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Elegant Ceramics

Emmanuelle creates handmade functional ceramic dinnerware and home wares using hand-built and wheel-thrown ceramic techniques. She believes that ceramic objects can be both utilitarian and ornate. Emmanuelle combines different techniques of texturing, carving, imprinting, and sculpting to cover her clay surfaces in lace and floral motifs. Drawing from found laces and fabrics, vintage Victorian/Rococo style, and local flora, she creates simple and elegant forms with decorative and embellished surfaces.

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“I create mementos, heirlooms that can last lifetimes.”

Lace fossil

The Lace Works

Since I was a child I always loved the lace. I would look for pictures in the intricate weaving and find patterns that mirror the natural world. Tree branches, flowers, and spiderwebs would loop and curl before me, making a whole realm of possibilities. Lace is described as feminine, soft, ornate, and fragile, yet lace can represent whole time periods. Depending on the country of origin, the period, or the method of weaving, laces that look similar have very different imagery and forms. Some are more refined, while others are more vibrant and bold. One can follow the history of fashion and industry through the making and manufacturing of lace. From the medieval lace of kings to the lace on a Christian Dior gown, lace is a symbol of beauty, wealth, and tradition. Before machine made lace the specialized art of weaving lace was passed down in families for generations. And when lace became more easily manufactured by machine, designers and fashion houses began creating their own status symbols, unique patterns that only they use. The history of the lace is our history. For that reason, I impress lace into clay to create my plates.

Fabrics will fade, yellow, and fall apart but a ceramic plate lasts 10,000 years. By impressing the lace into clay, I create a fossil of that place, that object, that time, like putting a memory in stone and holding that beauty and moment. I create mementos, heirlooms that can last lifetimes.

I create a canvas of simple forms and shapes for my plates so that the lace is the focus of the piece. I then highlight the lace with a glaze. Certain glazes complement certain clays. The breaking of colorful glazes over the impressed lace pattern reveals and accentuates the natural surface and beauty of the clay underneath. Together the lace texture, clay, and glaze, form a unique piece that captures a moment in time.

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The Floral Works

My mother is a master gardener, but I have a brown thumb. Though I do not have a talent for growing plants, I have always been drawn to them. I love their colors, shapes, their changing forms from bud to blossom, and the fact that most of them are temporary forms, waning and waxing with the seasons. For me, they have always been a symbol of my mother. She not only made her garden grow, but nurtured me to grow into the beautiful, intelligent, and compassionate woman I am today. I may not be able to grow flowers, like my mother, but my ceramics are my way of making them. Through my art I create my own green thumb, the way I make the world a more beautiful and better place.

 Like the Rococo and Baroque artists of Meissen and Sevres, I see flowers as symbols of life and beauty. I use porcelain and white stoneware with no grog for my floral pieces because the clay is moldable. I can create thin petals and intricate forms of flowers without having to worry about cracking and breaking. I also decorate with a variety of under-glazes to match the natural coloring of the flowers, trying to make them as real as I can.   

The Artist

Emmanuelle Wambach hails from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She grew up in a multicultural and multiracial family that valued art and creativity as essential.

Inspired by her mother’s love of flowers and gardening, Emmanuelle combines different techniques of texturing, carving, glazing and under glazing to create slab-built lace plates and one-of-a-kind decorative floral pieces. Since she was a small child, Emmanuelle learned about traditional women’s handicrafts and flowers from her mother. It wasn’t until adulthood that she realized how interested she was in these activities. While her mother has a green thumb and the patience to create intricate fiber works, Emmanuelle’s thumb is brown, and she is all thumbs with involved fiber arts. By making ceramic flowers and lace forms in clay Emmanuelle has found her own way to create gardens and intricate textile textures while honoring the arts her mother taught her.