Mother-Daughter Duo Take Different Approaches to Their Sculptures

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Michelle Lamb at Gallery 1448 with “Capricorn” (Photos by Heather M. Ross)

Michelle and Emily Lamb are a mother-daughter duo, living and creating at Artists’ Housing, Inc., Baltimore’s oldest residential art cooperative.

Gallery 1448 is an art space owned and operated by Artists’ Housing.

Emily Lamb was the first half of the duo to come to Baltimore, having officially moved to the city five years ago. Her mother hopes to join her in Baltimore permanently following the sale of her Denver home and the completion of her commitments to Denver galleries.

“We work really good together because we both respect each other’s art, and we feel free to give each other constructive criticism, and it’s helpful and it’s always great to have a fresh eye,” Michelle Lamb says.

According to Michelle Lamb, having a fellow artist in the home helps when either of them are struggling with a piece and need advice or a brainstorming session.

Both Lambs began creating art at a young age.

Emily Lamb positions one of her ceramic and glass sculpture pieces in Gallery 1448. (Ran Zeimer)

“I always kind of had a studio and always was kind of making a mess — both my girls were in there with me and dabbling in all the things that I had around as well,” Michelle Lamb says.

While they had similar origins, both artists chose different sculpture mediums to fulfill their artistic visions.

Emily Lamb combines glass and ceramic while Michelle Lamb uses recycled components to create a cohesive piece.

Emily Lamb’s work challenges the rules of glassblowing and clay works.

“Once I learned the rules, I like to break the rules and try to make it look like they liked each other. So even though they can’t actually be fused together, I tried to make it look like they’re one cohesive piece,” Emily Lamb says.

While both materials are similar in that they both need extreme heat, they shrink at different rates.

“If they actually fuse together, as they start to cool down, they would shrink at different rates and actually break each other,” Emily Lamb explains.

Emily Lamb shares her expertise locally as an instructor at Baltimore Clayworks.

To create her seamless pieces, Emily Lamb makes the ceramic first and fires it to shrink it to its true form, then she uses different molds like a hot blow mold to make the bottom part for the glass so that the glass can be blown into the mold and be fit together with the ceramic once both pieces are cool. After cooling, Emily Lamb secures the components using glues and epoxies.

While her mother, Michelle Lamb, has been an artist her whole life, her passion for sculpture was reignited upon her daughter’s foray into the arts scene on her college campus.

Like her daughter, Michelle Lamb also brings components together to create a cohesive sculpture. But Michelle Lamb’s work is rooted in found and recycled antiques rather than shaped glass and ceramics.

One of Michelle Lamb’s sculptures featuring animal bones and repurposed vintage machinery (Heather M. Ross)

The mother describes her work as industrial, but not steampunk. The difference, she says, is that her work uses the rust, patinas, grease and tarnished silver that steampunk works tend to avoid.

“I love the idea of the age of some of my objects, and I like that evident when I’m making it,” Michelle Lamb says.

Michelle Lamb says she typically sources her objects from thrift stores, antique vendors and friends, though she has also been to a few estate sales and junk yards.

“I’m very particular about the parts that I’m trying to find, and so I’m not the type that necessarily just walks the streets and finds things and makes sure to use them in my art,” she says. “I have a specific purpose for most of it.”

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