Now Available! Shop Now at MyAmericanCrafts for exquisite, nature -inspired bas-relief vases and bowls by ceramic artist Jen Stein.
I have always loved clay... for its magical possibilities, for its response to glaze, for its pure sensual pleasure.
Since 1994 I have been continuously throwing and modeling functional and sculptural objects - experimenting with form, technique, and glaze formulations. Through numerous workshops with respected professionals, I have broadened my knowledge of working in clay and glazes. I taught pottery for several years and have led numerous workshops. It was my great honor to be the president of The Potters' Guild of New Jersey from 2009 until 2016.
Over the years I have made everything from miniatures, large bas-relief murals, functional ware, figurative sculpture, and even bathroom sinks. I work primarily in porcelain and make my own glazes, which I fire to cone 6 in oxidation. For the last decade, my focus has been carving stamps for bas-relief impressions on thrown pots. Most of these stamps I make in the round to provide a continuous pattern - these are called 'roulettes'.
The bas-relief patterns on my pots are made by impressing textures into the clay with a 'roulette' -
a doughnut shaped porcelain stamp.
After choosing a theme, I carve around the outside wall of the 'doughnut' until the ends meet. The sculpting of a roulette is done in reverse: all surfaces meant to protrude must be carved deep into the clay, and the left and right sides of the image must be flipped - a mental puzzle I thoroughly enjoy.
After the roulette has been fired in the kiln, I slowly press the moist porcelain of a freshly thrown pot into the textures of the roulette, revealing the design. Once the pot has been fired, I brush a brown stain over the textures, wipe the stain from the surface to highlight the details, and for some patterns I hand-paint the images with multiple colors.
As soon as the painting is complete, I apply several layers of food-safe glazes. The pot goes into the kiln for a final firing and is at last ready to be enjoyed.