Sunday, June 10, 2012

The making of a Commissioned Piece

I've been trying to write this post for so long!! It's just embarrassing that it has taken so long to do this.  Around my house, it is difficult to get a 30 minute window of peace in order to work on the computer!  Ah, the joys of having two young children in the household... :)

I have been wanting to share these photos with you.  This is the commissioned piece I told you about here, and I photographed the stages of building that I went through when making this piece.  I build these pieces out of solid clay, just forming it with my hands into the rough shape I am looking for.  It helps me to be able to see the whole piece as one, rather than working from top to bottom or vice versa.  Then using a wood rasp, I further refine the shape.  Smoothing comes next, as the wood rasp leaves a pretty deep texture.  I like to have the pieces relatively smooth even though I am going to add lots of texture.  It helps me to see the smoothness of the 3-D curves.  Then the fun begins.  I get to start adding texture to the piece!  I use anything and everything to make texture.  No object is safe if it has a cool texture on it :)  I use everything from cabinet knobs to chopsticks to rubber stamps to cake decorating tools.  I have even used the bottom of my shoe!

So after the texture is satisfactory to me, I start to hollow out the form.  I just start by digging into the back using a clay tool.  Here you can see the pile of trimmings as I worked.  I'm trying to get relatively even thicknesses in the walls of the sculpture.  I try to get about a 1/4" thick wall or maybe a tad more.  

I have rolled out a slab of clay for the back, and scored the back of the sculpture in preparation for attaching the back.  Scoring it and adding liquid clay creates a sticky glue-like surface.  Now I can attach the back and smooth out the seam.

I like to add a little keyhole for hanging, and then sign the bottom of the piece.  Now the next step is to let it dry for a while (3-7 days), and then fire it the first time.  Even the firing takes about 1.5 days with the actual firing and then for the kiln to cool!

I told my client that they could choose whatever colors they wanted for the finished piece, so it hasn't been glazed yet.  However, I will try to photograph those steps and share them as well!

Hope everyone is doing well this summer!


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