Mel Mars spent many years as a potter of functional stoneware before turning to glass, searching for a more immediate way to express his ideas and an opportunity to develop new possibilities. He now uses both materials and there is a clear relationship between the two strands of work.
When working with hot glass, he will often collect several gathers of clear glass with coloured layers between, the transparency of the glass giving a depth not achievable with clay. In his ceramics, as in his glass, Mel’s interest is focussed on the concept of colour as structure rather than as a surface finish. He wedges colour into clay (oxides or stains, as a paste) and wedges again to make a mixture of marbled clays with which he throws a vessel.
Fired in an electric kiln to 1250º without a glaze, his glass works are then polished in parts using a diamond pad, giving a contrast which adds tactile interest.
T glass material is used for its whiteness and strength – it resists cracking even where there may be thick and thin areas on the same piece and can be pushed a long way without breaking up. The differential thickness leads some pieces to be quite musical, and Mel is delighted to find that they produce different notes depending on where they are struck.