For a painter, it may be a blank canvas. For a printmaker, a copper plate or block of wood. For a clay loving girl with Big Ideas... my blank canvas is a couple of bags of clay & a space to work. Given some of the dilemmas in class, I decided to start working at home & see what I could do. (Have I mentioned how small my place is??) My goal was essentially just to push my own boundaries of what I could do w/ clay & to experiment w/ going bigger... with limited knowledge on how to go about doing it.
For my first work space, I covered my little kitchen table with canvas and tried to keep things neat & orderly... ha ha! What was I thinking?! It soon looked like this~
I know, I know... what a mess! But once I started, I was committed to seeing it through... which made my little apartment less of living space & more of a studio. I started with legs... building a foundation first. Beginning with the coil method, I then added slabs to build up. After many hours, I had four misshapen "legs." These I brought over to workspace # 2... just a few feet from my kitchen to my living room. (I had gotten a piece of scrap board from Home Depot, some canvas & blankets & placed on the ottoman... and Whala! A stable workspace.)
I have to admit, I was beginning to feel a bit frustrated at this point. Not just at my lack of skill, but at the lack of adequate space... and the fact that despite my best efforts, I seemed to be getting clay everywhere! But I had to keep going!
I rolled out some more slabs and began to build the belly,
and the sides of the body. Each slab must be slipped & scored, and you must try to keep a the moisture level at a consistent level, otherwise they won't adhere properly to each other, and can crack or explode in the kiln. Hence the bag over the neck- trying to keep it moist while letting the midsection dry/stiffen up just a bit.
Adding more slabs... piece by piece. Too big of a slab will just collapse.
The body in its rougher form. Rolled foam to support the weight outside...
Hmmmm... this is where things got really frustrating: the addition of the head. I wasn't sure if I should build a loose formed head & attach, or keep going piece by piece. I chose the former... and that just didn't work~ so I cut the head off & continued with building from the neck out.
This was tricky work!
And I found it hard to maintain the shape of the head.
The last addition... closing the form.
Still not happy w/ the shape of the head... I tried paddling it into shape, which ended up making the head even smaller. I thought at this point it looked more like a giant thumb!
So, I had to do surgery... and split his head open to try & widen it a bit.
Still too small, but at this point, having redone the head three times, I was done!
I was going to leave it at that, but it was looking a little "bald" to me, so I decided to add some features.
I'm not so great at features, which is why I usually leave the face blank!
The semi- finished bear, shown with others I've created to show scale. It's about a foot tall & roughly 2 feet in length.
While not at all realistic (I call it my "cartoon bear") and perhaps having a head that resembles Yoda... It seems to be drying well & with only some tiny superficial (I hope) cracking on the underbelly. We'll see what happens... It's still got quite a bit of drying... then there's the transport from apartment to school... and if it survives all that, into the kiln it will go! So, only time will tell. It's all a learning experience right?
But I'll tell you what... I don't think I'll be trying to build anything this large again in my little place anytime soon!