Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magic Clay & New Assignments

A friend of mine had recommended to me a paper-embedded clay called Akio that is supposed to be great for larger sculptural works... apparently you can build thicker walls, & experience less cracking, which would be awesome. Problem is, I couldn't find it here. And to pay for shipping from the Pac Northwest... well, that wouldn't be cost effective!

But, as luck would have it, they had a similar product called "magic clay" @ NM Clay in Albuquerque. It's a fiber embedded clay that is supposed to have those same magical qualities: less cracking, more forgiving AND supposedly you can build wet to dry... thus you don't have to worry as much about keeping the clay at a uniform moisture level, which I had some difficulties with on the previous larger works I attempted. I peeled off a strip so you could see the fibers. What a trip, huh? It's like furry clay! :) When the clay is fired, the tiny fibers burn away, leaving just the clay body behind.

Well, I had really been wanting to try this new clay, but had been busy w/ other class assignments (w/another clay body) & life in general, so it has been sitting & waiting. We were given our new assignment (loosely based on the concept "inside out- outside in") so i decided to try this magic clay w/ one of my 2 ideas. I wanted to incorporate the bear in this project, and when I was out hiking the other day, an idea came about making a woman emerging from a bear form. Now, I thought this was an original idea, but it also felt very familiar. A woman in class & I had been talking... a conversation originating from my previous bear projects, about how she had heard that if a bear was skinned, it looked very similar to a human form. I thought the idea I had was perhaps related to that conversation... a relationship between human & animal form, and incorporating the concept of bringing the inside (human form) out. But here's an interesting thing about making art- we are very often influenced consciously or unconsciously by other artists. After several days of thinking, I looked up some Kiki Smith images and found very similar subject matter. But I wanted to go with it, because I did like the idea,  & I've never tried to sculpt the human form. Oh, Geesh, here's some of my sketches so you get the general idea of where I was heading.

Below, building a rough human-like form. Behind it are the bear legs, but I couldn't get it to look quite right, so had to improvise from the original sketches.

Addition of head, arms & bear head, which is hollow & hangs off the side. If you're wondering what that thing is hanging of the left arm, it's supposed to be bear skin ( c'mon, use your imagination!) And the left leg... well it blends into a bear's hind foot, of course!

Addition of hair & attempting to sculpt the body a bit.

The semi- finished piece below.

It's very rough,amateurish, and of course featureless (I need to take a class on sculpting features!) but there's something about it I really like. I think it's actually the "unfinished" look it has to it... the way the woman's legs are not complete, as if she's rising up. Plus, it's a starting point, as well as a test of the Magic Clay. 


Pat said...

I like how you take us step by step through the process. It's so interesting. You are so creative. I like the idea of a woman emerging from a bear. Look up "The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes". It's a story of a momma bear who loses her cubs. This statue reminded me of it just because of a woman coming out of a bear.

John Brisson said...

Hi Becky...I really, really like this one. The 'no facial features' is my favorite part! Allows me to fill in the blanks.

Annie said...

Very interesting and rough, I like the fact that is has an unfinished look. It will be interesting to see it fired and glazed. Keep up the great work! xoxo

clairz said...

Ooh, it's like the selkie myth only with a bear instead of a seal. Love it, can't wait to see more. Becky, your stuff is really fantastic.

When you said the assignment was inside out/outside in, I was imagining the shapes we learned about in our recent math class on topology. Check out a Klein Bottle, for instance--no edges, no outside or inside. I really want to express this idea in a knitting project now...

Wanda..... said...

Rising...that's exactly what it portrays to me...it's simplicity adds to it's charm, Becky.

becky said...

Clair, thanks for the links! How do you put a link within a comment? There's an Inuit legend, too, about Polar Bears shedding their skin & becoming human:
Math- yikes! I am one of those math anxious people. But that topology looks interesting... looked up the Klein bottle & Mobius Strips... rather mind bending! You'd better get to work on that knitting project so I can see what you come up with.

clairz said...

Becky, to put a link in a comment, you must use html tags. For the selkie link, I just surrounded the word "selkie" with two tags, one containing the address, and one to close. So the first tag looks like this:

a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selkie

but enclosed with < >



after the word, but enclosed with < >.

I hope that is clear. I can't put the < > around the tags or they would just turn the word selkie into a link and you wouldn't be able to see how it is done.

There is a nice explanation with examples here.

Anonymous said...

Now, that is a need idea. Clay with built in rebar. I am anxious to see this done. It is already nice.

Dawn said...

Always amazing to me how artists can even come up with ideas to create!!!! Amazing...if I could think HALF of what you do...maybe I could be a bit more creative:)
Good work!
(Your comment on my blog about my dog: he's a Great Pyrenees)

Barb said...

Fascinating to go from the idea in your head to the sketch and then to the clay. The lines of the woman/bear are wonderful, Becky. I like the concept a lot. Will be interested in seeing how it fires.

Randy said...

Becky, what a wonderful idea. Like the others I love seeing the creation of what I believe will be an outstanding piece of art.

Rick said...

Fascinating to watch you go from concept to sculpture ! I'm always amazed at artists who can go from an idea to a tangible objet d'art !

This one is well on the way to becoming a beautiful piece. Looking forward to the final steps.