When we discovered Cliff Mendelson and his “Day In Clay” signature program, we thought it was something our Mitzvah Market readers would want to know about.
Your guests will be amazed as a lump of clay is transformed into a beautiful work of art right before their eyes at your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah!
We spoke with artist Cliff Mendelson and learned more:
MM: Please describe what you do.
CM: As a ceramic artist, I create one of kind custom vessels on the potter’s wheel at events like Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, fundraisers and corporate events.
Cliff is explaining to young guests at a Mitzvah what he will be creating
I commemorate a moment in time in clay. Your finished piece can be a centerpiece bowl, vase or platter, displayed in a showcase or as a wall hanging. Prior to the event we will consult on the selection and personalization of the final design. This includes your choice of vessel (platter, bowl, vase, etc.) color, images, and inscriptions.
The pieces are painted on site using a variety of colored liquid clays called under glazes. The immediate family/host and/or guests literally inscribe a signature, images, symbols, and writings into fresh wet clay form. This leaves an indelible mark inlaid into the clay.
Guests watch as the artist takes a lump of clay and transforms it into a beautiful piece of artwork
This is taken back to my studio to be glazed and fired at 2000 degrees. Some customization happens on site and later in my studio depending on what would best commemorate that particular day. This can include some words, poetry or prose, photo transfers or a poignant significant image.
This piece will live on and become a real keepsake for those to pass down as an heirloom for generations. It can be hung or used as a functional piece of ceramic in your home.
The Bat Mitzvah girl’s Grandmother signs the new piece of artwork
MM: How would this work at a Bar or Bat Mitzvah?
CM: The Signature Program is tailored to fit the function and time constraints of your event. It can be as short as 20 minutes or as long as an hour. The space is set up with an electric potter’s wheel, floor protection, and my underglaze colors.
This can take place in a side niche or on the main floor. Everyone gathers around in a semi-circle with the guest of honor by my side. I also have disposable smocks for those that come up to sign the pot or actually work on the wheel with me as you see in the photos of the participating guest on the potters wheel with my assistance. That is a very exciting interactive part as well. It is usually accompanied by beautiful music as I create a large piece of art from a lump of clay. Once the piece is painted and decorated it is ready for the signing process. It is placed on a pedestal for those to sign. Sometimes the guests will sign a scroll type piece that can hold more signatures than the vessel. The piece remains for those to view and photos are taken. I also bring a backup piece that needs to be signed as well in the event that one of the pieces does not survive the firing process for one reason or another.
MM: Please explain the difference between the artist demo and the video demo.
CM: The artist demonstration happens live at the event as described above with the artist working live on site. Another alternative is that the piece is made in my studio and videotaped and played at the event on a monitor or screen. There is no live performance with this scenario. This eliminates set-up time and space requirements. I bring that piece with me for signatures. All pieces will be taken back to my studio to be finished. This includes additional inscriptions as required, trimming, glazing, and firing.
MM: Have you recently done this at any Bar or Bat Mitzvahs?
CM: Yes, the audience was totally captured by the performance. There were 160 people who attended. Included guests were 90 boys and girls, whom all wanted to sign. So a scroll was added so her friends could partake in the signing as well as the vessel signed by the hosts and family and relatives. As a professional artist, teacher, and potter, I am experienced in discussing the process as it takes place, answering questions, and making the entire live experience a unique and unexpected part of the event.
End result: The finished piece will signify and record the history of that special day as a true artistic keepsake. Your guests will take pleasure as they witness the speed and delicacy of the process that unfolds. The finished piece is an instant heirloom that captures the memories and individuality of the event.
Your finished piece can be a centerpiece bowl, vase or platter, displayed in a showcase or as a wall hanging.
MM: Please tell us why you created the Day In Clay signature program?
CM: My connection to creating commemorative pieces grew out of the connecting to history through clay. So much has been recorded in history and preserved to this day due to clay. i.e. the vessel or tablet.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were found not that long ago in beautiful clay vessels. The whole story of the Greek Culture had been exquisitely drawn and painted on their pots. They were masters at painting something about their everyday life on a clay pot. So here was an opportunity to create a piece of art that could express something about a moment in our lives today using the techniques of the past. A moment in time… a party, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, wedding, anniversary, retirement, a celebration! Years from now you can look at your own commemorative bowl and at a glance see who was there with you.
For more information on Day In Clay, please visit their Website.