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

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Beast!!!

While certainly not my best work, "The Beast" has made it out of the kiln intact, and since I put so much time into it I thought I'd go ahead & post the process. While the other bears in the Polar Series had been large hollow coiled pieces... our assignment for class was to build a solid project & then hollow it out. I had done that before with smaller pieces... say with maybe 3 pounds of clay... so I thought "No Problema!" And, since I'm  always up for a challenge, (ha!) when our instructor gave us guidelines of 25-100 pounds of clay... I chose 100. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Let me begin by saying that simply trying to mash together 100 pounds of clay (four 25# bags) proved to be quite a challenge, let alone trying to manipulate that much weight into anything resembling a Polar Bear. Above is my rough start, which took most of the day to achieve.

Then came the hollowing process. I took a wire & cut it in half... I suppose I was a little impatient... I really needed to let it set up a bit more first.

The hollowing process was a royal pain in the butt & I just could not figure out why anyone would want to work this way! (To illustrate this point- everyone else in class did the project with 25# of clay... only one other woman chose to go for 100# as I did... and she got so frustrated that she abandoned the project!) As you can see above, the head fell off because the clay was still a bit too soft to be hollowed at that stage. Ooops~ learning curve strikes again!

At any rate, I slipped & scored, put it back together & began building the head.

After many hours, I got to the stage you see above. Only problem was that it felt as if it still weighed a ton, thus would take forever to dry, so I set about trying to thin down the walls a bit from the inside.

Thinking I had done a pretty decent job, I made some slabs & sealed off the feet & flipped it upside right again. But it was still too heavy!!! Aarrrrgh!!
At that point, I decided to carve into it to take off some weight. I carved & carved, trying to be careful not to carve so much that I broke through... which I did. I was far too frustrated to take pictures at that stage, but basically, I then needed to cut a fist sized hole in the abdomen so I could fit my hand in, so as to do the repairs from the inside out. After what seemed like a gazillion hours later, I got to the stage you see below & called it good enough!

It took a couple of weeks to dry... made it through the bisque just fine & I glazed it up with the same glaze formula from the polar series. This time the glaze came out way different than the others... I think in part due to uneven glazing & not enough glaze. I could try reglazing & re-firing, but I am just not crazy enough about him to put forth any more effort!

Poor little guy... he looks a little sad in this pic, no?
Here are a few more views~

Soda Fired Polar Bear Sculpture
Dimensions: H: 12" W: 11"  L: 20"

Looking at the dimensions, this one is a fair amount smaller than the others in the series~ even though I started with so much more clay!

*In other clay news- I'm totally looking forward to tomorrow... I've got another big bear coming out of the kiln (I hope it didn't crack!!) & will post if it comes out o.k. I am also excited to announce that I'll be participating in my first ever ceramics sale at the community college here in Santa Fe next week!

I'd love to see you, so be sure to stop by & say hi if you're in town... and wish me luck!!


Gail said...

I love your work.

I've always wanted to work in clay but no kiln. Is there a clay that can be safely air dried?

DirtKicker Pottery said...

Hi Becky, Your work just keeps getting more and more beautiful. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving :)

clairz said...

Sometimes what might seem like a crazy assignment ends up being the best learning experience. I love the texture on this guy. Am amazed that starting with all that clay resulted in a project this small. I have no idea of clay weight and mass, of course.

Wish I were at the other end of the state. I would love to go to your sale! Good luck with it, and take lots of pictures if there is time away from the cash register.

Annie said...

LUCK!!! I know you will sell at the sale.
I love this beast, I love the texture, so much work, glad he made it through.
I love all the bears, they are your magic bullet.
Wish I could come for the sale, but nothing, but work ahead, we will find a way to get together soon.xoxo

marianne said...

i actually quite like him, but sure understand that after all of that work he may not be your fave! wish i could come & buy some of your beautiful pottery at the sale- have fun!

Barb said...

Glad I didn't miss this, Becky! I've been hoping he'd make it through the fire. He almost looks carved from wood. What a lot of work! Wish I could come see your sale. Hope all goes well.

Kate said...

Clariz isn't the only one who wants to go to your sale. Rats! Why do I live here in MN when my heart is in NM! If I were Clariz, I'd make a trip to SF to your sale, and I think I'll write and tell her so!

Randy mentioned today on my blog that he had met you. I'm jealous about that, too.

I love your story about "da bear!" Lots of hard work, Becky!!

Tammie Lee said...

i would come to your sale if i was in the area! wishing you a wonderful sale.

whoa to this bear and what you went through to create it. makes me wonder if someday you will create very large sculptures.

Randy said...

Becky, it was marvelous to meet you too and I just love love love my bear. He looks great in my office! I went to the Baca Street studio tour today. I was really more impressed with the sale at SFCC. I will keep you posted regarding my final. I should have worked on it today but I needed a break. Tomorrow it's work work work.

Barb said...

Hope your sale went well Becky. I've been thinking of you.