RISD influenced

Updated: Mar 10, 2020

In 2009, when I was living in East Providence and attending the Rhode Island School of Design, I took a ceramics class. This was the only arts elective we were allowed to take due to a structured curriculum in the Department of Teaching + Learning in Art + Design. I was impressed with the ceramics facilities and teaching faculty of RISD, so I was excited to expand my ceramic sculpture knowledge.

This class was taught a little differently. Instead of a set of assigned projects, we were given a theme to ideate, construct, and refine. The theme had to do with Protection - Nurture - Habitation... which brought me into my father's basement to borrow some of his tools and other objects from his and my childhood.

I wanted to make press molds of these objects, mostly because I was fascinated with the process of mold making, but also because I envisioned developing a nest with tools and nails and other protective objects on the surface to ward off enemies. Contrasting, the inside of the nest would be filled with soft, comforting materials to offer a safe and peaceful environment to grow in.

But mostly... I wanted to make some molds! I wanted to press the clay into the mold then throw the form on the table to "wazz" it out.

This class stayed with me dormant for a long time. It was only a 10-12 week class and then I was overwhelmed with student-teaching and final graduate classes. Then I was job searching and starting my career as an art teacher. It was close to a decade before I would create another mold.

When I became a Mother, I felt an urgency to kindle my creative self again. At times that urgency overwhelmed me, I remember moments of pure inspiration - that heart thumping, vibrational burning to start a new idea - and then I realized I was breastfeeding a newborn while also watching a 2.5 year old run around and get into everything. In that haze of exhaustion and inspiration, I found myself frustrated that I could not have a moment to myself let alone hours to spend in the art studio.

I wondered if I should just let the idea of being a professional artist go. Watch it flitter away like a rare butterfly - out of reach and flying gracefully into the sunlight - only the shimmer of the sun on its wings visible before it was just.... gone.

I don't want that.

I gathered all of my motherly objects to make a new set of molds.

At the time I was drowning in baby bottles. every day it was a mess of bottles and nipples and all the different parts that needed to be scrubbed and cleaned and rinsed and dried, then reassembled. This inspired a coloring page...

The process for making a press mold involves a lot of steps and precautions. There are some artists who make molds that look so beautiful, finely crafted and perfectly trimmed. On the other hand, my molds look like a mess. I found that fitting.

Here is a link to a video that shows the step by step process of making a press mold - told by another art teacher - Mr. Wilson.

Next week I will tell you all about the artworks that came from these press molds.

Thanks for reading!

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