"Art is the illusion of spontaneity"
Ceramic artist Sandy Ashbaugh has been working in clay for over 30 years. She uses a traditional hand building method of slab construction and sgraffito, yet achieves a modern aesthetic. Among her best known pieces are those from; her uniquely designed and handcrafted, sake set collection, as well as her lidded vessel series. The latter was published in Lark Craft’s “500 Raku”, juried into various shows and purchased by public and private institutions.
Sandy draws inspiration from architectural and interior design elements, like those from the Bauhaus movement, Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry. She obtained her BFA from Florida Atlantic University and has worked in clay ever since.
Residing in Arizona, she is passionate about art education and has been involved with local schools and communities, teaching art as well as coordinating art programs and shows since 2004.
My first exposure to the visual arts was in college. I trained in a variety of mediums but was immediately drawn to clay, hand building with it for over 30 years.
For decades, I glazed my work in the Raku style by harnessing the power of gas fuel with fire and flames. This originally was a Japanese method of firing, which has been adapted to make ceramic pieces artistically pleasing but not food safe.
When I traded a busy community studio for the solitude of a private one, I also traded gas for electric power and reduction for oxidation. Light colored stoneware is still my clay of choice and continue to use intense colors and contrast.
I also embrace technology and am usually the one behind the camera.
My experience as a classically trained violinist resonates throughout my work. It imparts a lyrical quality that speaks of beauty and harmony with classical proportions.
My current series was born from my interest in Japanese sushi and sake. I am intrigued by the shapes and colors of the food and serving pieces, and felt compelled to design something different than the traditional wheel thrown sake set. Architectural and interior design elements, ranging from the Bauhaus movement to architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry, often serve as inspiration for my work.
First I roll out the clay and cut out pieces from my pre-designed patterns. Then I wrap the pieces into delicate flasks (tokkuri) resembling a kimono, tapering them slightly towards the top. The cups (ochoko) are also wrapped but are smaller and perfectly sized for a serving of sake.
Dramatic underglazes contrast the light colored clay. I make deliberate marks using the sgraffito technique, to carve through the color, allowing the clay body to show through. Clear glaze is then applied and fired in an electric kiln, making them food safe. The set is served on a wooden pedestal which is cut, sanded and torched with flame, singeing the wood to bring out the grain. This traditional Japanese technique is called Shou Sugi Ban. I design these to be artistically pleasing as well as functional. Kanpai!