(By Pleasant Gehman)
Since 1990, Skellramics has been producing an unending chain of innovative and adventurous ceramics, featuring a variety of pieces from tonic and potion bottles, mugs, jewel boxes, shot glasses, ashtrays, even hand carved chess-sets and figurines. Skellramics have a high level of craftsmanship. Their pieces reflect the off-kilter sense of humor of their colorful creators. Skellramics' designs are not only functional, but also whimsical, synthesizing a variety of artistic influences into an eclectic, individual style. Skellramics combines timeless craftsmanship with vibrant comic-book colors.
One of a kind and limited edition ceramics are hand carved and hand-glazed with brilliant color glazes in layers for intricacy of textures. There are butter dishes emblazoned with pin-up girls, tiny jewel-tone boxes for storing treasures, laughing devil-head pitchers and detailed skeleton couples just waiting to appear atop wedding cakes. Coffee-mugs with psychedelic swirls will wake you up almost as much as the caffeine itself and substantial goblets with three-dimensional skulls that would fit right in at any castle.
Ceramics are all handmade in Southern California in standard editions, as well as limited editions for the serious collector. There are even one-of-a-kind pieces, which will never, ever be reproduced. Limited editions and one-of-a-kind pieces come with certificates of authenticity and are numbered and signed by the artist.
We have discovered along the way, even if Skellramics is not for everyone, everyone knows someone who would like it!
One Of The Most Frequently Asked Questions We Get Is: "Why Skulls?"
Just so you know, it is not because we are obsessed with death and darkness in fact, you may have noticed that most of our pieces are grinning & very bright: we love to use primary colors, jewel tones and textured glazes. We could go all punk rock on you and ask "Why not skulls?" or we could say that that the reason we like skeletons so much is that they are easy to paint on ceramics but that wouldd be pulling your femur… err, leg! But seriously, hereis why:
Because we love ethnic folk art, especially Mexican Day of The Dead pieces, like the tiny skeleton figurines and sugar skulls. In Mexico, "Dia De Los Muertos" is a huge holiday, and not macabre at all, in fact, it celebrates the natural cycle of life and death within nature, as well as honoring, and celebrating the dead. Another influence that translates into our imagery are the colorful and symbolic Buddhist and Hindu meditation paintings, which often include skulls and skeletons in reference to the cycles of life and human existence.
Skellramics skulls and skeletons are good spirited, even kind of warm and fuzzy, less "horror movie" and more cartoonish. They are grinning, rather than grimacing. Our skeletons like to have a good time: we depict them playfully dressed up to go out on the town; dancing, drinking, playing musical instruments, even gazing at each other with love! Wouldn-t you be happy to have a big grin on your skull when it is all said and done?
Call us weird, but to us, it is a kick to see every day items like coffee-mugs, clocks, butter-dishes, bud vases or tableware decorated like they came from a psychedelic rainbow-colored haunted house! Skulls are also not the only motif we use repeatedly. We like strong symbols and also use a lot of hearts, stars, cats, flames, crowns, devils, and even sexy pin-up girls! We combine our bright colors with hand glazed geometric backgrounds- often using swirls and decorative patterns.
But back to skulls- we love them because of Halloween memories (always a favorite holiday) and the idea that the ghouls and goblins in all of us can come out and play, (at least for the night). We love the romance and legends of old-time pirates and the mystery of magicians, myths and the great beyond. Skulls remind us of vintage rock-n-roll posters, the comic books and cheesy monster magazines we loved as kids, not to mention the paintings on the side of the funhouse, our favorite ride at any carnival.
We love skulls because we like the rebellious independent spirit implied by them: pure Americana guts and glory whether it is from a song on the radio like -Leader Of The Pack-, or on the silver screen in -Easy Rider-. Never underestimating the inspiration and thrills of classic Hollywood monster movies, (every mad scientist has to buy his potion bottles somewhere.) Skulls remind us of retro hot-rod and motorcycle art, and old-school tattoo flash...
The references could go on and on but, you get the idea...
History and Information About Skulls
Day of the Dead Festival (Dia de los Muertos) is a Mexican festival both celebrating and remembering the dead. From mid-October through the first week of November, markets and shops all over Mexico sell special art and foods honoring the dead, most in the form of skulls and skeletons. Mexicans have no qualms about death, instead viewing it as a natural progression of life. November 1 is to honor and remember dead infants and children (angelitos) and November 2 is set aside to remember dead adults.
Mexico's most prolific lithographer, Posada made popular an art form that was almost lost in his time. His favorite theme was skeletons doing everyday human activities. He did this to bring to the viewer's attention the message that death is inevitable for everyone. His most famous image is "Catrina" also called "Stylish Lady", "Bony Lady", or simply "Death". Here he was making fun of the common women of the day who imitated the upper class by wearing their cast-off clothing. Again his message was clear: we are all the same under the skin. The famous skull logo of The Grateful Dead was from his work.
While most of us think all skeletons look alike, scientists can tell the age, sex, race, general health, time of death, and usually how a person died by examining his skeleton. Many cultures and religions of yesterday and today think bones have magical powers.
Amongst the Irian Jaya tribe of Indonesia, the skull of one's ancestor is revered and cared for. The body is left to decompose until the skull can be easily removed. The eldest male child then receives the skull and cares for it, using it as a pillow at night, and carrying it by day, so that it will always be protected.
The skull actually consists of 28 bones. The only one that moves is the mandible or lower jaw.
Hoaxes or ancient objects of power? The origins of the Crystal Skulls are unknown, and though some have been debunked as recently created hoaxes, others reveal that they were created by a technology that we do not have access to today. Those who have worked with the skulls claim that they receive information in the form of visions and flashes of insight, and many believe the skulls to have healing power.
The skull is so important to the Babanki people of the Camaroon grasslands that representations of the head decorate almost al utilitarian items. They revere the ancestral spirits embodied in the skulls of deceased ancestors. These are kept by the eldest male of a lineage. When a family relocates, they must first build a dwelling to house the skulls. If they cannot preserve an ancestor's skull, they perform a ritual in which libations are poured upon the ground and then utilize dirt from that location to represent the skull of the deceased.
We have all seen pictures of shrunken heads - or maybe seen those rubber replicas. But did you ever ask yourself why anyone would bother to shrink a head in the first place? The Jivaro people of the Andes feud a lot between their tribes. But if they manage to kill the enemy, they must perform an elaborate ritual to purify yourself of the killing. Durning this time, the warrior is temporarily ostracized from the tribe and a skeleton is painted on his body. In a process which takes several days, he removes the skull (through the neck) and shrinks the enemy's head, creating a "Tsantsa" which traps the spirit of the enemy inside the head, where it cannot haunt him.
The Starchild Project claims that a weirdly shaped child's skull found in a cave in Mexico proves the existence of human-alien breeding. The brain case of the skull is 200 cc larger than a normal human's. For thousands of years, the head has been a symbolic of the mind, spirituality and Oneness. In his "L'Ascension de l'humanite" (Paris 1958) Herbert Kuhn suggests that the decaptitation of corpses during prehistoric times marked Man's discovery of the spiritual principle residing in the head, as opposed to the vital principle which resided in the body as a whole.