Malakoff’s ceramics win awards


Isabel Malakoff and ceramics teacher Kevin Brady display Malakoff’s ceramics pieces and the ribbons she won in the Texas State Fair contest. photo provided by Elizabeth Malakoff.

Julia Donovan, Castoff Editor

Weeks of working with clay and glaze paid off for Isabel Malakoff in the form of blue ribbons from the Texas State Fair. Winning three prominent awards on Sept. 25, Malakoff won first place for both the decorated ceramics and textured glaze category and second place for the controlled glaze category.

“My parents encouraged me to participate because they love what I’ve done in ceramics and thought it would be a cool experience,” Malakoff said. “I love those pieces. I was so surprised and proud of how they turned out that when I saw there was an opportunity to see what others thought of them I thought, ‘why not?’ and submitted them.”

Kevin Brady, Malakoff’s ceramics teacher, views the contest as an opportunity to share art and be recognized on a statewide scale. Every year the Texas State Fair has a large crafts and fine arts competition for all age groups to participate for a possible award.

“It is a really big deal, as it is open to all of Texas,” Brady said. “It is too bad that we could not attend the fair this year and see her work on exhibit.”

Inspired by natural elements around her, Malakoff chose to enter into the glazed clay and decorated ceramics categories. Even though she had a general plan for how to create her pieces, Malakoff experimented and changed her mind throughout the process.

Malakoff won a first place ribbon in the decorated ceramics category with her mountain platter. The piece was built of clay coils that attached to the bottom of a platter. Then on top of the platter, she sculpted a multitude of clay mountains which took hours to individually attach to the platter. The piece took her the longest, a total of three months.

“The mountain platter was my play on the connection between the altitude of the mountains versus the depths of the ground,” Malakoff said. “The platter part is glazed in a dark green and blue to symbolize the land and ocean. The mountains are elevated and on the sides of the platter, and I did not glaze them. I wanted to highlight the natural beauty of elevation.”

Her second first place award in the textured glaze category was a sculpted tray which took her a month and a half to create. The tray was carved into with different tools to create “L” shapes.

“The tray I created was inspired by dirt,” Malakoff said. “There are all these different consistencies and treasures inside dirt, yet people always disregard dirt as gross. I used these black and white lines to represent the wonders that can be found within the natural world.”

Finally, Malakoff’s bowl, which took her a month to make, won second place in the controlled glaze category.

“The bowl I created was honestly my first attempt at using wax resist,” Malakoff said. “Wax resist is what I use when I want to keep the clay in its natural state and not use any glaze on it at all. I was inspired by the richness of my favorite glaze called root beer. I wanted to pair the root beer glaze and no glaze together because I love the way they contrast each other.”

Malakoff decided to submit her projects this summer. She filed paperwork and turned all her pieces into the State Fair of Texas on Sept. 9. From there, a panel of judges reviewed her three pieces. Malakoff said her mom, Elizabeth, has always supported her artistic abilities and dedication to her work.

“Isabel has enjoyed ceramics classes at Hockaday since freshman year, and finds her time in the studio a great opportunity to disconnect from screens and schoolwork and work with her hands,” Elizabeth said. “She has sculpted many beautiful pieces and I think she is quite talented at using glaze to create texture, color contrast and depth in her work. I am very proud of her for entering the Creative Arts competition and having her ceramics pieces judged by other artists in the community.”