Trained as a painter and printmaker and entirely self-taught in ceramics, Brooklyn-based artist Cody Hoyt lets his experience with the two-dimensional inform his sculptural work. "When it comes to my process, I still feel like I'm living in a two-dimensional world," he says. "I'm finding a voice in three-dimensional form." Best known for his faceted ceramic vessels made of intricately patterned clay slabs, his latest body of work, currently on view at Patrick Parrish Gallery, includes his first foray into table design.
"I haven't done anything like this before," he told me in a recent email. To make it happen, he developed an intricate technique of pigmented, cut, and inlaid clay. Below, Hoyt takes us step-by-step through his process.
Hoyt started out his Flat Earth table by building up concentric circles of colored clay on a pottery wheel. He takes the resulting disc and slices through it horizontally to expose the precise cross-section hidden inside. Once the clay is dry, it gets placed into the kiln—but its survival is not guaranteed beyond this point. Firing is "a natural process and the work is subject to this sort of 'final judgment,'" he says. "A lot of things break, and a lot of things get weird and change."
In this case, things went wrong but the process didn't end there. "I painstakingly replaced every shard and broken piece back into the original form," he explained. "Once everything had been put back the way it was, I took a step back and thought about my life and choices I've made."
From there, he prepares to cast the piece in resin by taping up the remaining cracks. "The tape 'stops' the resin from bleeding everywhere," he says. "I put 'stops' in quotations because it doesn't work. Once the resin has cured, I remove all the tape and polish the fuck out of the newly Frankensteined slab of fired ceramic," he continues. "I use a Makita wet grinder and start with 80 grit and go up to around 800 or 1000. The surface gets very silky-smooth like marble and is irresistible to touch."
To make the Poincaré table, Hoyt first maps out a hyperbolic tessellation on two slabs of wet clay. "Then I cut out all the pieces and swap 'em together," he says. "Doing it this way I end up with two complete patterns."
After the clay gets fired, each piece shrinks by about 11%. The shrunken edges create a gap that Hoyt fills with epoxy. "I transfer the pattern piece-by-piece from the kiln shelf onto a plastic surface, cleaning up edges as I go," he says. "Then I dam it up with clay in preparation for an epoxy fill."
He mixes stainless steel powder into the epoxy to give the final result a metallic quality, seen in the detail shot above. By keeping the edges irregular, "the pattern nods at infinity. It goes in all directions," he explains.
The legs of both tables are made from stacks of colored clay that have been cut down to the proper shape and length. "The leather-hard clay legs get routed out so they have a hollow core. After the clay is dry and fired I put a threaded rod through the length of the leg and fill it with epoxy. After a lot of careful measuring and cutting, the legs can be screwed into the base in 3 places."
Both tables are included in the show at Patrick Parrish, alongside several new ceramic vessels and a series of intricate wall works inspired by the nine-square grid and made using the same inlaid techniques.
"Full Time, Non Primitive" is on view at Patrick Parrish Gallery through April 14, 2019.