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Marie Niehaus' Profile

About

ORIGIN: Barkhamsted, Connecticut
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Graphic Design, NC State College of Design, 2001

Natural forms and cultural symbols continue to provide a foundation of inspiration through different mediums. I have always liked to carve and assemble pieces. I like to make objects that move, surprise, or change with the light. The current products of my busy hands are original monoprints, raku objects, and goat milk soap.

MONOPRINTS:
I create compositions using a technique similar to linoleum or block printing. I carve out the shapes from sketches or found objects (like beach rocks and seed pods); from those I build layers of shapes, tones and colors until I am satisfied with the activity of the colors, that it begins to move, or that it speaks about a specific concept…

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  • Female
  • Born on March 24
  • Joined August 14, 2009

Favorite materials

Ink, rice paper, mulberry paper, stones, silver, gold, clay, leather, goat milk soap, herbs, essential oils, fragrance oils

About

ORIGIN: Barkhamsted, Connecticut
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Graphic Design, NC State College of Design, 2001

Natural forms and cultural symbols continue to provide a foundation of inspiration through different mediums. I have always liked to carve and assemble pieces. I like to make objects that move, surprise, or change with the light. The current products of my busy hands are original monoprints, raku objects, and goat milk soap.

MONOPRINTS:
I create compositions using a technique similar to linoleum or block printing. I carve out the shapes from sketches or found objects (like beach rocks and seed pods); from those I build layers of shapes, tones and colors until I am satisfied with the activity of the colors, that it begins to move, or that it speaks about a specific concept or feeling.

GOAT MILK SOAP:
I decided to create my own recipes while searching for an affordable bath soap solution to the high desert climate here in Denver, Colorado. I started with herbs from my own garden and have held true to a 'simple recipe, good ingredients' approach. I use the 'melt and pour' process, starting with a quality lab tested base and from there I add my own blend of herbs, essential oils and fragrance oils.

RAKU:
I like to mimic and showcase natural elements like crystals, river rocks and leaves that seem to take on a new character when expressed in raku. I also hone a constant curiousity for cultural graphic symbols. I like to bring them along with totems and talismans to my work.

CONCEPTING AND PRODUCTION:
2) I apply my ideas to a slab of porcelain clay. Holding the vision of inspiration, I alter each piece one at a time with a blade.
3) I fire the greenware in my electric kiln in small batches to prepare them for the raku stage.
4) I use horsehair brushes to apply raku glaze in painterly variations, and move on to the Western Raku Firing Process

JEWELRY:
I construct my jewelry using hand fabrication techniques (bending, hammering, twisting gold and silver wire) I fabricate my own clasps, earring wires, and other visual elements as I need them. My goal is to create an idea that a person can comfortably wear that is visually striking and personal and will last for many years.

HOW I USE THE WESTERN RAKU FIRING TECHNIQUE:
This process yields a result that is simply not achievable by commercial means. I really enjoy the expression from other people as they try to figure out just what they are looking at, is it a stone? Why is it smokey? Look, it seems to change color when you turn it in the light! The visual characteristics from this process produce ideal components to be used in art jewelry; unique and alluring.

I have detailed the process I use below, although I have read about many other variations of the Western Raku Firing Process {Western as in North American as opposed to Japanese; nothing to do with cowboys}. I do what works best given my climate and the materials in my local area. For further reading I suggest a trip to wikipedia, your local bookstore, or just a "Raku Pottery" search on the google machine.

1) In the second firing the kiln goes to 1600-1800 degrees, and (one at a time) each piece is removed from the kiln red hot.
2) They are placed in to a chamber of dried local natural materials, like cattails, reed grass and tumbleweed from the openspaces here in Colorado. Using materials from my direct environment helps me achieve unique effects with a local connection.
3) In the sealed metal reduction chamber, carbon fills the crazing {surface cracks} on the glaze as well as the pores of the raw clay surfaces. Fire burning in an oxygen starved environment pulls and traps metallic effects and color variation in to the glaze.

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