Ceramics Exploration

During my internship at Hallmark I had a chance to explore my creative voice in the Ceramics Studio! You may remember I traveled to Spain last March, and I decided to create ceramics pieces inspired by the many beautiful doors I photographed. 

These are just a few of the many beautiful doors I saw as we traveled from city to city. I loved the geometric shapes and the details. When it came time to start creating I decided I wanted to simplify the forms I was seeing to bring out my favorite pieces. 

I grew up taking clay classes in the summer, but I am by no means experienced when it comes to ceramics. I documented the entire process to help me remember the steps I took and to see how the pieces evolved. There is a certain element of uncertainty in ceramics which is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. The plate I was sure would be my least-favorite ended up being the one I have displayed at home. I was thankful to have this time during my internship to make and explore a less familiar medium. To take a look at other work I created during my summer internship head on over to my portfolio


Madrid

I can't believe it, but today was my last day in Spain! Madrid did not disappoint. We started our morning by walking to the Plaza Mayor. After arriving we were given free time to explore, shop and eat. There were street performers, one of which especially caught my attention (see below). Our final part of the tour was visiting the Palacio Real, a huge palace begun in 1738 on the site of the Madrid Alcazar which burned to the ground in 1734. We walked through a few of 2000 rooms, which were quite elaborate. The evening concluded with another concert at the church of San Millan y San Cayetano located in the San La Latina neighborhood of Madrid. It was a moving concert which took place after the Mass during which the choir sang as well. Our trip concluded with a late group dinner and an erie walk home because of the protest that was occurring that day throughout the city. It has been a wonderful week and I could not have asked for a more meaningful spring break trip! 


El Escorial & Segovia

After a restful night's sleep in Madrid, this morning we headed towards Segovia. Along the way we stopped at El Escorial, a massive monastery-palace commissioned by Philip II. We had a guided tour of the Royal Apartments and saw the Pantheon of the Kings where the mortal remains of all the Spanish monarchs from the time of Emperor Charles V are laid to rest. There were beautiful gardens surrounding the palace and I would have loved to explore them if time had allowed. We then got back on the bus and headed to Segovia. Immediately upon arrival we could see an impressive Roman Aqueduct which was built nearly 2,000 years ago. It was truly impressive. We then had time to wander through the city and eat a leisurely lunch. After spending some time shopping, the choir again sang in front of the aqueduct. I can't believe that tomorrow day of the trip! 


On to Madrid

Most of today was taken up by the long drive from Cordoba to Madrid. I can't believe we have already arrived in the last city we will be staying in before heading home! I was adventurous at lunch and tried the Bocadillo de Calamares, a squid sandwich our guides raved about. A lover of sea food, I thought it was delicious! After lunch we headed to the Prado museum. Having taken many art history classes as part of my design degree I loved seeing this collection of European art from the 12th to 19th centuries. We saw pieces by Spanish masters including Velazquez, Goya and El Greco. I thought it was wonderful to be able to see in person a few pieces I have learned about in school. After this visit we headed to our hotel which was located right in the center of Madrid. This modern city is bustling with life, and we walked past many shops on our way to dinner. I am excited that we will have more time to explore Madrid over the next two days! 


Seville

Today we traveled to Seville! Our day began with a walking tour of Seville's Barrio Santa Cruz. Seville is known as one of the great cathedral and university cities in Europe, a center for bullfighting and flamenco, and also happens to be Kansas City's sister city! In fact, we even drove down Kansas City street. Of course I loved this. Our tour led us to Seville Cathedral, and I immediately recognized the bell tower, La Giralda,  as the model for one of the towers on the Plaza in KC. We were able to climb the tower and had a beautiful view of the entire city. The choir also gave an impromptu performance in from of the church. After breaking for lunch, we then headed to learn Flamenco from local dancers. This was quite an interesting experience, and after our hour lesson we were able to watch an actual performance which was full of passion. It was another wonderful day in Spain! 


Granada

Visiting Granada and exploring the Alhambra may have been my favorite day of this trip so far. While seeing the Mezquita yesterday gave me a taste of wonderful Moorish architecture, the Alhambra was truly spectacular. We were given a guided tour of not only the Alhambar, but also Generalife, the country estate of the Nasrid Kings. The gardens were beautiful. I could have spen hours just admiring the view and all of the architectural details. After this wonderful visit we headed to the Albaicin, the old Moorish quarter, and ate lunch and went shopping. The evening consisted of another choir concert, this time at the Conservatory of Music back in Cordoba. 


Cordoba

This morning we boarded the bus and headed to Cordoba. Along the way we made a stop to see some beautiful windmills. It was a beautiful place to take pictures and get to see amazing views of the countryside. The choir took a group picture in front of an old castle as well! When we finally arrived in Cordoba, which was the northernmost city of the Moorish empire, and were given time to wander around. We wandered through the Juderia, Cordoba's ancient Jewish quarter, and also visited the Mezquita. This was definitely a highlight of the day. The Mezquita is a medieval Islamaic mosque that was converted into a Cathoic cathedral. It is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture and from the moment you walk inside it is easy to see why. We then checked into our hotel in Cordoba and will take a day trip to Granada tomorrow. 


Toledo

Today we were able to spend a full day touring Toledo! The morning began with the choir singing at the Church of Santa Fe. There was a celebration of the renowned Spanish Renaissance artist, El Greco, going on and their concert was a part of the festivities. After the concert we were given some free time to eat lunch and shop. The afternoon consisted of a walking tour of Toledo where we were able to learn morn information about the Toledo Cathedral we visited yesterday. Another stop of the tour was visiting the Iglesia de Santo Tome where El Greco's masterpiece The Burial of the Count of Orgaz is located. After the tour concluded we took a beautiful walk to our buses which led us over a bridge looking over the river which surrounds the city. Before heading back to the hotel for dinner we made on last stop to see where Damascene jewelry is made. Toledo is the world's largest center of production of this jewelry, the art of decorating non-precious metals with gold. This style of  production originates from work done in Damascus, Syria and was a practice brought to Spain by the Arabs. I was lucky enough to be able to see an artisan creating these beautiful pieces and purchase a necklace for myself! 

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