Saturday, October 30, 2010

Building My Bird Sculptures

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in posting. Just been staying busy with the kiddo and clay and daily life. Hubby is back in town and that is pretty exciting! We've just been hanging out, spending time together since his return on Friday evening.

The other morning, a Twitter follower sent me a question that was perfect timing. He wanted to know if I took pictures of each stage that the sculptures went through during creation. It was a timely question because I had just taken some photos of a piece as I was working on. I don't always take photos (sometimes I forget!) but I had just snapped a couple of the current piece.

There are many ways to work in clay, and the way I tend to work on an armature and build the piece solid. I work quickly in the building stage, just trying to get a rough form and get the clay on the armature so that it can began to dry. When I first start a sculpture, the clay is so wet and not strong at all, but as it dries, it becomes stronger.

My armatures mostly consist of 1/2" or 3/8" metal pipe from the plumbing section of Lowe's and I attach that to a plywood board. I wrap the pipe in stretch wrap so the clay won't stick and then I start. I take large hunks of clay and smash it onto the armature, making sure to really compress the clay as I squeeze onto the armature. I keep going as far as I can until the clay begins to sag or bend or do weird things. Then I let it rest, maybe overnight, maybe two days, depending on how humid it is in the studio. After that, I begin to refine the shape, but not adding too many details at this point.

Then comes the crazy point. You've got the sculpture mostly built, it's looking pretty good, you are liking the form, and now you have to cut it off the armature! So I take my fettling knife and start slicing. The idea is to cut through until you hit the pipe in the middle and then remove a portion of the sculpture. This is what I have done in this first photo. I cut down the back of the this sculpture, because there was less detail that I'd have to repair after hollowing it out. It really depends on the piece where I decide to cut. A little tip about clay: it's pretty hard to fire something solid, and I generally want a hollow piece with walls about 3/8" thick. Some people go really thin, others go thick, but the idea here is to get all the air pockets out of the clay walls.. The sculpture can explode in the kiln if there are air pockets or moisture.... and boy, is that fun, let me tell you!! And that's what all those small holes are for - to help with drying, and to expose any air pockets.

The next photo shows the piece back on the armature, and it's been all hollowed out. I leave in those "braces" in the interior of the piece, as I will be mounting the sculpture on a metal rod after firing. Those braces serve as guidelines for the rod and help to prevent the piece from loosely banging around on the rod after firing.

After hollowing it out, I re-attach the remaining piece(s) and reform the sculpture. Now I can begin to add in details and bring the piece to completion. I love sharing these crazy stages with you guys. I once did this in front of a friend who was visiting, and she gasped when she saw me scalp the head on my sculpture. :)

So thank you, Twitter follower, for your timely question and for getting me back on my blog!

Hope you guys enjoyed seeing a bit of the process!


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sneaky Peek of a Sculpture

You guys were right,

It is SUPER hard to hold back images of things I've been working on in the studio. So, I have decided to share a little tidbit of info with a picture. Ever since my mother died, back in Feb.of '09, all of my bird sculptures have been without wings. Or if they had wings, they weren't for flying, but for protecting or something else...

But then, last week, a change happened. I built a woman/bird/girl (birl? boman? wobird?) with wings. Wings meant for flying or at least growing into wings that could one day fly. That's all I'm going to say.

I am sure am having fun with it and I can't wait til she's fired and finished. I think she's going to be one of my favorites... But we will see what the kiln gods have in store for me!

This past week was a crazy one in our household with no school on Monday, then the kiddo was sick with a touch of bronchitis and ear infections, and then hubby came home Friday morning. I'm hoping that, starting tomorrow, we can get back to a routine... which translates into studio time for me!

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Layout & Laura Rocks!

