Friday, March 28, 2014

Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips has been Kicking out pots in his Abilene, Texas studio for about 11 years. His traditional functional ware has a durable nature that is infused with his personal work ethic. His studio is environmentally low-impact, using construction scraps to fire his kiln. Digging his own clay and formulating his own glazes with locally sourced ashes that would otherwise be thrown away plays a part in his environmental position. brandon Demonstrates an incredible amount of skill and dedication in producing work of such quality and consistency under these self imposed circumstances.

I am drawn to the craftsmanship in Brandon's forms and to the simplicity with which he uses his glazes. There is an honesty that flows from his work which includes making and using his own brushes. It doesn't seem as if he strives for his work to be something that it's not. He aims and hits his mark.

A little over a year ago I picked out two of Brandon's yunomi. The first is decorated with a few clusters of dots on top of a combed background.

The tightly fit glaze enhances the thrown detail in the base of the form. Brandon creates a slow spiral from the middle of the cup down towards the foot. It compels me to turn the cup as I'm holding it, eventually drawing my attention to the crisp chop mark and the turned foot. In the center of the foot is a surprise: Brandon leaves a finial of clay when he turns the foot. The finial acts as a pivot point in my hand, further encouraging me to turn the cup in my hand as I hold it. As a potter, I find it comfortably interactive to hold and slowly turn a finished cup as I'm using it. This piece definitely delivered more than I expected from just looking at a photo of it.

The second yunomi has a colorful ash glaze with a sweet crystalline patch. Again, I have to remark how well he manages to get a homemade glaze to fit a homemade clay body. The glaze is thick and rich but not drippy. The inside is so glassy it looks wet. I like the weight of Brandon's cups, how they sit in my hand. They feel comfortable, sturdy and reliable in a way that helps me relax about using them. They aren't fragile; they aren't clunky. They are just right.

The notches attractively capture the flow of the glaze and the shape of the foot's upper edge acts like a gutter that guarantees that the bottom of the foot stays dry.

This platter is a more recent acquisition.

This is a fine piece, exactly what I would expect Brandon to make. It's a flat plate with a bowed rim and trimmed foot. Carefully crafting the fluid marks as they are swiped into the glaze gives the plate a casual nonchalance that belies the skill it takes to make something hard look so easy. Like all of Brandon's work, it displays well by itself but especially shines when it's in use because it so well enhances the food served on it.

Brandon's work is definitely of the kind on wants to purchase as it comes along. I am glad I have the pieces I own. They are like snapshots of a time and place in his professional journey. Brandon is making some exciting changes in his studio. He will be tearing apart his wood fire kiln, then rebuilding it to burn recycled oil. His work will grow and change in this process, I can't wait to see where he will go from here.

You can follow the adventure of Brandon Phillips at his blog Support Your Local Potter. You can check out his work at the Schaller Gallery. I heartily encourage you to support his Kickstarter kiln project which has reached its initial goal. Time is running down to be able to contribute to his upper level support, please don't delay.

1 comment:

  1. What a GREAT write up! Many thanks for sharing!! I have already contributed to the Kickstarter project and look forward to seeing what Brandon is able to create! I can't wait to get my yunomi for contributing. It is only recently I've learned of the yunomi, and look forward to learning more. I LOVE the ceramic community..always willing to help out fellow potters!! <3 <3