Decalcomania > Cockamamies

Artist's Statement: The term cockamamie has its origins within the ceramic vernacular denoting a particular type of commercial ceramic decal that has been marketed by decal manufacturers since the mid-1900s. Such decals are characterized wacky, weird, or unusual for the type & style of imagery that they specifically portray. Comic strip characters, for example, are common motifs depicted in cockamamie ceramic decals. The word cockamamie was first used for the genre because it was thought that young children might have difficulty pronouncing the French word “décalcomanie”. Known more commonly in its shortened form “decal”, this word is the proper name for the decorative technique by which printed imagery is transferred upon ceramic ware. As a deliberate mispronunciation of décalcomanie, a cockamamie winds up being a strategically marketed malapropism designed to cater to a younger audience of makers & further the appeal of the ceramic decal craze known as “decalcomania”. For those who suffer from such an irresistible & insatiable craving to work with decals, the late Howard Kottler, one who helped redefine the field of contemporary American ceramics through his unconventional use of commercial decals, would diagnose those afflicted makers as full-fledged “decalcomaniacs”. I suffer from such an affliction. My interest in the nuance of ceramic decals, cockamamie and other, resides in the semantics of ceramics as I strive to question what constitutes an image that is particular to the field of ceramics.

Description: The “Cockamamie” series presented here was created through collaging miscellaneous cockamamie decals to produce imagery far stranger than the designs produced by decal manufacturers. These collages are applied to vitreous porcelain substrates as thin as paper (0.04” thick) that have been matted & framed in an effort to present ceramic material as a flat, two-dimensional construct.