Friday, March 4, 2016

What's clay got to do with it?

The oldest piece that I’m willing to share from my giant portfolio of early crap is this figure I made when life was full of dice games and lots of trashy fantasy novels.  Thank you Michael MoorCock, Marion Zimmer Bradley,  Anne McCaffery  and others;   because of you  I wasn’t reading Atlas Shrugged . If I had I’d REALLY be damaged today.

I’ve learned since those early days that I really like playing with clay,  the ability to add and subtract is so much more forgiving than carving  and I don’t need to get my head around trivialities like perspective which always thwarted me when I attempt to paint or draw. The big problem for clay projects is it’s all  pretty damn pointless when you don’t have a kiln.  Without  getting a  bisque firing to toughen up your projects they tend to break very easily , the very reason I only have one piece left from about a dozen small projects I did more than a decade ago. 

 I guess the advantage is that the materials are never truly lost until fired, throw them back in the pail,  re-hydrate the clay and away you go.  The thing is  I could probably scrounge kiln pace with a potter or such but I don’t want to be responsible for that one air bubble which turns my work into a plate wrecking grenade during the firing.    I remember the ire of the artsy types at high school when a stoner looking for an easy grade decimated an entire layer of pieces getting their final glaze.  Like a suicide bomber in Fallujah his giant bong left ugly chunks of itself embedded in the glaze of all pieces nearby.   It was not pretty.
So what now?  I’ve still got a 20 lb block of red clay which I may use to make molds for plaster/dental stone casts.  I’ve seen some very nice work that used plants arranged  and impressed into clay and then removed so the clay can be used for one off molds or eventually turned into silicon molds  for repeated use.   Don't think I'd go into business poaching her style but I might like to try a couple just for the hell of it.

 I’d also like to sculpt a whack of small faces,  this will allow me to work on the actual skill of modeling as I make people who look like monsters, monsters that look like happy bunnies and happy bunnies that look like road kill.  The intent is to make small faces with a little character or whimsy that I can use as amulets for my jewelry fixation and are also small enough that I can fire them in a homemade pit or sawdust kiln in my yard.  Even better if I can find an accomplice with a field we can use so I don’t get the bylaw officers in a tizzy.   There is no way I could produce a glass  glaze with this type of homemade kiln but I should be able to manage some kind of salt glaze giving the pieces more character and protection.  The little faces might also be a good way of involving the children who generally seem disinclined to do arts.  It's also pretty obvious from that first pick I need face practice.

Finally I’d love to learn to throw some pots but neither the price of a wheel nor the effort required to make a DIY one seems worth the effort without a kiln or any real need for more pottery around the house.   (Finding enough homes for one’s crafts is certainly going to a recurring theme in future blog posts. )

Sorry but these post won’t always be about producing an actual project.   Often these offerings will be show and tell, musing about projects , techniques and planning in the hope of receiving feedback, new perspectives or the offer of a field  to build a pit kiln in ;) 

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