Who agreed that so much poor design and built-in obsolescence was OK? Can we really afford it in the very largest sense?

I'd love to research that (and archeology), because it feels like we have given something up, and I don't know that we ever actually agreed to it. But right now I don't have time (ah, there's the rub...) because I’m already bothering about my next piece of artwork, and that's much, much trickier than this was...

Live long and repair!
If you want some help to try this belt-buckle repair for yourself, please read on to see the rear view of the buckle, and get a very quick description of how to...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

jewellery meets lego

Jeff de Boer and his apprentice Dylan Puddu have been developing the Gearing collection for a while now, and in 2015, they finally invited me to start playing in the toy-box with them! I must have hinted loudly enough at how cool I think the Gearing components really are… We have lots of plans and new work to come, with one of a kind and stone-set pieces. 

Please contact Jeff if you would like to know more.

Armét-Haus Gearing components become cufflinks... Set with rhodolite garnets.
Custom design by Christine Pedersen.

Armét-Haus Gearing pendant: Jeff de Boer and Dylan Puddu.

Avenue Magazine published a neat article on Jeff's studio and the (slightly over-whelming!) range of projects that he is working on at any one time :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

well organised dirt

Raw porcelain vases, drying. Or, as I like to think of them: well organized dirt. 

I love seeing clay work at the raw stage… There’s an intensity in seeing all the forms together, and because I tend to make a variety of shapes and sizes, it feels like a crowd - like a group shot of people: they are individuals, somehow uniform, and different. 

Freshly pinched porcelain vases: bases levelled, signed, and slowly drying ahead of their first trip through the kiln.
3.5 - 8.5 inches tall. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

Lining the pieces up for a picture has a habit of making one of them stand out - like seeing a group photo where you only know one of the people. I’m not entirely sure how consciously that happens, but it definitely adds to the fascination of taking the pictures, and it’s part of getting to know the characters before I have to say goodbye.

This group of vases are small and medium sized, and will hopefully be joining their friends at Bluerock Gallery in April.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

be mine

For Valentine’s… #15 looking, dare I say, hot! Pulsing with colour and promise.

You can find a wide selection of my vases - from the petite and curvaceous, to the tall, brooding, and handsome at Bluerock Gallery, Black Diamond, Alberta, Canada. Bluerock will ship, or there is a lovely florist nearby if you're local.

"#15: Be Mine" pinched porcelain vase, with “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange and Red Slurpee” glazes. 21 cm tall.
Christine Pedersen. 2015. #canadianceramics #spreadtheword

Loving these tulips.

The hashtags I am adding #canadianceramics #spreadtheword come from a new Canadian Ceramics web-site makeanddo - the site is building a directory of Canadian clay artists, offers guest artist features, and the work of a core group of fabulous Canadian contemporary clay artists. Pop over and see!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

will you...?

Artists write stories about their work all the time, and the greatest joy is when that story becomes important to another person. 

This project was about creating a piece of fan-art for a client (DP) based on their love of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter stories. DP approached Jeff de Boer because he needed to commission a very special golden snitch sculpture: the body would become an opening engagement ring-box. DP had a very special proposal in mind, and the snitch was to play a key part.

Jeff and I do not usually make snitches. Jeff is a renowned metal artist and teacher, famous for creating armour for cats and mice, and collected world-wide. Jeff also has an ever-increasing body of large-scale public art projects (…with lots of news to come in 2016!). His web-site is a magical place, full of stories made real. I am an emerging metal and clay artist whom Jeff is mentoring - particularly in the skills of chasing and repoussé - and these skills were to be at the core of making the snitch. Lucky me.

Jeff and I both love stories—and who could resist being part of someone else's love story? Our challenge was to use our skills to make an heirloom for this young couple: to turn his story of a magical object, invested with his dreams, into a real object for his girl-friend. We knew that this story would be theirs to share with their family and friends, just like the name of the sculpture says, “Always”.

“Always” commission. A “golden snitch” sculpture with an opening ring-box in the body.
Designed and made by Christine Pedersen and Jeff de Boer. 2015.

My thanks to Jeff de Boer for inviting me to make this piece with him.

With thanks to our clients DP and CP - we wish you long life and happiness, always.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

hello you...

I always keep a piece from a new body of work: I need to spend time getting to know it. 

#15 “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange and Red Slurpee” pinched porcelain vase form. Height: 8 inches.
Christine Pedersen. 2015.

And so #15 stayed with us, and I schemed up a delightful challenge for myself: in the name of art—and pictures for my blog—I would fill it with flowers for every opportunity I could make up for a whole year. Sweet.

First up: a lovely (and very modestly priced) bouquet from the supermarket for Christmas 2015. 

#15 “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow: Orange and Red Slurpee” pinched porcelain vase form. Seasonal flowers.
Christine Pedersen. 2015.

I always approach a vase thinking about the overall shape, as something to contemplate in my home, because most of the time it will probably stand empty. But as I make the piece, I end up imagining flowers and how they will fill it: how the stalks reach down to the bottom and push off at an angle; how wide a base needs to be for stability (versus how saucy a narrowing foot looks under a wide form, disappearing into the table top). And what is the right width for the neck so that the stems are supported? All this makes me think about what kind of flowers I might arrange in it, or how many - sometimes a vase needs to be just right for that one daisy fallen across the path (or a lone purple pansy abandoned on the sidewalk - the subject of my first blog post).

The “Orange and Red Slurpee” glaze decoration is new - I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I started the “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” glaze pattern in lime green and bright yellow. Anyone who has visited my home knows that we have a thing for orange and red, they are such fun together—they just make me feel happy.

Next stop: Valentines Day. Bring on the red!

Vases are available from Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

gluten free brownies

It’s January. It’s cold. Comfort foods rule. And we’re on the way to February—still cold—and the first of the chocolate holidays… Perfect time for a tray of brownies.

Gluten free chocolate brownie: topped with dark chocolate ganache fondant icing and dried sour cherries, dusted with icing sugar.
Served on a wood-fired stoneware platter. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

A gluten free friend sent me this brownie recipe back in 2002—and I still have the original email I printed off. The paper looks a bit brown now - not from age - just the accumulated smudges of brownie batter and fondant icing from hundreds of bakings… For I am “She Who Brings The GF Brownies” to neighbourhood functions, a deliverer of dessert to those prowling the buffet table in the hope of a dietarily-appropriate chocolate fix. But, if asked, other guests do not seem to care that the recipe also happens to be gluten free, they’re just scarfing down really good brownies before they all get eaten.

All this makes me ponder the potentially unanswerable: is there such a thing as the “perfect” brownie? Maybe. But perfect for me and perfect for you might be different solutions to the same problem: I found that this recipe is so good for me that I have never sought another.

My friend adapted the recipe in one key way as she wrote it out for me: fondant was originally described as “optional”, to which we both said “Yeah, right!”. I have added my own fondant recipe (thanks mum, again!) because I like it to be seriously chocolatey, and because I like a LOT of fondant.

I wish you good eating, and may this recipe aid in the quest for your perfect brownie.

Please read on for the brownie recipe.