Friday, May 22, 2015

Enshrined: Musings on the Shrine

Survey of my sculptural ceramic shrines; old and new. 
1: to enclose in or as if in a shrine
2: to preserve or cherish as sacred

1. a : a case, box, or receptacle; especially : one in which sacred relics (as the bones of a saint) are deposited
b : a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity : sanctuary
c : a niche containing a religious image
2: a receptacle (as a tomb) for the dead
3: a place or object hallowed by its associations
Sculptural ceramic shrines in progress for an upcoming firing/workshop. 

I build shrines. I want to create a special space, apart, and elevated in importance to house objects. I often enshrine natural objects, and things that have symbolic meaning to me personally or in a larger mythic/cultural context. Last week and this week I have designed and constructed more ceramic shrine forms than in the entirety of last year. (Thats a guess, but I'm 75% sure its accurate.) Why the "creative frenzy"? I have signed up to do a workshop at month's end, where I will be wood firing and salt glaze/firing 20-30 pieces. That's quite a lot for me... 

But it has had me reflecting on the shrine idea... its an idea I return to again and again in sculpture and in jewelry. This first piece was a reversible mixed media locket of sorts. It was themed around research I had done into my German heritage and the town of Stade, where my maternal ancestors originated. ( Done for Tesori Trovati's "Challenge of Travel" it is on my blog in detail.)
My heritage/history piece: copper, mica, paper, resin, map, key, micro beads, tube rivets, micro bolts. 

Since I have been working in polymer these last few years I have tried my hand using that medium in a similar fashion. I have recently been experimenting with a few new ways of fabricating shrines in polymer - Ill share those soon.
Polymer shrine pendants showcasing Italian Tarot images from the late 1800's.
There are many artists that conceptually share the "Shrine" concept that appeals to me  - from metal clay, traditional metals/fabrication to mixed media/found objects. Let me take you on a brief tour of inspiration.

Jen Crossley - "A Mark in Time" blog

I haven't had the good fortune to meet Jen in her teaching travels when she is in the States from her native Australia, but I hope to some day. I love the sense of age and mystery that comes form integrating found objects into new pieces. I also find the book form a very meaningful and potent symbol. 
Jen Crossley: Found Object Compositions.

Christi Anderson: "Elemental Adornments"

Thank you Pinterest for taking me here. I am in awe. What else is there to say?! I an fascinated with enclosures, and the revel/conceal contrast. The wearer holds the secrets, the knowledge, and can choose to share that with the viewer. Or not... 

Christi Anderson: "Garden of Good and Evil"

Michael Thee: Michael Thee Studio

A more modern industrial look, and some tongue in cheek humor. Again the reverse reveals a hidden message...
Michael Thee: "Start Something"

Dana Stenson: "Dreams in Metal" blog

From Dana's site: "...that this necklace will be included in Showcase 500 Art Necklaces, being released this summer by Lark Publishing!  I am so happy to be included in this wonderful collection.  The locket was created as a portrait of my great-grandmother, Georgia Helen Griffith.  She was was an independent, college-educated woman who traveled to Jamaica in 1890 as a Quaker missionary.  The materials in the locket include etched copper, sterling, sapphire, garnet, and found objects; elements are hand fabricated and lost wax cast.  Above the antique map on the back of the locket is the Quaker star. "

Dana Stenson: "Portrait of my Grandmother"

Wanaree Tanner: Tanner/Teiken  Again - this piece is a locket and a shrine. I can't find the words. So stunning. 

Wanaree Tanner: "Year of the Dragon"

Thanks for taking that tour with me. I am always striving to present a cohesive body of work from shrines to decorative tiles to jewelry. I see a series of shrine pendants in my future, echoing motifs in my tiles... And I have wanted to do shrine structures with removable/wearable pieces for years!

I look forward to what ever future inspiration brings!


  1. What beautiful pieces, thank you so much for sharing these and I really look forward to seeing how your shrines turn out!

  2. Great pieces here and I look forward to seeing your wood fired work and how it crosses into you jewellery design.

  3. Great post Jenny. It will be fun to see what you create from this.

  4. Very interesting post. What beautiful pieces you found to illustrate the concept. Now you have me intrigued. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you create next.


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