Some of my mudlarking finds already put into use! While eyeing the Thames foreshore littered with clay pipe stems I made the decision to bring home a ton. I knew if I only picked up a few I’d end up using them on anything. Having a large quantity lowers the threshold of putting the finds into use remarkably. It also opens up the possibility of creating mixed media pieces using a ton at once, which I love! Today’s On the Shore piece is a very small one, but I still get a certain satisfaction in the repetition made possible by using multiples. I know I’ll end up making something larger with even more pipe stems once the holiday season is over.
(vintage photo, found antique clay pipe stems, gold leaf, paper, board, vintage ribbon)
7×12,7×1,1cm / 2.8″x5″x0.4″
I was happy to find just the photo for this piece in my collection – these two lovely ladies on a shore are just the perfect pairing for the finds I brought home from one, and the sepia tones go hand in hand with the river’s.
There’s something very pleasing about the pipe stems; each bit is different, more or less worn by the tides, more or less stained by the Thames mud (some clean off-white, some marbled blue, some orange-y brown), and the clay surface at once smooth and porous. At the bottom of the river shards of gorgeously painted pottery intermingle with the equivalent of modern day cigarette butts (and a ton of other junk + the occasional treasure). The pipes and the broken dishes are both of the same clay origin, but on the scale of femininity and masculinity they are worlds away. It’s likely a lot of these pipe stems came from the pipes of men at work and the painted pottery from a woman’s kitchen. In the centuries these pipe stems have spent in the river the world has changed a lot and the worlds of men and women have (thankfully!) begun to merge at a fast rate. Traditionally gilt rims were seen on the finer dishware, but I decided to add thin gilt rings around these found pipe stems. Perhaps as an attempt to bridge the gap between the femininity and masculinity, and the world now and then – perhaps simply because I find the combination of that beautiful off-white clay and gold leaf gilding just plain charming.
I hope to have an extra London blog post up for you in a day or two, and on Thursday it’s time for those bunny books I promised, so do come back soon!