John L Richard's exploration of strong geometric forms in porcelain creates CubistWare.

Wisconsin artist John L Richard was actually a Wantoot client, before we started representing his work. Over the last several years, John would stop in with and his wife, during the festive Saturday Gallery Nights in Mineral Point. He would often collect a piece of pottery, or a piece of art jewelry. One Sunday afternoon this spring, John appeared with a plastic tote bin in hand. He explained that a mutual friend, potter Bruce Howdle suggested we talk. He wanted to show us his new passion: exploring forms molded in porcelain, that he creates individually using mini plaster bricks. He opened the tote: we were hooked.

John employs a technique called slip casting. This technique isn’t new or novel, in fact your toilet may have been made using a slip cast technique. It’s normally used to mass-produce ceramics (like toilets) or to create limited edition objects. What’s unique about John’s use is that each mold is unique. He creates a mold with his small blocks, and literally holds them together with rubber bands. After the porcelain has hardened, he is able to take the mold apart—and the form is lost forever. So although he is able to approximately make a piece again, he can’t do it perfectly, because he is starting with a new original mold every time.

John has a particular affinity for the strong geometric shapes and subtle variation in lines created by variations in the plaster bricks that he is able to obtain using this technique. We dubbed the pieces “CubistWare”—-and he thinks it’s the perfect name. He is continually exploring different shapes and forms and how they interplay with functional pottery forms like cups, vases and bowls. Every piece John makes with this technique is one-of-a-kind. White and black glazes are designed to highlight the forms and subtle mold lines. Our selection of pieces in the gallery and online is updated frequently and is constantly changing. See John's work here.