Our collective history can be traced in clay. How has clay connected us, inspired our creativity, and influenced our daily rituals?
The unique and subtle differences in composition of this earth-harvested ingredient is transformed by geography and environmental elements over time—just like us.
Beginning this week, we're sharing more from talented artisans who work daily with this fascinating material, and exploring how our history, traced in clay, weaves itself into our modern rituals.
Today, we're featuring Julie of MUSETTE CÉRAMIQUE. A Toronto based ceramic artist that spent many years weaving and working with textiles in Montréal, or venturing off to study silversmithing in the mountains of Mexico before finding a passion for clay and ceramics.
From her tiny studio, she handbuilds sculptural vessels with coiling, slab and pinching techniques, a slow process that contributes to all kinds of beautiful irregularities and makes each piece one of a kind.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey with clay and ceramic art
I moved from Montréal to Toronto about 6 years ago. I currently work on my ceramics out of my tiny home studio, nestled in between Little India and the Beach Triangle neighbourhoods. I’ve always been creative and interested in making things with my hands, and after trying many different mediums – weaving, silversmithing, sewing, textile design – I finally found clay about four years ago.
I started with classes on the wheel and started throwing small cups, bowls, vessels, but it didn’t feel quite right for me until one of my teachers just handed me a big clump of clay and told me to try handbuilding. I was instantly hooked. I taught myself about coils and slowly learned how to build and shape a piece. I love how tactile handbuilding is, and I love that nothing looks too polished.
You can always see that someone touched, molded, and formed the clay.
I love the beauty of the raw clay and it inspires me to create my pieces. I try not to plan too much when I start building up a piece, and I let the clay guide me. It’s a material that’s very much alive. I like when things look a bit off, wonky, imperfect. This looks natural and beautiful to me.
Can you tell us about the process of working with clay, from start to finish?
When I start a new vessel, I don’t usually have a specific idea in mind. I start building and sculpting and I follow the clay’s natural movement. It’s very intuitive for me. I’ve been using a white stoneware and adding a coarse grog before starting to sculpt, which adds a lot of texture once the piece is finished. It can take me from a few hours to several weeks to finish a piece, depending on the size and the shape. As I work on a vessel or a sculpture, it changes and takes on its own shape. My finished product is often quite different than what I imagined.
I like this process because it assures that each piece is truly one of a kind.
After the piece is complete, I let it dry for several weeks until it's ready to go into the kiln. I often take a damp sponge to work that is bone dry to smooth out any bumps or scratches. Each piece gets fired twice – a bisque firing and a glaze firing. I don’t like using coloured glazes to cover up the clay – I want to show its natural colour and texture, so I usually only glaze the inside with a clear matte glaze. I’m very drawn to the imperfect look of the white clay once it’s fired.
Tell us about your first experience with .eluo.
This was my first time using a powder-based face mask, and I loved it. Not only did the Forma Rosea hydrating mask make my skin feel smooth and clean, but the ritual of mixing the mask myself was soothing.
Thank you to Julie for sharing with us, for more - follow her journey on Instagram.