filed under: art, artists, clay, miniviews
i immediately connected with these handcrafted ceramic pieces in ohio-based artist dominic falcione’s shop the moment i saw them. they’ve got everything i love in high quality craft: the organic, tactile appeal of clay, the handsome sculptural forms, and a bonus: an true function, in this case as a vase. i was intrigued by dominic’s etsy profile, which on first read seemed oddly out of sorts with what he has in his shop, because in it he claims that he is not a potter! how can you have a ceramics line and not be a potter? well, dominic can, and with great passion. and the path he’s traveled to get there seems to flow and glide along as fluidly as his thoughts about it all…
q: i see you’ve written in your profile on etsy that you have a metalsmithing and sculpture background. how did this all begin?
a: i never really built anything until i was about 21 years old. i was always more of an illustrator or painter. the first thing i really built was an iguana cage for my girlfriend at the time. i think it had a big impact on me because there were multiple elements to address about what an iguana cage is and how it needs to function â€“ like heat, air flow, humidity, lighting, accessibility, security, a variety of landscape elements, etc. at the time, we were pretty attached to that cool little iguana so it was very important to make a healthy environment for it as well as make the cage a piece of furniture, a functional centerpiece to a room that incorporated a design influenced by the life that the cage contained. i got hooked on that kind of alchemic design aesthetic.
i entered college after that experience to pursue what i have always done, illustration and painting, but eventually, i began to see some metal work that other students were doing and started taking 3D courses. i focused in metalsmithing because of the small, intimate, intricate and meticulous work that i loved about drawing and painting. for me, metalsmithing evolved into small sculptural objects and i started to incorporate other materials as part of a language with metals as a base. then i began sculpture courses to make larger fabrications with wood, plaster, etc. i stuck with sculpture for a while because there was no precedent of materials â€“ any material was part of the palette. sculpture gave me fabrication experience with materials and metalsmithing gave me experience in fabricating with precision and grace.
from all this, i gained the experience and word of mouth as someone who knew how to design and make things well, which landed me a full time job working with a local architectural fabricator/artist john comunale. i quit school and worked in his studio full time for five years building huge architectural signage, interior fixtures like lighting and furniture, and just odd miscellaneous stuff. usually big stuff.
q: so how did you get from this metalsmithing-sculpture combination to clay?
a: the experience at comunaleâ€™s took me away from conceptual work, or art for artâ€™s sake. art for artâ€™s sake was a lot of fun, but it was always expensive and very taxing for me personally in a lot of ways. that’s when i started to focus on functional work, more like art objects for the home or for an interior environment. i wanted my work to have a practical purpose. my work started to evolve from sculpture for shows and galleries, to sculpture for the home. the hardest thing i deal with as far as design aesthetics, simply because i just canâ€™t force myself to let go of it, is how to maintain the sculptural language of materials as the vehicle for concept in practical, functional art. thatâ€™s really where the bulb vases came in. i made a decision to limit myself to one platform, and i chose the vase.
i love the vase right now because it can be sculptural, ornamental, functional, and holds something that no human can really make â€“ a symbol of our size, understanding, and place in this infinite universe of mystery and wonder as well as a symbol of life and death.
to answer your question, i would have to say that i donâ€™t really look at it in that way. it is really just another addition to the palette. i try to use materials that make sense in the language of the object itself. it is an alchemic design approach, and the bulb vases are a successful example, for me, of that kind of harmonious design â€“ hence, harmonix craftworks. the materials, form and function of an object create a language. and, like words in a sentence, they must be symbiotic with each other to be cohesive and understood.
you can find dominic’s work and get in touch with him at his etsy shop.
thank you dominic!