I’m so excited about these new carvings that I am posting pictures of green, freshly carved pots.

I was recently in Santa Barbara, visiting a family member and once again, I saw a lot of kelp washed up.washed up kelp "rope"

Last time I saw it in the water while looking down from the pier. floating kelp It is most likely giant kelp which grows several inches per day!

This time I was struck by the almost formal arrangements that lay in the sand.

formal kelp arrangement

They reminded me of bookplate designs in old books.

When I got home, I looked at photos online taken by people who were swimming amongst the kelp forests.

The difference between beach-bound kelp and underwater kelp is that the blades (or leaves) are floating every which way. Additionally, the blades are often ripped away by the time the kelp has washed up leaving only the rubbery stem and bladders.

In the (extremely copyrighted) underwater photos, you can also see the overlapping as the leaves are actually slightly transparent and although I couldn’t replicate that translucent quality, still, I was really happy with the result.

open vase with kelp decoopen vase versoYou’ll also note that I’ve taken pains to make my carving marks as watery and curvy and flowing as the vase kelp

I tried to capture that feeling of motion; the swaying back and forth with the currents and surf.


I think what makes this pleasing to me and also creates good visual tension, movement and balance is the contrast between these wildly unpredictable twisting and flowing forms  and the dependable regularity of the spacing between each bladder where it comes out from the stem- each one continuing on into a blade. I know there is some correct botanical  term for this…

2nd vase detail

Okay, so I looked up Kelp on Wikepedia I found this:

In most kelp, the thallus (or body) consists of flat or leaf-like structures known as blades. Blades originate from elongated stem-like structures, the stipes. [that’s the word I was looking for!] ……. Gas-filled bladders (pneumatocysts) form at the base of blades of American species….and keep the kelp blades close to the surface, holding up the blades by the gas they contain.

and most interesting to me and other potters :

Through the 19th century, the word “kelp” was closely associated with seaweeds that could be burned to obtain soda ash (primarily sodium carbonate)….The word “kelp” was also used directly to refer to these processed ashes.

and what do you know?  The slip that into which I carved the images of Kelp on contains Soda Ash!!

So I can’t wait until these are fired stay tuned!

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