Thursday, September 30, 2010

As we approach the end of this year's High Holiday cycle with the celebration of Shemini Atzeret and Simchas Torah, I've turned my creative eye to Passover. I've recently sold the Seder Set in my shop, leaving an open spot for a new design.

I've always liked the deconstructed Seder Sets and have decided to turn in that direction and create a Representational Seder Set, with pieces designed to inspire discussion of the symbolic foods on the Passover table.

I began by throwing a tall, straight sided cylinder, which I cut into 4 sections of equal size. This avoided the uncertainty of getting a matching set by throwing each piece separately. The  bottoms of these would be cut from a slab. But a couple of them would be treated to texturing on a couple of different texture boards before their bottoms were added.

The Charoset dish, representing the mortar with which our ancestors built structures as slaves in ancient Egypt, is textured with a brick pattern. The other has a wood pattern for the Karpas, or the greens, which has several different interpretive symbols. The one I have chosen is a lesser known one, it's representation as the plant material used to mark the doorposts of each Jewish home to protect its inhabitants from the final plague -- the killing of the firstborn.

The easiest way to texture the exteriors of these open cylinders was to roll them over texture boards using a rolling pin on their inside. The bricks were easy. However, for the wood, I cut the top of one of the sections off so I could roll the bottom one way and the top portion the other, then reattaching the pieces once the textures had been rolled on. This gives the appearance of a door with the lintel on top.

The Baytzah (egg) just has a slab base, with a surrounding nest created by pressing clay through a garlic press and attaching sections of it with a bit of slip. The Zeroah (bone) will sit on a slab "altar" with curved "legs" to elevate it.

The greatest representational challenge was the Maror and Chazeret, both bitter herbs -- two types, since the text speaks of bitter herbS, After much thinking and even more discussion, I decided to link the two cylinders on a single base, adding a yoke to the front of one. Once the piece has been fired, I'll loop a small rope from the yoke, around the two bowls.

I'll also be making a bowl for the salt water in the shape of a tear. However, I need to first finish up the underglazing of the pieces that have already been made.

I haven't taken photos yet. But, rest assured, they'll be forthcoming soon.