Working on Ancient Runes and the Rilke Verse

November 21, 2015

I have now  returned from spending October at the Mendocino Art Center.  While there,  I further explored stamping porcelain letters and hieroglyphic-like marks onto “ancient” clay runes.  This is a work in progress, as I am trying to find a satisfying method for making these artifacts.

Rune 2 original-optimized

This pit-fired example is one of my first attempts. It is 6 inches long and about 3/4″ thick with a small, hollow space within.  It feels rather heavy when held in the hand.

My attempt at carving  words (taken from Rilke’s epitaph)  is pictured below but these words are not reversed and thus cannot be used for stamping.

Rilke verse_up_resolution

My next effort will be to translate the Rilke words into cuneiform markings and then cut them onto a clay, rune-like object.  Below is the code I will use. I downloaded this code  from the web (sorry but I did not record the link) and then reconstructed the code  in vector graphics.   Letters  within brackets are invented symbols since the ancient cuneiform language evidently did not depict a few letters from our alphabet. The translation of the Rilke verse that I intend to place on the runes is shown below the codes.

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Ceramic icons on ancient relics

Today, I am thinking about the icons that I impress onto the surface of ceramic objects. I call these objects “ancient relics”, as pictured.

ancient-relic-#4

The stamped symbols however have not had any particular meaning. They only represent a random combination of hieroglyphic, cuneiform and other designs ( you can also see the imprint from the end of a  skeleton key, for example, on the right top part).

I am thinking now about developing an actual symbolic language using some of these carved icons (made from small porcelain stamps), as pictured:

ceramic porcelain icons
Box of ceramic icon stamps

To begin this project, I will need to carve new stamps and associate them with a coded language key. I am thinking about trying to represent a line of poetry with these new symbols.  The poety line that I will start with is the one from the epitaph of Rainer Rilke; it reads (as translated):

“Rose, oh pure contradiction, delight of being no one’s sleep under so many lids.”

First, I will need to create the porcelain icons and their coded meanings. More to follow….

 

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