Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wary Green Bird

Wary Green Bird. Stoneware with matte green glaze, approx 9" tall. Private collection.

Since the switch to an electric kiln, my sculpture has suffered.  This is the newest bird.  In an earlier posting, I wrote of the process of making these guys.  Didn't have much luck then, because 50% of the birds developed cracks in the glaze fire. I switched to paperclay.  No cracks in the second round! I like this one, but the second bird in the paperclay batch did not take the stain/glaze combination well. . The bits of green and blue glaze all came out looking like grasshopper spit (didn't waste a shutter-click on that one). So again, only a 50% success rate.
Paperclay I'm not in love with.  It was harder to carve--couldn't see the details for the mold that infused the clay (I would have to buy the clay the day I press it, I guess). And the particles of paper would gunk up my tools a bit. In addition, the porosity caused the glaze failure I'm guessing.

We've slowed down the fire, so I'm going back to paperless clay. Eventually, something will work.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Goblin with His Bowl and Favorite Green String

Goblin with His Bowl and Favorite Green String, watercolor, approx. 4" x 4".  This little guy began as a sketch years ago, then progressed to a watercolor sketch left unfinished for a few more years. Re-drew him a couple of days ago and finally gave him his due.

He's definitely from the tradition of Brueghel and Bosch--artists I've studied and admired for years.  Brian Froud and lots of other great illustrators have carried on the tradition of drawing little people dragging or wearing their pots and pans around.

This fellow has straw on his head (a symbol of insanity in 19th century art). Or maybe it's hair, in which case he's just crabby, and then the piece of string has no special significance to him.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Six different Hollerers from two different molds

So far six are completed and ready to be bisque fired.  Each one is carved differently, and have eyballs and teeth in place.  I hope they stay put.  Not sure how I'll finish them, leaning toward stain for some, stain and glaze for others.

It doesn't take very long to cast them so I will have plenty to experiment with.  The carvings and details take a bit longer, but it is very fun to play with the differences, even when they are subtle.

My aim is to produce original artworks that are unique but also affordable, so that folks can own a one-of-a-kind without spending a ton of money.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A little guy figure--Hollerer I

Made a little guy figure--a Hollerer--split him in half, and cast the two halves in plaster. He purposely didn't get much detail, as the freedom to mess with the detail later is what I like.  That way each fellow is different.

Banded the halves together and filled them with porcelain slip. Have to wait and keep topping it off--the level goes down as the moisture in the slip absorbs into the plaster.  The mold in the back is Hollerer II, but haven't photographed him yet.
Once the slip looks thick enough, and seems firm, I can pull apart the mold.  Then, because I usually rush the process, the little guy has to be carefully pried out.  The wait-time varies, because as the mold is re-used it gets a bit more moist and doesn't absorb quite so fast.  I figure I wait about 30-60 minutes depending.
There's a Hollerer I pulled out to soon, and had to let him firm up on foam because he sagged and threatened to collapse when I tried to set him on his feet.
Once he's able to stand, (me too) I can start carving him. You can see I pretty much screwed this figure up from the beginning, as the cut figure didn't quite match up when I first cast him in plaster.  No big deal though.
Started the carving.  It's a cool process--I love the way leather-hard clay feels as the loop tool cuts it away.  It has a bit of a waxy feel.  Next post I'll show the finish sequence and maybe Hollerer II, if I can get organized enough to snap a few more pics.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nanny Lost Her Cat

Nanny Lost Her Cat. Acrylic on canvas, 4" x 4". Been looking at lots of Victorian ambrotypes, and seems they are influencing my work.  This little pic of the Nanny looking for her mischievous cat continues a fascination I've developed for those weirdly opaque spectacles folks used to wear (somehow got the idea they were green--probably a vestige from the Oz books). 

Now going back to some unfinished watercolors.  All this switching back and forth between acrylic and watercolor is messing with my brain.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Some new clay birds

Using the molds I made (explained in an earlier posting), these are cast in paperclay.  Was less than successful with the birds done before, as two of them developed cracks in the electric kiln glaze fire--something that never happened when I had access to a gas kiln.  After reading up a bit, I decided to try paperclay because the carving takes too much time to risk cracking, and I just don't know enough about the electric kiln yet. 
The paperclay was workable, but was riddled with mold throughout by the time I got around to pressing it into the molds.  The black mold in the white clay body made it harder for me to carve, only because the marbled coloring got in the way of my ability to see the detail clearly. But I like these guys nonetheless. They're stained now, and will have some glazes applied before the glaze fire.
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