The Story Behind the Jugs

It began as an experiment of cutting plastic milk jugs in the studio. Once cut, Sean added sprayed abstract shocks of color. Later, these cut creations would be transformed with soil, cactus, and succulents and set on tabletops in the lobby/lounge of The Line Hotel.

Inspired by the work of Dutch designer and artist Foekje Fleur (pronounced FECK-yuh Fluhr), Sean had featured her ceramic soap bottles in his rooms at The Line. In her pieces, Fleur used a kind of ceramic that would have a feel and texture similar to the sunlight stressed surfaces of the discarded bottles she collected by the Maas river in Rotterdam.

In his own reimagining of the plastic container, Sean wanted to push the concept even further. By casting the milk jug into raku-style pottery, Sean does some Dadaist playing with context, values, culture, and more.

What is less apparent is that the raku jug also contains references to the influence of one of Sean's seminal mentors. When just out of his teenage years, Sean worked with designer and manufacturer Carl Gillberg (1941-2012). The self-taught Gillberg was able to work masterly in variety of materials including bronze, steel, glass, and wood in addition to being a master potter. Some of the work Gillberg was best known for were his monumental pots, some reaching heights of almost seven feet. To fire these gargantuan pots, Gillberg built his own heroic-scaled kiln which was lowered over the pots by a cable.

Gillberg was also expert in raku finishing techniques, doing much experimentation with the form and even inventing some of his own. Raku (a Japanese word meaning joy or happiness) was developed in the 16th century Japan with earlier threads going back to China. In its modern Western application of the process, the work is removed from the kiln while red hot and subjected to post-firing reduction (or smoking) by being placed in containers with combustible materials (newspaper, cardboard, saw dust, pine needles, peat moss) and a reduced amount of oxygen. The smoke interacts with the slips and oxides (for color) on the pot's surface. For more crackling in the texture, or crazing as it's called, water is spritzed onto the hot clay.

Today, Gillberg's studio is run by his widow Chantal with the help of Gillberg's protégés. (As part of the extraordinary web that is Sean's social network, Chantal was once married to Sean's father.) One of the protégés, Julio, had worked with Gillberg for 30 years.

The proof, of course, is in the quality of the work. As you can see, the pieces are exquisite and worthy of the master himself.

 

The handmade jugs-vases-planters are available in a variety of solid colors, metallic finishes, and raku style treatments. Each piece is a one of a kind object.