Racine-Montelimar 50th Anniversary Gift

A Gift to Racine's Sister City

Througout the 50-year history of the Racine-Montélimar sister city relationship, several unique and mutually benefiting exchanges have occurred. As part of the 2006 celebration, I was commissioned to create a 50th anniversary gift for the Montélimar delegation.

The Creation of the Anniversary Gift

From time to time throughout my career as a potter, the acorn has been a great inspiration for my work. For 25 years, I've employed the acorn form in a variety of pieces including salt-fired vases, casserole dishes, covered jars and a recent pit-fired acorn installation on an art gallery floor. My backyard has two majestic and venerable old oak trees, and it is hard not to be influenced by the abundance of acorns under my feet.

For this commission, I have returned to the acorn as a symbolic representation of the Racine-Montélimar 50th Anniversary Celebration gift. I chose to use the acorn because the oak tree is common to both of our countries. Like the mighty oak, which comes from the tiny acorn, our sister city relationship started small and continues to grow. This relationship is symbolized by the oak branches and leaves on the pedestal of the gift. The three acorns placed around the pedestal also portray the Racine-Montélimar Sister City 50th Anniversary Celebrations; they depict tiny seeds that possess great potential for both of our cities.

The acorn reminds us that great results are born of humble beginnings. Acorns and oak trees have been revered by many of the earth's civilizations for whom they symbolize wisdom, truth, strength, birth, and fruitfulness. Aristotle held the acorn in highest regard, claiming it to be the greatest symbol of potentiality.

Alex Mandli
Alex throws the acorn form on the potter's wheel. A drawing of the acorn form precedes the creation of the acorn forms. Alex throws the pedestals on the potter's wheel. Pedestals, thrown upside down, dry on a shelf. Once the parts are dry enough to handle, they are placed back on the wheel and the excess clay is trimmed away. When the pieces are hard enough to hold their shape, they are burnished and polished three times with an agate. After burnishing, the pedestals are ready for decoration.
Notice the sister cities anniversary logo impressed into the pedestal.
At this point, the pieces are ready to be sprayed with 3-4 coats of terra sigillata, which is very fine particles of clay.
After the 3-4 coats of terra sigillata, the pieces are polished three more times with a chamois.
The pieces are then bisque-fired.
Notice the detail on the bisque-fired pieces.
With the gas kiln in the background, the pots and saggars are displayed.
A pot is packed with combustible materials in a saggar.
The first saggar firing produced unacceptable results. Many of the components were refired an additional 5-7 times.
The pieces are polished three more times on a buffing wheel before they are complete.
The pedestal is polished on a buffing wheel.
This is the finished acorn-inspired piece.