Printing on Clay

Lesley Baker and students consider work by Dora Chen

The mid-semester crit at RISD is an opportunity for students to try out the techniques they’re learning in studio, gauge the responses of their peers and teachers, and build on their growing bodies of work. For the students in Associate Professor Lesley Bakers Ceramics and Print class, it’s a chance to gather feedback on the approaches they’re taking to combine printmaking techniques with their explorations in clay.

“The combination of ceramic and print technologies has tremendous potential for new applications.”

Associate Professor Lesley Baker

“Ceramics and printmaking have a shared ethos in the production of multiples and process-driven technical methods,” Baker explains. “The combination of ceramic and print technologies has tremendous potential for new applications. We’ve been focusing in recent weeks on creating monoprints on paper and then transferring those images onto objects before firing them in the kiln.”

Yilina Yang presents her work to the class


two-headed porcelain figure by Yilina Yang
Junior Yilina Yang (top photo, center) gets feedback on the technique she's using to apply a monoprint to a two-headed figure that represents her and her best friend.

Ceramics major Yilina Yang 24 CR is applying monoprints that feature mountain scenes to her figurative works in stoneware and porcelain. “I started with stoneware but prefer the way the pattern shows up on the lighter-colored porcelain,” she says. “The two-headed figure represents me and my best friend and our close relationship.”
Baker points out that the meaning of the piece will change depending on what she places in its holes, and grad student Dora Chen MFA 23 CR says she appreciates the detail in the figure’s hair.

flat, oval piece with chain by Dora Chen
This flat piece by Dora Chen features a smeared monoprint and a length of chain that was attached to the surface before getting fired in the kiln.

When it’s her turn to share, Chen shows how she is applying prints to a flat slab of clay intended to be hung on a wall. The work builds on a series she started last year exploring her relationship with her father, a calligrapher whose lettering she has used before. “I also incorporated a print I made using the toy Spirograph, which I always loved playing with as a kid,” she adds, “but I used a sponge to alter the shape.”

“I also incorporated a print I made using the toy Spirograph, which I always loved playing with as a kid.”

Grad Student Dora Chen

“You’re really making us work for it,” Baker notes with a laugh. “You’ve obscured the image twice, first by smudging it and then by covering it with chain.”

Senior Tallulah King discusses the thinking behind her work
Senior Tallulah King shares the thinking behind her recent work.

Senior Tallulah King 23 IL, an Illustration major, is also tapping into childhood passions, creating prints out of “skritchy” sketches she made long ago. “I think these unrefined drawings match the imperfections of the ceramic pieces,” she says.

senior Chenxi Wang explains his process
Senior Chenxi Wang wonders if there is a way to transfer his prints to clay without losing parts of the image.

And senior Chenxi Wang 23 CR is building on a video he made last year at Tillinghast Farm, turning stills from the piece into a silkscreen monoprint he’s applying to curved slabs of clay. “I want the underglaze to react more with the overglaze in the kiln,” he says, “so I’m experimenting with the accelerant, which makes the image fuzzier and more atmospheric—almost like a watercolor painting.”
Simone Solondz / photos by Isabel Roberts

November 17, 2022

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