"Nothing Happens Unless it is First a Dream..."
~ Carl Sandburg
I have a crazy dream. Don't ask me why exactly... but I want to build a life size Polar Bear out of clay. Surely it has something to do with my love of these fierce, majestic creatures, but the idea has probably been percolating for quite some time. Maybe the seed was planted somewhere between making my first little clay creation here, doing this project for an entry level ceramics class at SOU, and finding Lawrence Argent's work online here. (Seriously- watch the video in that post... it's a lot of fun!) Anyhow so here I am, starting a new clay class with some pretty BIG IDEAS! So, needless to say, I was a bit deflated when I discussed my BIG IDEAS with my new instructor and was met with just a little opposition. The words that met my ears went something like this, "there's not enough space... you'd need too much one-on-one instruction... it would cost a lot of money for that much clay..." and something along the lines of "it would be a miracle... like flying to Mars." OK, OK... I get the point!! And seriously, although I was very disappointed... I could see his point. The studio space is small, and perhaps my dreams are a bit lofty considering my limited clay experience. But, dang it, that's what I'm here for... to pursue my creative dreams... no matter how lofty! And I can tell you... it brought up some of the same issues I've been struggling with for years. I thought... shoot, If I just had my own home with a little studio (or even a garage!) I could just start working on these dreams... in my own space, in my own time. But that just isn't a reality at this point. I even tried to think of how I could start in my teeny tiny apartment, but clearly in that small of a space, it wasn't going to work. Sooooooo, I said to myself: "Beck's, you've just got to put aside what you want to do at this time & just be open to all the things you can learn from this particular class." Then, lo & behold, my instructor had a change of heart. While I can't go as big as I had originally dreamed, he did conjure up some space so I can at least go a little larger... and then who knows~ maybe next semester I'll have the skills to go really big! So, my self assigned homework was to start working on techniques at home. Here's some of my results (unfired/unglazed) & process.
The thing is you can't go too big as a solid hunk of clay, otherwise it'll just blow up. So for the one above I hollowed out the center, but left the head & legs solid... that's a little risky, but I did poke holes through them to create air chambers... so we'll see. It's all a learning process at this point. On the second one below, I started from one hunk of clay, & hollowed out the whole bear.
I know, you're wondering, how do you go about doing that?!? So glad you asked... as you know how much I love to document process!
Well, you start with a wire, and cut the poor little guy in half.
I've never actually done this before, so I wasn't sure how it was going to work.
Anyhow, once you've got your two halves, you just start scooping out "the guts" until you have a relatively even shell.
Then, you slip & score the edges, apply a slurry mixture of clay & water, then kinda gently squish it back together, pressing & smoothing at the seams until it appears seamless.
And, Whala! Many hours later- finito! I actually have no idea if this will turn out as I'm kinda winging it, but I am hopeful it will work. If not, I'll be learning from my mistakes in trying different techniques, and that is not a a bad place to be.