Advent challenge 11 – Marguerite Brennan


pig cup

For seven years, I played with clay at the New Jersey Centre for Visual Arts under the gentle guidance of Marguerite Brennan. Marguerite is a an incredibly creative ceramic artist. She specializes in hand building techniques so there is always a slight quirkiness about her pieces. One of the techniques she taught in her classes is the “burrito” mug, which is basically a way of wrapping a slab of clay around a cylinder, adding a base and folding the edges burrito style to seal the bottom.

Marguerite became a a good friend. Her creativity and technical expertise is amazing. When she renovated her own kitchen, she created tiles that are a perfect fit for the space. When you have worked in clay, you realize how difficult it is to make hand molded tiles that are a consistent size without having extra space to fill in. Clay shrinks about 12% in the drying and firing process, so you have to have a pretty good grasp of how it behaves to make a tile in wet clay that will be the right size when it is fired. And you have to make sure that the clay you use throughout has about the same consistency and water content to get a consistent result.

I own two of her pieces. A butter dish with a cover that looks like a sarcophogas, with an Anubis head on it, inspired by her Australian cattle dog. The other is a decorative tile with a bat in bas relief, given to me when my spirits were at a low, because bats are symbols of good luck in the Chinese culture.
I just love this mug with its cute pig.

Snap it up before I do.
Christmas: any of Marguerite’s pieces. Or keep it in the family by buying brother-in-law, Tom Waites’ music.