Residency at the Ceramic Store

In 2009, I was given a residency at the Ceramic Store in Philadelphia. The owner — Mark Leuders — had recently aquired a kiln stilt manufacturer, and had moved operations into his store and workshop facilities. Kiln stilts allow one to rest clay forms on sharp metal or clay points, allowing forms to be fired with glaze on the bottom without having them fuse to the kiln shelf. This residency was based around making use of materials and forms related to the kiln stilts. I proposed a project called “Thicket” based on the thorny, spiky quality of kiln stilts. I endeavored to create small environments using forms from the stilt molds recombined in various ways. These thicket environments would then provide a home for ceramic birds. I researched birds native to the Philadelphia area, and found images and birdsong recordings of each of them. I used the images as the basis for creating and decorating the life-sized ceramic birds. The audio was set up on small microcontroller boards placed under the sculpture, along with a motion sensor. As long as there was no movement nearby, random birdsong segments would play (with random pauses in between), but if someone came near, it was meant to seem as if the bird was scared, and chose to remain silent.