Incising clay adds a very personal touch
Potter Sarah Heimann has studied and worked across the country but came back to New Hampshire to settle in a red barn in Lebanon. The gentrified building is her home and three of the former cow stalls serve as her ceramics studio.
Working in batches, she throws a dozen or so bowls, vases or plates and keeps them ready in the "leather hard" stage by swaddling them in layers of plastic. At this point the clay has hardened enough to be stable, but the surface is soft enough to carve.
The surface decoration of pottery often comes from the play of heat on the surface during firing, but here
Heimann designs textures with a variety of carving tools meant for engraving and relief printing. Exposure to printmaking in graduate school inspired the concept of "dimensional prints."
Designs are pulled "from everywhere," she says. Many look like entwining plants or fossils moving around the form, giving life to the surface. No two are alike – but may be "cousins" as she works in series.
After carving and a bisque fire, she paints on slip glazes to define lines and rubs in darker glazes to enhance lines scratched into the surface. She even inscribes unseen parts to truly "finish" a piece – in every sense of the word.
Heimann's work is in collections across the country and she exhibits annually with the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston and the League of New Hampshire Craftmen Fair in August. Locally her work can be found at the Hanover League shop at 13 Lebanon St., where she also teaches ceramics.