Galleries, Sculpture

Making Sculpture

Making ceramic sculpture what ever process you use from the original sketches  and on through the ceramic processes is a gradual slow exercise that can take several months and needs peace and quiet in which to concentrate.

I start with very general ideas, looking at source material, reading on connected subjects until I feel at home with the subject and as it begins to gel more specific sketches for reference, then colour tests of clay , slips, and glaze when needed, so that the sculptural piece starts with a particular and definite palette.
Sometimes full sized drawings  are needed- especially for figures, but I usually prefer to work in an open ended fashion allowing the way the materials and colours behave to dictate the direction of the piece, only keeping in mind the general size of the pieces  I would like to end up with. This approach allows for the freshness and immediacy that is a vital part of my work but  also means that they are very much one offs, and not repeatable! This means  that sculptural pieces are usually created in groups  focussed around the same subject and colour range.

When it comes to the clay work  on a practical level I chose the clay appropriate to the idea, [normally an earthenware for its warmth + texture], mix up the main slips and choose colours, oxides + tools. The work surface benches are usually folded flat on the floor so that working is easier especially on large pieces and I can view them easily from above.
Since I work largely on flattish surfaces [to be wall  mounted] slabs of clay  for a sculpture are sliced and laid out on the surface on paper   so they can shrink without cracking+ when undulating padded out with paper to help hold the forms as they slowly  dry and shrink.
When dried leather hard  slips and surface decoration are gradually added and the pieces  continue to dry out. Any thick slabs are now carved out from the back to aid drying and reduce weight.
When dry after a number of weeks the pieces are very slowly fired,  and then fired  again with any glaze if used. Finally when the final layout is resolved, only the sculptures that work well will  have fixings for hanging  added to the backs of the slabs, the pieces are then finally hung, catalogued and photographed ready for exhibition.

click on images to enlarge.