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The Alchemy of Materials: How Christopher David White’s Trompe L’Oeil Ceramics Trick Your Eyes

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“Carbon Footprint.” All images © Christopher David White, shared with permission

Christopher David White’s ceramics have a very unique and exciting process. His clay sculptures are so life-like that it is hard to tell the difference between clay and wood at first glance. In his studio, he applies alchemy of elements to transform slabs of clay into deceptive sculptures and functional things that resemble pieces of decomposing wood. The fascinating part about this artist is that these clay pieces are fragile depictions of the sturdy material, complete with its gnarled knots and splintered edges in various states of decomposition.


Each component is meticulously detailed several times overhead on over to Instagram to see the process behind the scenes—which White begins by shaping the first form with knots and branches and imprinting broad grooves for the grain. After it’s dried, dental equipment, wire brushes, and Xacto knives are used to create the more complex parts. The slightly dehydrated material allows for natural cracks and divots, which adds to the woody feel. Each sculpture is painted with a primarily neutral color palette of acrylics after firing.


In his paintings, White has frequently addressed the theme of human interaction with nature, although he’s recently moved to more natural treatments of the topic. “I’m aiming to bring attention to human abuse and disregard for nature, as well as the inconsistencies in our actions,” he adds. “Humans value nature as a beautiful, delicate, and distinctive entity while at the same time seeing it as a resource to be endlessly exploited, dominated, and discarded.”


White’s store sells reproductions of artwork, and you may keep up with him on Instagram and his own website to find out when new batches of mugs, planters, or other products.

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“Pushing Up Daisies”
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“Coral mug”
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“Small planters”
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“Teapot set”
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“Weathered Heart”
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“Not 2B”
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“Paint It Red”