Nesting Instincts

I was inspired to make this series of ceramic bird’s nests after learning of several ceramic artists using fabric dipped in slip (liquid clay) to create sculptural pieces. I have always been moved by the beauty and artistry in nature. So, when I found a nest on the ground I thought; if a person wove this I would be amazed by the craftsmanship, how much more incredible is it that this was made by a bird? I wondered if the same principals would apply to dipping a bird’s nest in slip as to fabric.

It took me 6 months after dipping the first nest in slip to get brave enough to fire it. Leaving organic matter in clay is contrary to what I was taught about ceramics. I had always understood that there couldn’t be debris or air bubbles inside the clay or the piece would explode in the kiln. After much research I finally ran the bisque firing very slowly letting it soak at a low temperature overnight before ramping up the temperature. I opened the kiln the next day to find a very delicate nest, now made completely out of hollow ceramic tubes. The grasses and sticks that made the original nest had burned away.

I was in awe. In their bisque form they can hardly be handled as they are so fragile. I spray a thinned glaze onto them since dipping them in a glaze would cause them to crumble. After the glaze firing they are far more stable though still very breakable.

As a contrast to the hard edges of the clay I have needle felted eggs from wool in a representation of those that the nests would have protected.

I enclosed them in acrylic display cases on handmade wooden basees to protect them as they travel to your home.

I hope you enjoy the wonderful craftsmanship of the birds that made these beautiful nests and the artistic touch that I have added.