From the day I first walked into the ceramic studio as an undergraduate student, clay has captivated me with the possibilities of combining the 3-D form with 2-D imagery. My work is a portal into the ever-changing natural world of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Using sgraffito to interpret different species of birds, fish, insects and plants on functional and sculptural porcelain forms I hope to bring to the user/viewer an awareness and appreciation of the variety of interdependent life that surrounds us.
My forms use a mid-range porcelain clay body and are either thrown or handbuilt. After sketching the design on the form I use a mishima technique carving recessed lines into the leatherhard clay before painting on 2-3 layers of black underglaze. I then use a technique called sgraffito carving away the black to reveal the drawing. Slip trailed lines might then be added. After bisque firing (1855 degrees) the interior of the forms are glazed and fired to cone 6 (2232 degrees).
Artist Shirley Gromen received a BFA at MICA in Baltimore and her MFA in ceramics at The Ohio State University. She worked as a graphic designer for many years before returning to the ceramic studio. Her works are as functional as they are beautiful, and they are a constant reminder of the beauty found on the coastline and in the seas.