Performing-turned-visual artist Karin Abromaitis. PHOTO CREDIT: JIM BURGER
“There is something about the way clay rises between my hands when I am at the wheel that I can only describe as magical,” says artist Karin Abromaitis. After 20 years in performing arts, Abromaitis discovered that clay was the “missing piece” in her creative life, the force that provides a serene outlet for her considerable artistic talents.
Abromaitis began working in clay in 1995 and her passion for it has never waned. As her style developed, she found that working with metals in combination with the clay allowed her to execute more sophisticated and original design concepts, such as her signature Window Bowls.
“Window Bowls are the result of my investigation of light,” Abromaitis explains. “I wanted to know how a vessel could contain light, how it could offer or release light and allow the interior of the vessel to be visible.” From this beginning, she writes, a lengthy, multi-step discovery process emerges:
“The bowls are thrown on a potter’s wheel and, at the right moment of dryness, the ‘windows’ are cut out. Multiple coats of terra sigillatta (an ultra-refined clay slip) and two rounds of careful burnishing come next. The bowls are then either packed in sawdust in a protective fireclay box (saggar) to attain a jet-black effect in the electric kiln, or packed with sawdust and other materials and pit-fired for a mottled finish.
“Next the bowls are cleaned and primed for the application of metallic leafing (either copper or silver); the leafing is applied and then sealed. In the final step, various elements are suspended in the windows. These can range from organic found objects to semi-precious stones or fabricated silver or copper sculptures.”
The luminous finished pieces, along with her jewelry designs, were exceptionally well received at this year’s American Made Show in Washington, DC. Abromaitis’s work can be seen in wholesale and retail venues, and at major fine arts festivals throughout the year.