Fine American Craftsmanship
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Bonnie Belt

A fascination with nature and trees has pervaded most of my 25-year career in art. I studied ceramics in college: later studied Chinese brush painting, from which I learned the subtleties of brushwork and the Chinese philosophy that influences my work. 
I try to capture the drama and movement of the windswept trees of my coastal surroundings. I especially love the cypress trees, the way they tenaciously hang onto the edges of cliffs, bent by the wind, and yet they are still growing. They express the enduring-yet fragile-existence of nature.

That tenacity is what collectors appreciate in my work, regardless of geography. These tree, bird and wave forms are universal.  

The thrown vessels balance the tight realism of the sculptures. I like the contrast of the formal form of the pot with the tree or bird clinging to it. It's a metaphor for the difference between the man-made and the natural.

Each sculpture is hand formed on the potters wheel from 100% white clay. Every piece is individually sculpted using clay coils to form the tree and branch forms. The "trees" are attached to the piece using clay slip and left to dry slowly. Once completely dried the sculpture is bisqued fired to cone 04. The piece is then carefully painted and air-brushed with a clay based underglaze and fired to cone 3. After the sculpture is cool, torn pieces of paper are attached to the form to create highlights when the piece is smoke fired in a galvanized can containing redwood needles and leaves. 
Finally the piece is sealed with an acrylic sealer to preserve the smoke finish. Some pieces are glazed on the interior to hold water, others are painted with a cold finish gold paint to silhouette the tree form. 
My most recent work is expanding on this nature theme with bird and wave motifs. I have chosen the heron for its elegant look and serene personality. The "wave" pieces are inspired by the Japanese master of woodcut prints, Hokusai, expecially his Mt. Fuji wave print.  
Each sculpture is individually boxed for easy handling and transportation, includes a "care of sculpture" insert. 

I'm using my background in Chinese Brush Painting to individually hand brush paint my slab and handformed on the potter's wheel dinnerware. My functional ceramic work uses the Chinese "four gentlemen", bamboo, plum blossom, grass orchid and chrysanthemum designs painted and sprayed with a clear glaze. The painting is waxed to resist the colored glaze and the entire piece is then dipped in a durable high-fired, food-safe, microwave and dishwasher safe glaze. The piece is fired in the kiln to 2151 degrees and left to cool. Some mugs and flat pieces have an applied 100% silicone, non-skid base.