Ceramic Pills




These pills were made as part of a ceramics class. The assignment was to recreate another artists work; I found the idea sickening as I hated the thought of blatantly copying someone elses work. After pouring over book after book, I finally stumbled upon an artist who made giant q tips and giant aspirin pills; this intrigued me as I am fascinated with the way our society is so willing to swallow a pill to solve a problem. To resolve my need to create something original I decided to juxtaposition two pills that are complete opposites: aspirin and ecstasy.

For the medium, I chose a light gray clay which provided the level of rigidness while maintaining an off-white pill color. Slabs were rolled out to 3/8-inch and draped over molds in order to achieve the typical edging of a pressed pill. After 2-3 hours the pieces were removed from the molds and allowed to rest upon the table to increase the flatness of the outwards surface of each pill face. The center for each pill was constructed from 1/2-inch thick strips, with each pill having two individual side walls.

With the individual pieces created I began an all night session of building. I used canned food to support the top of the pill while assembling the sidewall of each half using generous amounts of slip and fresh clay to fuse the pieces together. The hardest part was the final closing of the side walls. Using one finger on the inside to try and seal as much as I could while continually trying to reduce the size of the opening, I was finally able to reduce each opening to less than 1-inch.

For the stamping of the pills, I had my brother do the lettering as he was able to do it freehand better than I could have done it with precise measurements. To achieve the white-chalky look of a typical aspirin pill, it was coated with slip that had a white pigmentation added. Two coats of the white slip were applied and then after drying the aspirin pill was buffed using a plastic shopping bag. This buffing process helped smooth the pill, leaving it with that manufactured look.

For the ecstasy pill a quick search of the internet provided a slew of knowledge, the best being a crowdsourced platform that allowed individual users to post what type of pill and its effects. From this site I was able to derive that the pills stamped with trucker girls were the most popular. After firing a coat of orange glaze was applied, as that color seemed to be rated the most popular according to the internet.

As for reactions, they seem be between visually these are really cool to “Wow I guess I never thought about pills like that.” As for revisions, I would have like to close the holes even more, which I believe could have been obtained by wadding up some newspaper and tying a string around it which would have allowed me to exert pressure upon the inner wall while closing from the outside.

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