Banner: Porcelain Grace, Meryl Ruth, Fine Art



Ceramic model of a typical San Francisco Victorian-style house.
  • This commissioned work was made in the form of a typical Victorian-style San Francisco dwelling commonly seen in the Haight-Ashbury district. Further, the buyer wished to have the internal details of the structure viewable. Attempts to make the two halves independently failed because of distortion due to differing rates of drying and associated shrinkage. Success was achieved by making a single structure and splitting the work vertically into two halves. The halves could be hinged together to allow it to be swung open for internal viewing.
  • The work's title, Open House, is intended to convey two separate meanings. First, it is a ceramic piece that opens to reveal the detais of its interior. Second, it portrays the openness and friendly, welcoming, peace-loving attributes of the inhabitants of the old Haight-Ashbury cultural scene.
  • The piece is entirely hand-built of stoneware clay using slab construction, supplemented with various techniques for providing decorative elements, including sculpting, carving, altering, extruding, incising and bas relief.
  • Faux wooden siding consists of thin extruded strips of clay overlapping each other starting at the bottom of the front facade and progressing upward toward the roof. Upper window cross-bars are also of extruded clay.. Lower window lintel made of sculpted clay strip.
  • Construction of the sides and the back is completed with siding, brickwork and tiling.
  • The delicate structure is then allowed to dry completely before being subjected to its first bisque firing.
  • Because the dwelling is sturdier after firing, interior details can be added with greater safety.
  • Decorative embellishments are then also be added on both the exterior and interior surfaces with glazes and China paints.
  • Multiple refirings follow each paint layer.
  • Construction sequence:
  • Date: 2015.
  • Size: 12.0" x 10.0" x 5.75".
  • A commissioned work.
  • Sold.



Enlarged view, front.

Enlarged view, back.

Enlarged view, left interior.

Enlarged view, right interior

Enlarged view, roof garden







Tagboard template as preliminary prototype for this work.

  • A preliminary sketch of the intended work is made in tagboard template to guide the ceramic construction of this complex piece.
  • The front façade is shown here.

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Early ceramic construction illustrated.


  • One of the directives of the commission is to make the piece in the form of a typical Victorian-style San Francisco dwelling.
  • Its street-facing front façade is shown, as yet incomplete.
  • The work is made by slab construction using stoneware clay.
  • Detailed roof ornamentations are carved, shaped and altered clay slabs cut to form and enhanced by extruded clay trim.
  • The bowed upper-story windows are formed in the same manner. They are fitted to openings cut in the front face, and permanently attached by the score and slip method.
  • Window overhangs are sculpted and decorated with incised and raised bas relief designs.
  • The doors are also sculpted and embellished with more formal patterns.
  • The front steps are sculpted from a single clay block.
  • Given that the work is projected to be a hinged piece that will open to reveal its inner details (as desired by the buyer), the entire clay structure is now sliced into two halves by a two-handled wire cutting implement.

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More advanced stage of construction.


  • Illustrated here is a more advanced construction state showing the addition of door and step embellishments.
  • It includes a decorated faux lintel and columns, all in ceramic material.
  • Bowed street-level windows are constructed with security bars.

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Further construction with siding panels.


  • Faux  wooden siding on the front façade is added using thin extruded clay strips in overlapping rows laid serially from bottom to roof.
  • Extruded clay also used to form the cross-bars in the upper window openings and the sculpted lintel of the lower window.

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Construction phase completed.


  • Construction phase is now completed.
  • These photographs show all four exterior faces of the ceramic dwelling. From left to right: front facade, matching left and right sides, and back.
  • The two halves will be hinged together at the rear wall to permit access to the interior.
  • The delicate work is now allowed to dry completely before its first bisque firing to cone 06.
  • The decorative process is held off until the structure has been strengthened by firing.
  • Detailed structural work on the interior and decorative coloration on both exterior and interior surfaces will follow, using glazes, lusters and China paints.

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After kiln firing is done in bisque state, coloration is begun using underglazes.


  • The work is successfully fired in a kiln at cone 06.
  • The piece is thus strengthened in its structural integrity to permit safely adding coloration, here shown with its first layer of underglazes.

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Internal decorative embellishments.


  • Further external coloration with glazes and China paints is added to the entire external surfaces, as shown in the first and last images (front and back) in this sequence.
  • Similar work is also begun on the internal structures of this hinged piece, here illustrated in the second and third images above.



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