Thesis show confronts the uncertain

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 10:39 PM

“Collaborative Movement.” It’s a name that could be interpreted in many ways, yet for Brandon Lipe, it’s something both personal and professional.

Finishing his master’s of fine arts degree in ceramics, Lipe described both his thesis show and pieces in great detail, saying that certain achieved effects, like streaking, are based on uncertainty with elements added during what is referred to as atmospheric firing.

“Collaborative” refers to himself and the topic of uncertainty; in regard to post-firing results, it refers to working together.

“Movement” refers to altering both the tops and bottoms of the pots he creates, which could be seen as what Lipe calls “rolling” vases and jars, both large and small. When he does this, he mentioned that he likes to group them together since they look “like a nice little family.”

Lipe considers himself a certain and level-headed person, yet decided to add the element of uncertainty as it creates a uniqueness about his work.

“It helps me realize that not everything is in your control,” he said.

Beginning his undergraduate career at California State University Fullerton as a graphic design major, he took an elective course involving ceramics as a senior. This is what propelled him to where he is today, despite the challenges of working full-time and changing focuses.

“I was hooked since then,” he said.

He also prefers soda firing, a type of atmospheric firing in which sodium bicarbonate is added.

“You can test a lot more things,” he said, stating that it also adds color vibrancy and involves less preparation time. Based on estimation, he said that his show was comprised of about 90 percent soda fired items.

Some effects that could be noticed, such as streaking, are caused by melting ash.

He also uses microcrystal glazes in his work, which creates unique color effects through slow cooling in an atmospheric kiln. He even adds watered-down clay, or slip, to pieces such as plates and cups to create ridges, an aesthetic choice resembling scenes of nature, including sand dunes, snow and so on.

He tries to not set too many goals for himself, but the one that he is focused on most right now is “to have a recognizable body of work.”

There are also no heavy concepts at play, as he wants to keep it lighthearted and fun.

“I definitely think that art reflects the maker,” he said, while stating that he’s worked in the studio seven days a week for three years. In this time, he’s been experimenting with different glazes and making his own, preferring the satin-matte effect.

This project started about two years ago, and it has given him the opportunity to slow down and consider the joy and happiness working with ceramics gives him. He’s willing to share this with others through both look and functionality, including through elevating mundane tasks such as eating and drinking.

He typically avoids giving his pieces specific names in order to make them more approachable to customers.

More of Lipe’s work can be seen on his website,, and on his Instagram under b.lipe_ceramics.

Amber Chisholm |

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