Stacked Ceramic Totem Sculptures

During the month of February, I’ve been making some more experimental work. I’ve felt drawn to stacked ceramic totem sculptures as a form and method of arranging components which is entirely new for me.

Since I’m not quite sure how to execute larger ceramic totem sculptures, I decided to repurpose some table lamps that my husband and I were going to donate to our local thrift shop. The size and shape of the lamp base is perfect for a table top ceramic totem sculpture.

Table lamp base - repurposed for my stacked ceramic totem sculptures
Table lamp base – repurposed for my stacked ceramic totem sculptures

My husband kindly removed the electrical bits of the lamps and yesterday, I started to play with the placement of the ceramic bits that will make up the pair of sculptures. 

While, the minimal white of the components in the video is beautiful, I envision a more graphic composition. I’ll be working on the decoration today. Stay tuned.

After this firing cycle, I plan to work on a ceramic totem for my garden and think I have figured out how I will anchor it in the ground. There just doesn’t seem to be a ton of info out there, so I’m drawing on my experience in landscape design to figure out how to anchor the sculpture so that it does not topple during weather events.

Meanwhile, check out my Pinterest board where I’ve been collecting images of ceramic totems. 

What is a totem? 

“A totem (Ojibwe dodaem) is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe.”

While it is somewhat controversial for me to use the cultural term “totem” to describe my sculpture, it’s descriptive of a tall stacked sculpture and easily understood. I will need to really think about the language that I use as I finish my pieces in the future.

More appropriate terms include stacked ceramic sculpture, columnar sculpture, garden tower or garden stacks. Ultimately, I want to be thoughtful, respectful and deliberate.