As my 15 hand-builders begin to build their first coil project, I have been thinking about what they need to know about the forming process. I have piece in the studio I have been building alongside them (or alongside those who come in outside of class). I have a few smaller pieces I was using to demonstrate surface decoration. I haven't felt able to spend as much time in the studio as I would like (since I have other work that needs to get done), but I do have images from my summer studio work.
I sketch a lot, though I don't always make what I sketch. I sketch during the year and in the summer, In the summer I sketch ideas I will create soon. During the year (when I am not in the studio as much) I sketch so that I can record my idea and save it for my summer studio time. The sketches give me something to work towards, especially if I am feeling stuck or if I don't have an immediate plan for something to start on.
I also keep a lot of stuff in my studio to remind me of forms I might want to build or and surfaces I might want to incorporate into my work.
Starting my forms
My sculpture is built using coil, pinch and wheel throwing methods. I started off using mostly coil building because I found it to be the most direct and natural way of working. My building methods evolved to be less strictly coil than a loose combination of squished coils and pinched wads of clay.
After I started teaching throwing classes regularly, I started incorporating the wheel into my sculpture building process. I would throw all quarter and have trouble leaving it when my summer studio time began. This past summer I would throw a bunch of parts one day and then use these parts to build for the next two weeks. My work is too asymmetrical and twisty to use the wheel exclusively. Plus, I'm not that patient.
I sometimes also pinch and coil a set of parts before I begin building or while I am waiting for pieces to stiffen up enough to be worked on. These pinched and coiled forms are also combined into larger forms.
|throwing a middle section for a sculpture (hollow to floor)|
|throw pieces that will be modified off the wheel|
|thrown sphere (on "the hump")|
|Thrown pieces will be kept tightly wrapped under plastic until I am ready to work with them. By two weeks they are too dry to use.|
When I use the wheel I usually start several pieces at once. The wheel thrown elements can dry a little but need to be wet enough to be attached to coils or other throwing work.
|scoring edge of thrown pieces|
|shaping edge of thrown piece for attachment|
|attaching two thrown pieces together|
|paddling seam of attached pieces|
|attaching third thrown section|
|piece is laid on its side for more shaping and finishing|
Some of my work combines mostly thrown pieces (as above), but usually I hand-build onto the thrown pieces and the form of the sculpture develops more organically.
|pinching coils onto the open end of a thrown form|
|I often work on foam or on my lap because pieces don't have a flat base.|
|the same piece later that day|
attaching a pinch formed cone shape