Ceramic Sculpture Installation at the Limani Restaurant
Ceramic Artist Meghan Bergman’s contemporary ceramic art installation is a tribute to the beauty and grandeur of the ocean.
This sculpture features 298 handcrafted ceramic fish in a dazzling combination of white and gold, inspired by the silhouettes of the Sea Bass and Bronzino and their native Mediterranean waters.
This sculpture was commissioned by the Limani Restaurant, a Greek-Mediterranean seafood restaurant located along the DC Wharf with an upscale dining experience and spectacular views of the waterfront in Washington, DC.
From Inspiration to Installation
I have visited Washington DC many times over the years as a student (and later as an Art Teacher) and every trip have enjoyed soaking up inspiration in the many Art Museums & Galleries. I was honored and thrilled to create an original work of art for a new Mediterranean Seafood Restaurant opening in the DC Wharf.
Now only about a mile away from the National Gallery, home to famous works of art from Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Pablo Picasso, I proudly have a permanent Ceramic Art Installation to welcome guests to the Limani Restaurant in the DC Wharf.
Come take a look at how this Ceramic Fish Sculpture came to life over the course of a year long journey from inspiration to installation!
Creating the Molds
My inspiration for this work of art was the Sea Bass and Bronzino, two fish native to the waters of the Mediterranean. Both have a uniquely different profile, and my vision was to create a floor to ceiling sculpture, elevated above the viewer, which made them feel as if they were standing in front of a school of fish. There is beauty in repetition, and for this installation, I needed to make nearly 300 ceramic fish!
Once I had perfectly handcrafted a clay fish inspired by the Sea Bass & Bronzino, I created a plaster mold so I could create enough of each fish using a technique known as ‘slip casting’. This allowed me to create several fish at a time until I had enough for the sculpture.
To make enough fish for the installation, my process to go “fishing” each morning was repetitive but meditative: mix & pour the slip, (enjoy a cup of coffee), allow the clay to set, pour out the excess slip. At the end of the day the fish were released from the plaster mold and cleaned up for the bisque firing.
Into the Kiln
Each fish must be fired twice: first a bisque firing to Cone 05 (~1800 F) to evaporate all of the moisture from the clay and transform each fish into ceramic ware. Then on goes the wax resist and glaze, and the fish go back into the kiln for a glaze firing. I created a custom designed stand for each fish to stand up vertically in the kiln during the firing process. The final glaze firing reaches Cone 6 temperatures (~2200 F) which allows the glaze to melt to the ceramics.
After the final firing each fish was hand painted, and dried thoroughly before being packed up for the final install.
I found that Golden has lots of Acrylic heavy body paints that are beautifully metallic; they are even rated for outdoor use. I used the Bronze color, which looks like metal but it is made with Iron Oxide Coated Mica Particles so it won’t patina over time and keeps a dazzling finish.
Installation on Site
It took 3 days on site to lay out the pattern, string the fish on the wire, and crimp each fish into place. The wire we used allows the fish to pivot slightly, which brings the sculpture to life, and it was truly magical to see all 298 fish swimming together at their final location at the Limani Restaurant!
Meet the Artist
I'm Meghan Bergman - Ceramic Artist, Art Teacher, and maker of handcrafted pottery and ceramic sculptures inspired by nature. I've been making ceramics for over 15 years, and one of the many things I love about clay is creating community and sharing my passion for ceramics with others.
Handcrafted pottery is both beautiful and functional - It's art in your hand. I love it when you look down into hand thrown pottery, the spiral draws the mind in and lets you know that it’s a one-of-a-kind handmade object you're holding.