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Edition of Nov. 9, 2007

Artist Creates 'Earth & Inks'
By Jackie Allder Send Mail to Writer
Observer Staff Writer
An exhibit featuring the work of Reston artist Tracie Griffith Tso will continue through Nov. 25 at the Vienna Arts Society Arts Center. "Earth & Inks" features wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery pieces with bamboo, orchid and lotus designs, as well as other traditional Chinese images. Some of Griffith Tso's rice paper pieces, as well as some handbag designs, also will be showcased at the exhibit.
"They're all handmade and one-of-a-kind," she said.
The majority of the pieces were created in Kentucky, where Griffith Tso and her husband lived until about six months ago when they moved to Reston. While in Kentucky, Griffith Tso collaborated with Patricia Ferrell of Brushy Fork Creek Studio and Gallery to create the handmade pottery pieces on which she painted Chinese designs.
Griffith Tso has been specializing in Chinese artwork since she first started art classes at the age of 12. "It's all extremely symbolic," she said, explaining that beginners in Chinese art first learn about the "four gentlemen" that represent the four seasons. Artists can then build on those four designs (bamboo, orchid, plum blossom and chrysanthemum) and create new images, she said.
While it was not Griffith Tso's idea to study art—her mother wanted to decorate her home with original pieces of art—she has successfully continued the creative career. In college, she studied journalism and uncovered an aptitude for newspaper and publication computer graphics, which she continues to create.
Since moving to Reston, Griffith Tso has been working out of the Reston Community Center at Lake Anne. She said there are differences between every studio from the composition of the clay to the types and colors of glazes, but she is learning to navigate her way around the Reston studio.
"There's so many opportunities for things to go wrong," she said about the process of creating a painted piece of pottery. When working with Ferrell, she said, they were able to get the process "down to an art," and she is still traveling to Kentucky to continue work with Ferrell.
Nonetheless, Griffith Tso has found a nice fit at the Reston Community Center, and the longtime art instructor said she hopes to teach some courses there next year.
The process that she and Ferrell developed involves molding a piece of clay into a specific design, then allowing it to dry and become greenware. Instead of firing the clay in the kiln and then painting it, Griffith Tso paints an underglaze or white background on the greenware piece, and then she brush paints the design onto the piece using colored underglazes. The piece receives a clear coat and is then fired in the kiln at such high temperatures that the pieces are microwave and dishwasher safe, she said.
"It sort of gives you a different dimension to a piece of pottery," she said.
Griffith Tso's exhibit at the Vienna Arts Society Arts Center features many pieces that are available for purchase. The center is located at 115 Pleasant Street in Vienna.


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