I want to take this opportunity to give a HUGE shout out to my friend Laura Otero, whom I actually met through an ecourse. It was pure luck that we both lived in the same city, and became friends in real life too. This girl is talented in several fields and can pretty much do anything she sets her mind to do. She does the lovely jewelry you see in these photos, and she maintains a marketing blog too that is filled with lots of great tips and is very helpful.

She also does web design, and has started doing logos, blog buttons, and headers for other artists. She's been pushing me to change my ugly, old, low res header on my blog for ever (and she's totally right, it needed changing), but usually it takes a certain action or thing to get me started. Today she made me a new header for my blog (isn't it awesome??) and it totally got me fired up to change things around on my old blog. As soon as I had a chance, I plugged it in and started having fun. Thank you, Laura, for giving me the push to get it done!! It was her talent, and her eye for design, that got me so excited. I'm still tweaking it and playing some things, so don't be surprised if things change a little here or there.

So if you need any help with your online stuff, contact Laura. She's an awesome designer and is happy to help, even if it's just a little ol' project, like my header. And she's super nice, which makes her all the more better. Love you Laura! Thank you!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Cabarrus Arts Council in NC!

I am excited to share with you some details of the art exhibit I have coming up in North Carolina in January. It is with the Cabarrus Arts Council (which is in Concord, NC just outside of Charlotte) and these folks do a fantastic job of supporting the arts while educating/involving the public as well! They have had previous exhibitions showing the work of many clay artists I look up to, and I am honored to be participating in this exhibit. It is entitled "Word Processing" and it will be a multi-media exhibit with paintings, installations, and ceramic works all that involve text in some way. The show opens on January 18, 2011 and runs through March 10, 2011.

I want to share with you all the new work I've been making for the show, but then I'd have no surprises left for the show. Therefore, as hard as it will be, I will only offer a couple of "sneak peeks" of my newest sculptures, as they come to completion. This will be so hard for me, because I always want to share everything!

I am super excited about this show! It has gotten me moving again after our trip to San Francisco, and I feel like some of my newest imagery is coming from that trip. How perfect is that?!?

Well, have a great weekend! The weather is here is supposed to be great - finally some real autumn weather for us. It's about time, don't you think??


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kylie Stevens Exhibition

Wow, o wow! Don't you love it when your friends really start to fly in doing something they love?? It's so much fun to see your friends succeed, and I am always a fan of people following their dreams. One of my online friends, Kylie Stevens is having her first art exhibit at a super cool gallery, and I am thrilled for her. I wanted to put this invitation up on the blog to show my support, since I am unable to physically attend. Maybe one day when I'm rich and famous, I'll be able to zip over to Australia for all of her openings!

The postal service brutalized her invite a little bit, and so parts of it are smeared, but her beautiful painting is intact. Her exhibit opens on October 22 and runs through to November 10, and I know her work will be well-received. She was just interviewed by one of the newspapers there, so she is getting some great PR for the exhibit already.

So, I wish you luck, Kylie and I know you are going to have a blast at that opening!!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Being a Single Parent

so I have no new photos for you guys tonight. Things have been going well in the studio, albeit, a little slowly. I've been too tired at night to work mostly, unless it's reading other blogs and having a glass of vino. :) I did start a sketch this morning, but it still needs quite a bit of work before it's ready to share.

As most of you know, hubby is away at Stunt Man School. Things there are really going well, but everyone's bodies are starting to hurt. Lots of Advil is being munched on like candy, and they are icing some of their joints too. It's been two weeks and they have two more to go. They've been doing some fun rappelling (sp?), and some zip line stuff. They were going to do some more high jumps, but it has been windy and the jumps were postponed.

