This is the title of my first ceramics assignment this semester. The idea of the assignment (as I see it) is to connect with my family history through my artwork. Now, since this is a ceramic course and since I am a ceramic artist, the thing that first popped into my mind when considering this assignment was cups. Specifically, cups and saucers.
Growing up, my father would always give my mother a bone china cup and saucer for their anniversary. Every December 23 we knew that one of the boxes would contain a cup and saucer. I remember going with him to The Lemon Curd gift shop near our home and helping him pick one out on several occasions. After 45 years of marriage I'm sure she has quite a collection going now. I think there are a few repeats, but most of them are unique. When my great aunt Grace passed away I learned that it wasn't just my mother who collected these cups. My great aunt had quite a collection as did my grandmother and my mother's sister. In many ways, these cups embrace what it meant to be a woman in that family. This side of my family had a very strong English background; one of my great-grandmothers was an Irish immigrant and another great-grandfather was from Scotland. What could possibly be more English than English bone china?
On the other side of my family, my grandmother had a collection of Chinese porcelain which was elaborately decorated with Chinese motifs using china paints that she had inherited from an aunt. This collection was passed on to my mother when I was in third grade. I have to say that I was fascinated with these pieces from the moment they entered our home. The teacups are so thin that you can see the outline of the china paint through the inside of the cup. I used to look at them and wonder how they could have possibly made such fine cups. Now that I know more about ceramics I understand what was involved in their making and I think I appreciate them even more for it.
For this assignment I would like to make a series of cups and saucers using slip casting techniques and then incorporate some family photos onto the glazed pieces using laser decals, thus tying them back to my ancestors.