Stitch in Time….
Imagine a store mannequin. Then imagine a store mannequin with a full skirt of feathers and blue beads and silver wire in curls. Then you have picture on of Estella Fransbergen’s female torsos, which made their appearance at the Grand Haven Art Festival this past weekend.
She uses RAKU clay and fires in what she calls a “spiritual process.” And “thought flows through the hands as the clay assumes the human form.” Originally from South Africa and now residing in rural Illinois, Estella has art in galleries in Europe and Canada, as well as the United States. Her work definitely caught our eye in this weekend’s show.
I found her description of firing her work very interesting:
Firing is a spiritual process for me. I sage the fire pit area; use hard wood like oak, hickory or cherry – often cut and split from our own property – and build a fire. I can see and feel the intense heat as I carefully arrange the piece into the fire. I sit in front of the fire for hours watching heat colors and dancing flames paint the piece – they give the piece it’s soul.
A specific moment comes. I move to take the piece out. I have to wear fire protective gear: a head and face shield, boots, a large apron and huge asbestos mittens with a couple of fingers. Tongs don’t work with the larger pieces. Its almost as if I have to move into the fire, cradle the piece and gently usher it out. I put the piece in a large trashcan full of combustibles, fan and then smother the fire. It’s nearly over. I take the piece out of the can and flush it with cool water.
Over time, I have learned to simply accept and thank nature for what is. From clay, dust, water, wood, air and fire, a piece has been BORN.
Bob Walma contributed images of Estella’s work and Emma Baty contributed to today’s blog post.