Ceramics by Mark Ahlstrand 
What an amazing material!

You can stick your thumb into a ball of clay and a vessel is created - it can be as simple as that.  It's a completely malleable material and will duplicate even the finest texture stamped into it.  Than later, as the clay dries it becomes progressively more carvable, allows you to add to it as you need to or want to and add various coloring agents to it.  No other material allows the ease of manipulation and range of expression that clay does.  Then perhaps the most amazing quality of all is that by simply heating it it becomes as hard as rock and retains all of the shapes and textures that you've inflicted on it or lovingly caressed into it. Amazing!  No wonder that over the years no matter what I'm doing, studying, or working on I've always come back to clay for both a creative outlet and to relax. 

Most of my work is organic and often free-form and is accented with bas relief or three-dimensional carved detailing.  The pieces are generally hand-built ceramic pieces of slab or coil construction, featuring the natural folds, cracks and textures of the material. Where I've used a potters wheel it is usually only to make parts of a piece that need to fit tightly together as with a flange and cover.  

You may see African, Asian and American Indian influences in many of these pieces, I've made an effort to try to incorporate elements of design and form from other cultures into my work.   

I'm currently working on bowls with carved bas-relief covers and larger jars featuring bas-relief carving to compliment the natural slab construction.  You can see some of these pieces in the "Sculpted Vessels" and the "Big Organic Jars" sections.

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