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

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

Breaking From My Daily Ritual

It is not a regular ritual, like the day in, day out making of my functional pottery.  Making my biodegradable urns is something that happens every couple of months (unless I have a special order).  Making these urns is a whole different mindset from my functional foodie pottery.  The first thing I have to do is clear the big work table… which in turn clears my head.  I lay out the colored papers which I painted months before.  I think about my forms and patterns, roll out the paper clay that I have made weeks before, and begin creating.  The thing I love about these urns is the process… a totally different process than what I do daily in my studio.  The results are immediate, the color, the texture, and the form.  No kiln involved, no waiting a couple of weeks for the results!