May 15, 2010

Song Lore Saturday: Crucify

So here's the thing.  I wanted to do these awesome pieces for today's Song Lore inspiration.  But I wanted to do something really different and experimental.  I had big dreams.  But it didn't really work out the way I hoped.  This blog is about process and I like to show the good with the bad, so here it goes.
Today's song is Crucify by Tori Amos.  It's a pretty intense song and one that I have related with for many years.  I listen to it to remind me to not give up too much of myself, which I am prone to do.  Anyway, the imagery in this song is intense.  When I listen to it, I see nails, chains, and cages swirling around in my head.  So I wanted to experiment with embedding actual nails into my clay.

 "I've been raising up my hands
Drive another nail in
Just what God needs
One more victim"

The pieces above are the most successful of this series, as I inserted the nails and removed them prior to firing.  They are glued in place post-firing. But what I really wanted was to fire the nails into the clay, so they were an integral part.  That produced some unusual, almost comical results.  Particularly since I was going to a very raw, violent look.
The nails melted!
I used steel finishing nails, thinking they would withstand the high temperatures.  They made it through bisque just fine, but when I did my cone 6 glaze (around 2200 degrees) they puffed up and got all melty.  It's almost Tim Burtonesque, really!  Experimental... yes! Totally not stable or usable though.
But wait, there's more!  The line of the song that really strikes me is:

"I know a cat named Easter, he says will you ever learn
You're just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird"

So I wanted to do an empty cage.  And a dead bird.  Yeah. Kinda morbid, eh?
The cages were a good thought and there might still be potential there, but I think that might be a better project for more traditional wire and soldering, which I am perfectly capable of doing, if I had the time.  I liked the idea of clay and metal together to make a cage, but it just didn't work out the way I thought it would.
The one design that might actually work out as a series is based on this line:

"And my heart is sick of being in chains"

Very simple, very literal... hearts with chains embedded into them to make patterns.  And I was thinking of hanging chains from the bottom holes of the hearts, post firing.  I figure these will be glazed in very earthy and metallic rusty glazes. 
So there you go.  Not so bad, I know, but not what I wanted. *sigh*  It happens sometimes in art, that the vision and the finish product do not add up to the same thing.  It happens a lot, actually. So this was not an entirely successful Song Lore experiment, and it was kind of important to me.  Oh well, carry on.  They can't all be Birdhouse in Your Soul.

Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.


  1. Oh! I've been thinking about pieces with copper in them and wondering what their fate would be. If a nail gets all puffed up...

    Wow! Those are really intense! I love the cage! Really strong imagery!

  2. Thanks Gaea! Yeah I don't know what might happen to copper. I am tempted to try stainless steel, but I might just stick to high temp wire in the future...

  3. I just saw some ceramic art that had nails fired in successfully, the nails were used twofold-as a functional way to keep seams together and also as a decorative feature...wish I could remember where I saw it!

  4. melanie,
    the dead bird is kinda morbid,but i get where you were headed with the the hearts with the chains i love them. all of fact, i have a project in mind that the one on the right in the pic of the 3 hearts,that it would be perfect for.i am calling it unchained melody,but it takes me quite awhile to do one piece,because i'm on disability and i just can't afford to buy alot off the net,i go to alot of garage sales.
    the birdcage idea ilike it alot too... and i have a project it would work with,it's called keys to my heart aqnd soul...
    oh, aqnd your clouds, i really love them. i want the teal and lt green ones,and yep i have an idea for them too! i have been wanting to do a necklace in memory of my mom and dad,we lost daddy 22yrs. ago but May 4th was the 2nd anniversary of losing my mom.anyway,i use to tell my mom, that as awnry as my dad was,he was sitting up there in heaven on his own special cloud,looking down at us and laughing. he was just as awnry as ever. i also told her the empty cloud next to his,was reserved for her,that way they both had front row seats,so they both could look down at us kids,and laugh at what was happening in our lives...
    so as you can see i am a huge fan of your work,i just haven't been able to afford any at this time...i bead for art therapy due to my disease,it helps me from not going crazy....

  5. Melanie, you'll never guess what i have been working on- too funny.

  6. Melissa, sounds neat!

    Nannie, thanks for reading and commenting!

    Diane, can't wait to see what you are working on, LOL

  7. I bisque fire to cone 04 and glaze fire to cone 06 I wonder if the nails would survive those temps if they survived your bisque fire. Hmmmm. I love the birdcage. How did that not turn out?

  8. Cindy,
    Yep, I think these nails would survive those temps. I might try it again with Raku or some other low fire glazing.

    Thanks about the birdcage! It is just not what I had in mind... a little too inconsistent and wonky, not as clean as I envisioned.