Ceramic artist Carol Long captures the delicate intricacy of nature in her detailed ceramic sculptures. Her organic forms with their twisting spouts and swirling handles often take the shape of insects and wildlife. And if not, the vessels are sure to have an homage to the spectacularity of flora and fauna somewhere on their surfaces. Each ornate piece is painstakingly crafted by hand, whether they’re thrown on the wheel or she’s building them from slabs and extrusions.
Then comes the meticulous molding and shaping of the piece into its final shape, dotted with complex patterns of ornamentation that mimic those naturally occurring in nature. Everything from butterfly wings and birds to caterpillars and chrysalides perch on Long’s ceramic art. “Most of my forms start with a thrown piece,” Long tells My Modern Met. “I love to push forms to look fluid, extend handles into space, slip trail and glaze surface designs to bring the entire piece together. It’s low tech and time-consuming.”
When she is finished sculpting them and they’ve completely dried, each piece is then glazed and fired to cone 5. At that setting, the kiln reaches temperatures of over 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit; and what was once soft, malleable clay is solidified into its final configuration. “But,” the artist explains, “then I spend a lot of time dirtying them up to look antiqued and look like they were in a magical atmospheric firing.”
Long’s ceramic vessels, whether towering vases or small lidded bowls, manage to capture the fluidity and expressiveness of the medium with their curving lines and ripping handles and bases. The textured works of art almost take on a life of their own, like whimsical creatures spawned from nature and the artist’s own hands of creation.