Biodegradable Urns, Encaustic Painted

Biodegradable Urns are made with paper pulp and recycled clay. The surface of these urns are painted with encaustic wax and pigment.

I am categorizing these urns as biodegradable, because like my 100% biodegradable urns they are not fired in a kiln. The paper and clay part of these urns will break down in water, and in the earth. The encaustic painted surface application of beeswax and damar resin (tree sap) are not totally water soluble, therefore these urns should not be used for burial at sea. My intention for these urns is for natural earth burial, or to keep as a treasured memory for your home.

I have been making biodegradable urns since 2009. I mostly work with patterns and hand painted papers to create quilt like patterns on the surface, see earlier post here.  On these latest urns I am using the encaustic painting technique, which is an ancient method of painting with beeswax and earth pigments for color. See history here.  I have always been intrigued by this method of painting because of the layers and textures that can be created from the hot wax. It feels so much like working in clay. I am able to manipulate the hot, warm, and cool wax with tools… it is such a sculptural way of painting.

A couple of years back I took a workshop at R&F Paints in Kingston N.Y.  I spent a few days there learning the technique of encaustic painting. I brought a few of my tiny biodegradable urns with me hoping I could paint on them once I learned the proper method on wood and paper first. The workshop instructor was happy I brought the urns, and said that people use encaustic on clay tiles, so it would work just fine. As I began to melt the wax on the surface of the clay many ideas came to mind for the endless possibilities! I had so much fun taking a break from pottery for a few days and learning something new. I also learned that just because I am a potter/artist it does not mean I can just pick up a new medium and expect it to be easy. I gained a new respect for encaustic painters in those few days at R&F Paints.

Fast forward two years later. I have finally made time to use what I learned from the workshop. These new urns are the beginning of a new way of working with clay, paper, beeswax, and pigment. I am liking the texture and the earthiness that I am achieving.

The first photo below shows the urn freshly made. It needs to dry completely before I begin the process on applying the hot wax and pigment. The following photos show the finished pieces.

These small urns will hold up to 20 cubic inches, and measure 5″h x 4″w. They can be found on my shop page here.

Making the biodegradable paper clay urn LucyFagella.com

 

Encaustic Painted Biodegradable Urn LucyFagella

Biodegradable Urns Encaustic Painted LucyFagella

biodegradable urn, bottom detail

biodegradable urn lid detail Lucy Fagella.com

Biodegradable Clay Urns

New biodegradable clay urns are being made in the pottery studio this past month.

I am very excited about this new series of biodegradable clay urns! I only make these urns about once a year, as it requires a good deal of space and time. I use paints, paper, recycled paper pulp and reclaimed porcelain clay. The studio gets taken over by this process!

I began making biodegradable clay urns in 2009, mainly for environmental reasons. I wanted to make something that did not require the use of fossil fuels. Firing kilns takes lots of electricity, or other fossil fuels such as gas, or wood. I do the best I can in the studio to recycle, and re-use clay, water, and packing materials. I purposely fire a to mid range temperature, and do a very low bisque firing to save electricity. The past couple of years the environmentally forward thinking town of Greenfield, MA where I live built a very large solar farm, which we get most of our electricity from… I am very happy about that!

As I experimented over the the years with nature inspired biodegradable urns, I found myself leaning more and more towards color and pattern in these urns. You can see some of the older urns on my old WordPress blog here.

Many of my older biodegradable urns were a nod to quilt making. Before I had children I fell in love with quilt making. Between the kids and working full time as a potter there was no time for sewing. I tried getting back to it as the kids went off to college, but after working a full day making pots, or glazing pots, my fingers were way too tired to hold a needle. So these quilt like urns are my answer for my need to quilt. I find my inspiration mainly in older quilts and Islamic patterns. These can be found on my Pinterest board here.

The new series of quilt inspired urns are different from the older ones. For the first time in the eight years of making biodegradable urns, I am throwing the urns on the potters wheel. I always just assumed you could not throw clay mixed with lots of paper. I was wrong, you can… it’s not easy though!

Here are a few photos of new the series of biodegradable clay and paper urns that I am working on. They are all in process. They look a little grey in color when they are still wet. After they dry completely the porcelain will turn white, at that point I will rub in beeswax to seal the surface, and give it a slight sheen.

I will be putting these up on my urn shop page in the next week or so. I have some a couple of the older ones listed in my shop here.

biodegradable clay urns LucyFagella.com

biodegradable clay urns Lucy Fagellabiodegradable clay urn Lucy Fagellabiodegradable clay urn LucyFagella.com

Patterns through the Years

I went to college for ceramic art 30 years ago… ugh, I’m getting so old.  The first 15 years after college were spent teaching pottery, farming, and having kids.  The last 15 years I have been a full time, making-a-living-from-it potter.  When I look back at the pots I have made, there is a thread that keeps surfacing… and that is pattern.  I really love the repetition and movement that happens with overlapping patterns.  I also love the soothing repetitive lines of a ripples in the water, or windblown sand. Patterns are literally everywhere in nature.  It is no wonder that artists have consciously or unconsciously include it in their art.  My favorite patterns are from Islamic architecture and American quilts.  Check out my Pinterest board on quilts and patterns!

Included below are pots of mine from the past 10 years.

Goblets with stamped pattern, 2004
Goblets with stamped pattern, 2004
Biodegradable Urn BlueTie Quilt, 2007
Biodegradable Urn BlueTie Quilt, 2007
Tiles with pattern, 2009
Tiles with pattern, 2009
White Stamped Urn, 2010
White Stamped Urn, 2010
Biodegradable Urn, June Star, and Sun Squared, 2012
Biodegradable Urn, June Star, and Sun Squared, 2012
Star leaf cup and saucer, 2015
Star leaf cup and saucer, 2015
From my morning walk today. Snow spattering.
From my morning walk today. Snow spattering.

Etsy Photos

Photographing for my etsy shop… its gotta be a little different from the boring grey tones for me.  Yes I know the grey has it’s place… the galleries, the books… but for etsy, I’m thinking color, and the appeal of  it, for the general public.

The patterns on my biodegradable urns are made from paintings I have done on paper.  I thought, wouldn’t be cool to use that same paper as background for the photos.  I like the results!

Summertime Studio, Biodegradable Urns

I have been focusing on the biodegradable urns as I have the last two summers.  The grasses, leaves and wildflowers are readily available… although I seem to be using less than I have in the past.  I’m leaning more towards the patterns as I have always done in my porcelain pottery.  I love patterns and optical illusions… these feel like they are coming together to give the quilt like feeling I love so much.

Here are some photos of the pieces at different stages of drying in the studio.  Once they are completely dry I will photograph them for my etsy shop, LuciaUrns