So he has been gone for two weeks, and this is the longest I have ever been alone with the kiddo. I have ALWAYS respected single parents, and now I have a much better appreciation for what they do. We have no family here to help, but I did get the babysitter one night this week so I could have a fun work session with Dreamy Designs owner Laura. She's a girl I met through Twitter and we have become friends in real life. I am so thankful to have her as a friend! But anyway, back to the parenting. A few things I have noticed about being a single parent:

*I get tired of the same old routine and the same old arguments. Eat your beans, brush your teeth, etc.
*I sleep very lightly, because I know that I am totally responsible for her safety. I have even had very real dreams about "Protection" of children.. BTW, the last thing I need are more problems sleeping! That insomnia still likes to visit regularly...
*My daughter watches more TV than I would like her to, because mommy has to have time to cook dinner/wash dishes, insert various household chore here.
*I feel guilty because we don't get to go fun places everyday, like the beach or the park, because we have other things that need to be done, like take the dog to the vet, go to the grocery store, blah, blah, blah
*I love the exclusive snuggle time when it does come. I love every single second of it.
*I'm more tired at night. How in the world do other artist mommies who are single parents find the ENERGY to do their artwork?!?
*The kiddo is now talking up a storm and I LOVE the conversations that we have on walks and in the car. I wish I could record each one and listen to them at night before bed.
*Having said that, I really miss adult conversation. When Laura came over the other night, I felt like I was absorbing every nuance and word that she was saying. I also felt like I talked her ear off. I realized the next morning how much I was missing that.
*My back gets really tired from holding her so much. (she has liked to be held from Day 1 of her life, and I'm speaking of my daughter, not Laura, LOL)
*As hard as all this can be at certain moments, I am glad that I'm the one here and not the one gone for a month. I know I would miss these moments with my daughter so damn much!

She's growing up so fast. I used to hear people say that before I had a daughter, and I never truly understood that phrase. I thought it was just one of those things that people said. NOW I GET IT. And in those moments when I am tired, my back is screaming at me, and she's fighting me to brush her teeth, I am trying to keep that in mind. :)

In the meantime, I'm in the studio when she naps. Hopefully, I'll have a good work session tomorrow.

Goodnight! ~Kelly

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sketchbook update

This is an off-schedule blog post, but I just finished my sketch from this morning and I wanted to share it with you. This chica is calm, cool, and has her sh*t together. Just like the bird. Don't you feel that they have a connection?? Or are they two enemies about to square off for battle?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sneak Peek Friday (A Little Late)

Good evening! I wanted to include this on a Sneak Peek Friday about what was going on in the studio, but hubby came home from stunt school and I decided to spend time with him, instead of typing away on the computer.

On the hubby's stunt school update: they have started the "suicide falls". He jumped 10' into a crash pit the other day. Which doesn't sound like much, but understand that they go up to 40-50' by the end of the course! They are doing some fight-scene kind of stuff, and a whole lot of physical training. I don't think they do any kind of fire stuff or driving skills at this school, but I'm still pretty sure that it is way cooler than anything I'm doing right now!! The guy who runs the school is turning 81 soon, and hubby says that he seems so young and vibrant. You go, boy!!

In the studio, I have started two new pieces. One will be about 36" tall when I'm done and the other will be.... maybe 24" tall. Haven't quite figured that one out yet. My sculptures are slow to build since I work whenever I can around the kiddo's schedule.

The piece in the front is the 36"h piece and the piece in the background is the other one under plastic. The sculptures have just started being formed, with no refining of the shape yet. I generally build up the clay as fast as I can, then spend some time shaping and refining after the clay has dried a bit. This next shot shows the excellent use of my slab roller as an armature table. I do actually use my slab roller, but yesterday, I was building armatures for two more sculptures. Threaded rods, nuts, plywood, wire, all the essentials for armatures...
and the next shot shows a couple of my sketchbooks, where I put all of my scribbles...
And then last, but not least, is my shopping list for Lowe's the other day. This is what I did: wrote it all on the chalkboard in my studio, and then took a picture of that on my iPhone. When I got to Lowe's, I referred to my photo as my list. Gee - think I'm a visual type of person???
So this is what I've been up to all week... It may not look like much to you, but it feels good to me! Have a great Sunday everyone!