Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chad Wright

"I was raised in Orange County—a sprawling suburb of Southern California built by disciples of Levittown. We lived in a tract house, a symbol of the American Dream, just like our neighbors. Dad, a realtor, and mom, a preschool teacher, met while working at JCPenneys in 1970. We spent our summers in Breezy Point, New York, at the yellow beach bungalow that my grandma Stella bought with war bonds, unknown to grandpa who was stationed in Iwo Jima soon after they eloped. As children, my big brother Christopher and I would build cities in the sand, beneath the bungalow’s slatted porch floorboards.

In a series titled Master Plan, I am conflating a child’s sandcastle with architecture typifying postwar American suburbia. This three-part series culls artifacts from my childhood, investigating suburbia in its vision and legacy. Phase One focuses on the mass-produced tract house, re-examining it as symbol for the model American Dream."

by Chad Wright

Weird Science, Part I

Lately I have been working with less sink sludge and more reclaimed clays. The stained bodies you see are from the piles behind Bray Clay and the iron body is a conglomerate of porcelain from Adam Field and earthenware from Ben Carter that in combination will make a nice toasty cone 6 body. After working with the sludge for so long it was so enjoyable to work with plastic clays! While I can make the sludge into a more workable material with repeated wedging, it still can really only be pinched and coiled as it is far too short for slabwork or throwing.

By Tuesday I will have my first bisque out and the week of glazing will begin. While I did bring a lot of glaze with me, I still do need to batch a nice satin matte base for the first glaze firing. A lot of it will also be done in underglaze since the clay biz was having a 45% off and buy one get one sale on Duncan underglaze. (I do allow myself to buy manufactured materials if they are really cheap!)

In the next few days I'll post some more information about the mixes of glaze and clay I've been making and a little bit about making your own coarse grog from waste. In the meantime, back to the studio to make farm houses and silo and finish up the last round of irrigation circle plates and swimming pool dessert bowls.

Friday, August 30, 2013


I'm getting behind in photographing my studio again so here is an interlude covering the space of South Dakota to Missoula. For some reason I did not take any photos of Iowa, even though it was extremely influential in terms of Aha! moments. Ideally when I would show this work it would be on a center table and three side tables that would carry the pieces and there would be an accompanying tablecloth and runner set reminiscent of those play mats with farm and cities and roads on them. I won't be able to pull that off for this next show (opening October 4th at Frontier Space in Missoula!) but in the future since I will be in the wonderfully crafty Philadelphia I am sure that I can pull it together.

At any rate, these pictures were taken from a moving vehicle so apologies for the blurriness. I omitted the ones with bug stains if that makes it any better.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Towards a Standard

There is a lot of history at Archie Bray and luckily Chip Clawson knows a lot of it. He took the residents on a tour of what remains of the factories here and it proved to be highly informational. I'll be posting more about that in the coming days as I took a lot of photos before my battery died.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of what the back of the property looks like. In an effort to bring the brickyard into a new realm of production a new building was built (now the home of Bray Clay) and a tunnel kiln was installed. Unfortunately, no one ever learned the balance of clay to time and temperature in the kiln and not only was a massive amount of brick deemed not to be at industry standard but the brick yard was closed after profits halted.

As a result there is now a very interesting landscape covering the acreage behind the Shaner building and clay business. In fact it is very similar to what can be found in Medicine Hat (IXL actually owned the property for a while!) in that over years of rain and snow the piles have slowly spread and are meshed with the soil and flora creating a sort of alien orange landscape. Definitely quality rambling territory. I would recommend the hours just before sunset when the light makes the colors more vivid. Also it is a good place to sit and watch a storm come down from the hills.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Sunset and storm in Helena. It changes every night, but it's always beautiful.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


These are the tools I use most often in my work:

Metal ribs, Mainly for scraping to even surfaces and expose marbling, but also for cutting interior angles,
Wooden modeling tools, for contouring angles,
Utility knife and Xacto blade, cutting straight lines,
Loop tools, for trimming the interior of lidded vessels,
Trimming tool, which works wonderfully as a tiny paddle, the
Needle tool that is used on hollow knobs and for trimming molds, a
Cheese slicer for corners, the
Wooden paddle to form planes, and the
Scoring tool for scoring.

While there are a multitude of other tools I have for very specific uses, these are the ones I can't go a day without. Eventually I will attempt to explain my glazing process, which is eerily similar to mixing paint except I have to guess how it will turn out. It gets crazy.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


These are most of the molds for the body of work I will be making at The Bray. Most of them are pieces of recyclable plastic packaging I have collected over the past year. Plastic is great a mold material since it is durable and lightweight. I coat the interior of the mold with mineral oil that the clay releases more easily, although mostly only the deeper molds require this kind of attention.

I still have a few missing pieces to be located over the coming days. I anticipate cake.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I have arrived at Archie Bray, many thanks to the amazing Erik Zohn for being the Hoke to my Miss Daisy. (His words) At any rate, all materials, ceramics, foods, people, and cats arrived without incident in Helena and I am now sitting in my studio writing this instead of working. I will take photos of probably everything except the stuff that would make sense to photograph. I will not discover this until I am on the drive to Philly, I can assure you. Also, I will be better about blogging. Not promises, I have a lot to do with a possible show in Missoula coming up in 5.5 weeks.

For those of you who are wondering what I will be doing with my time in the studio here at the Bray I would say to you that I am making sets of boxes, jars, dessert plates, cordial glasses, etc. for snack foods based on architectural forms seen from the roads of middle America. Key terms include: nostalgia, tradition, and Hostess snack cakes. More smarter (grammer?) statement to follow in the coming days.

Otherwise I'll probably be kicking it in nature and drinking beer. The above photo is of a farm somewhere between Helena and Missoula with some very inspirational forms.