From the Functional to the Stand-Alone
Before Judith Lemmens of Julems Ceramics left for the Netherlands for a year with her family, she completed a limited edition capsule collection of new Torus sculptures. Named after the mathematical term for the shape, Judith conceptualized the design last year for the Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival. We displayed (and sold!) them in our windows for what became a Covid-friendly experience that the Festival created across 18 shops when they couldn't hold the event as usual.
The new set of 4 (sold out!) are each OOAK. A complex shape, the rims of two "bowls" must be joined forming a hollow ring. Judith wanted to keep pushing her technical and design skills with these donut vases and during some downtime in the throws of the pandemic in 2020, she explored the Torus. "The hole represented an emptiness, an unknown, a divide, an incompleteness, like something that was lost, like an attack on our wholeness—all the things that COVID-19 forced upon us," Judith writes. "But I could also see the healing part, thus the working title Make Whole came to mind and the concept started to take root."
As she wrote for Pottery Making Illustrated, she begins by throwing on the wheel, taking 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 pounds of clay and working it into shape. She opens up the center, splits the clay in half, then opens the center again to create two thick walls that will be pulled up separately from each other. The technical skills to maneuver the clay, work the contours and achieve the symmetry is awe-inspiring. The process continues, pushing the walls to meet each other and shaping the clay to develop the form further, as well as throwing foot rings and spouts to attach, depending on the style of each piece and adding surface design.
Judith's design and glazing aesthetic is informed by her background as an interior designer turned graphic designer-illustrator, now ceramicist, and an upbringing around Dutch design. Her style ranges from subtle to bold looks, while always staying true to her aesthetic of simplicity in shape, color and graphics–geometrics and elements in nature.
"Glazing these shapes is not like glazing regular pots since there is technically no inside and outside," Judith explains. "The true inside is typically invisible and/or unglazed in closed forms. And the outside merges from the front—through the hole—to the back of the piece."
The torus is an interesting shape to explore and we're so lucky that Judith pushed her design skills to make a new capsule collection for us to feature during her absence here in Mill Valley.
These are truly limited as we have only 1 of each of the designs above for your functional (spouts or openings for flowers) or decorative, sculptural, and conceptual aesthetic. Come see them in person or click through the images to see and learn more or purchase online.
Cool how math can be so expressive, hey?
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey