The Incredible Story of Sisters Slipworks

Just kidding! It's an absolutely credible story of a guy who leaves his teaching career at the tail end of the pandemic, determined to re-center his life around making art. With this website I'm happy to announce the launch of Sisters Slipworks, right here in Sisters, Oregon!

The various ways of working with clay include coil building, constructing with slabs, pinching, and wheel throwing, to name a few. However, it is the process of mold making and slip-casting that has fascinated me for many years. "Slip" in this context refers to clay that takes the form of a pourable liquid, thanks to the magic of "deflocculants" added to batch of casting slip during the mixing stage. Deflocculants work their charm by imparting electrical charges to clay particles, making them repel each other. Plaster molds, in turn, have the ability to wick the water content from the casting slip, establishing clay walls wherever slip contacts plaster...

This year I've designed and produced a series of mugs for drinking. The creation and refinement of prototypes accounts for a major part of the time spent completing the finished work that you'll find here at my online store. Once I'm satisfied with an original form, I can make multiple molds and begin the relatively fast-paced activity of production. Of course there's still glazing and firing to be done. Ceramics requires a great deal of patience.

I prefer to think of the objects that I produce as small, tactile sculptures, addressing various formal elements of design – with the added benefit of functionality. If I've succeeded, the forms will beg you to fit your hands into the negative spaces; to visit and revisit the miracle of touch.

LEFT: Marlowe inspects the plaster molds.

  • Handle prototype

    The process begins.

  • Finished handle prototype

    Next step is to make a plaster mold of the prototype.

  • Mold making

    The handle prototype is embedded in a soft clay slab. Small funnel-like pieces are added; these will allow pouring in and draining out of the casting slip.

  • Walls

    Walls are built, to contain the plaster that will become one-half of the handle mold. (The walls looks marbled because I've reused various types of clay over and over for mold making).

  • Half way there!

    Clay is removed. After cleaning up the first half of the plaster mold, walls will be rebuilt and the second half of the mold completed.

  • Voila!

    Just like in those cooking shows where the fully baked Lasagna magically appears, with no explanation of the interim steps!