Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sculpture in Pieces, step by step

Integrating bike parts into ceramic sculpture requires parts, planning and conceptualizing the clay building process in pieces. Some of the parts I build are sketched before I begin and then I build them much as I sketched. The design for others needs to be revised partway through the process.

bike part

In the assortment of sketches below some are being built much like I planned, others have not been started. The sketch at the bottom right is based on the bike pedal part above. I have started to build this part and it has gone much as I originally planned.

planning sketches

I threw several bulb shapes off the hump on the pottery wheel. Once I shaped the bulb base to be round, I pressed the bike pedal part into the bulb where I wanted it to attach. With the metal pushed into the wet clay, I wiggled the metal back and forth, up and down to create an enlarged impression in the side of the clay. I then cut out a hole to accept the piece of the metal that sticks out. I cut a second, smaller hole to insert a bolt through the metal into the clay. These metal parts and bolts will be attached after firing and glazing.

bulb with place for attachment

I also made some ceramic bolts (seen in the background of the picture above). I don't know if I will use ceramic bolts or metal bolts, but making them allows me the option to use either. The ceramic bolts can be shaped exactly how I want them and can be glazed but they are weaker than the metal bolts.

how the bike part will fit

I threw the base form for this piece as well. The sketch shows a soft, low bulbous form, but the form I threw is taller, though still soft and curved. While the form was wet I pressed the bike pedal parts into the soft clay to create an impression. I enlarged this impression just like I did with the bulbs. I also cut a hole for a bolt or possibly a rod that will connect both pedal pieces to the clay after firing. 

placing bike parts

I created impressions of some small metal pieces I have in the studio. These impressions were likewise enlarged and the metal pieces will be attached after glazing and firing. I added ceramic sprigs made from small molds of bike parts. I attached sprigged bolts and drilled holes for real bolts to be added later. 

sprigs and spaces for later additions

Though the pieces are separate now, and missing much of their character, I hold the vision in my mind of how they will later attach. I have to wait for the pieces to dry and be bisque fired to check that they clay has shrunk without warping or getting too small to fit. I can then hold the parts in place, but I won't attach them until after glaze firing. I can't tell for absolute certain that the pieces fit correctly together and hold each other well until I begin the epoxy process. I don't plan to begin epoxying pieces until late November or December this year.

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