Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tea Leaf

I ask myself, why bother to paint these images, when I could just photo-collage them? 
But something happens during the time it takes to paint a photo. This time, halfway through copying my mother's obituary, I felt I was painting a picture of myself. I don't think of myself as looking much like her, but sometimes I see the resemblence.

My siblings wrote the obituary, which is entirely factual (I shortened it here), except for the bit of psalm at the end. 
It's fine; it's what they wanted, but I would have made it more personal. (I'd also have used the King James version, which I know our mother loved: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil...")

Painting it now, I've made it my own.

I couldn't stand to paint bullet flowers, after all. Instead, I based the border on the "tea leaf" china pattern. I have some dishes with this pattern from my mother, who inherited them from her mother, Meribel, who collected them. 

Stone and Bone

I looked the tea leaf pattern up: it was a very common one, made in England for export, often by the Alfred Meakin pottery in Staffordshire. 

And sure enough, that's the name on the underside of my plates: 
Royal Ironstone China
 Alfred Meakin.
I like the periods. (More on Meakin, here.)

What's ironstone?
Hard, strong, white earthenware––distinctive for containing iron slag as one of its ingredients–– developed in the 1800s by potters in Staffordshire, England, as a cheaper, mass-produced alternative for porcelain.

Um, so what's porcelain?
"Porcelain is a ceramic made by heating materials, generally including kaolin clay, to temperatures between 2,192 ºF and 2,552 °F. The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain arise mainly from the formation of glass within the fired body at these high temperatures.

Porcelain's name comes from old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell, which appar. was likened to the vulva of a sow, n. use of feminine of porcellano of a young sow =porcell(a)"

China is called china because porcelain was invented in China in 200 BC.

Bone china includes ash from animal (cattle) bones, the strength of which makes it possible to create very thin china. 

[I cobbled together much of the above info from various Wikipedia entries.]


Bookworm said...

I recently watched a programme about Edmund de Wall researching his new book about porcelain, and setting up his latest exhibition. I think you would like it.

Zhoen said...

One thought leading on to another.

My father's obituary, which I found months after, is hardly how I would have put it.

S---,RENE Beloved husband of Mary. Dearest father of David (Jan), Bill, and Joan.

Me being the last name, un-consulted and untold.

Remember seeing an educational series on pottery, and watching porcelain makers working is fascinating, more like throwing dough.

Fresca said...

BOOKWORM: Cool. I just last week read deWaal's _Hare with Amber Eyes_ and loved it! I'd been meaning to look up his ceramic work, and here you've led me to it: thanks!

ZHOEN: Ugh. "Dearest father"...I guess one could read that as a variation "Mommie Dearest"...

ArtSparker said...

Your work is quite lovely, although that may not be why you are doing this. The tea leaf pattern is much better than the bullets for saying what you want to say because it does not insist. Your instincts about not doing photo collages are sound, because there is a reconciliation (the only one possible now, perhaps) in watercolors which will not be true of photo collages. Plus, you are talented so all the better.

Fresca said...


How wonderful to see you!
Thank you for your insight (and praise)--watercoloring offers the possibility of reconciliation (true), and I especially love how you put this:
"the tea leaf pattern... does not insist."

Yes! That's the thing, isn't it? Not to hit people (or oneself!) over the head.