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Project Goal

Create 20(ish) cattle tags (if it were to be a gallery installation I would make 100-we had 100 head of cattle in the 90s)



  • October 14 Wet Critique

  • November 16 Glazed Critique

  • December 14 Final Evaluation and Report 

Evaluation Criteria

  • Concept: 100 Head of Cattle. Installation. Create agricultural resemblance through multiple clay objects

  • Craftsmanship

    • Form: Proportional Realism, hand built/casted/press mold

    • Surface: Shape allowing a clean assembly and design

    • Creativity: Multiples realism installation honoring the American farmers through cattle tags

    • Presentation: Installed on the wall in a clean/simple/geometric format​


My inspiration for this piece stemmed from my interest within multiples and installation work. I am drawn towards simple designs that are replicated with a clean and simplified color scheme. I wanted to create something similar to this but with cow tags. Tags represent belonging and inclusion. They are also something that comes to mind when I think of cows on a farm. The American farmer uses these to brand their cattle. When I was young, we had around 100 head of cattle and each had their own cow tag. Integrating something that was not only meaningful to me but also symbolized meaning within farming and belonging was an achievable goal and the base for this piece. 

Sarah explores various yet similar fractal patterns found throughout nature. In many of her pieces she finds a similar form and repeats it over and over and arranges them in a manner that creates an abstract form or sculpture. She also arranges these pieces to form an installation as well.

Sarah House

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Katherine Dube

Katherine enjoys the tedious process of creating each individual clay piece. She creates installations, along with vessel forms and sculpture. Katherine focusses on the integrating a visual articulation incorporating science with a systematic approach to ceramics. Each piece reveals a unique observation of an ecosystem, natural event, or of mathematical origin.



For this piece, I started experimenting with how I wanted to mass-create these cow tags. I used an actual cow tag and created a press-mold to make my shapes. I used stoneware for the structure and bisqued it for a more stable stamp. I used a variety of clay(porcelain, buff stoneware, and peppered wheat) to test out the colors, not fully confident on how I was wanting the finished result to look. 


I began to experiment with underglazes to create the numbers and a more rugged look around the edges. I also played around with the colors for the entire tag with a few underglaze colors. As I started looking into how I wanted to create the installation or wall arrangement, I began to hate the idea of just simply arranging cow tags on a wall. I wanted to create something that could hold more depth by looking at it. I started to research more artists and stumbled across Sarah House and really enjoyed her vessels created out of multiples. It sparked my interest to create something with my cow tags and form them into a sculpture or vessel. During the beginning of the semester we had discussed multiple ways to create cylinders and I figured I might as well try that method! It was safe to say, that I really enjoyed the process, along with how it was starting to look!


As I assembled the pieces, I wanted the piece to appear as it was a collection of "used" cow tags. Having them overlap, both the top and bottom. I experimented with RIO(Red Iron Oxide) stain to create a "dirty" look in the creases.

Throughout the construction, I started to reflect on the symbolism and reasoning for why a cow is tagged. Ear tags are needed for animal identification. They make it possible for us to identify and keep accurate records about each calf, heifer, steer, cow and bull. But also, along with being tagged, comes a sense of belonging or togetherness. When you tag or label something in the human world it can mean that it belongs to you, that it is yours. However, when something is yours, you take care of it. You nurture it and provide it with shelter, compassion, and it's necessities. 

I wanted this piece to resemble a sense of togetherness and belonging with the overlapping of the tags while having them in a crooked arrangement. The reason for the organic layout was to convey the imperfect life that a cattle farmer encounters on a daily basis. The collection could resemble the number of cattle lost during a season of freezing weather. It could resemble the number of calfs that were born. 

I created this video to show the change from adding RIO to all the edges to sponging it off and displaying the final look before it was sprayed with the white leach glaze and fired. 

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The final piece turned out better than I had anticipated. I had quite a bit of positive feedback from my surrounding environment on the process of this piece. I do feel like I would like to replicate this piece in the form of a bowl, or another form, possibly even bigger or even a sculpture. The finished rusty look turned out great, along with how the RIO stayed in the creases. It made the white not so bright and really emphasize the creases of the overlapping forms piled and layered over one another. I intended for the piece to have holes create some negative space, especially as you get closer towards the top. I really enjoy the look of the top edge where the tags are almost uneven and random. This could be a very interesting series if I were to do this in multiple forms or even colors. I am extremely happy with this piece, I just wish I could have incorporated numbers/letters into the tags to replicate a real cow tag. However during the construction and experimentation of this piece, I came across too many challenges and was unable to do this in the time I had. 


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