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.