The last set of work I completed closely followed some sketches I had made. This doesn't always happen; I sketch a lot, but often the work changes considerably from the sketch while I am building. Sometimes I sketch, then when I begin to build I sketch a revised version based on what I am building. Anyway, a few weeks ago I looked back at a small sketchbook page with four sketches and I decided to make three of them. Two of them I already wrote about.
|sketch with two arms and one gear|
This third piece changed relatively little in form, though the surface of the base was altered to incorporate more mechanical parts after firing. I threw the base and the three long arms on the wheel. I also threw the bulbs at the top of each arm.
|thrown elements for "arms"|
While building, I decided to use bike chains as the “tail” element coming out of the back of the base. The single gear “neck” of the form is now a three-level gear set and, instead of two “arms” coming out of the gear area, I made three.
|base with gear "neck" mechanical decoration|
This was one of the hardest pieces to plan and execute in wet clay because the long “arms” couldn't hold themselves up when wet. I built five small pieces that insert into the spaces of the gear set so I could plan for the weight of the arms to be supported by the gear set after firing. (The gear set is held onto the base with a clay insert the fits in the middle.)
|gear set with clay pieces for positioning and weight distribution|
I took the gear set and the small pieces off of the base and set it flat on a board where I could plan the position of the arms. I used foam pieces and other supports to hold the arms in place while I aligned them and then attached them to the small pieces inside the gear.
|view of "arms" from below with placement pieces|
I removed the arms and little inserts from the gear and reinforced their attachments. When the arms had stiffened a bit, I balanced them upright in the gear again to be sure they fit. Since the pieces weren't completely dry, I could make some minor adjustments in angles and fit. Of course I also have to account for shrinkage during firing. The inserts will be smaller, meaning they will fit inside the gear more easily, but the space between two inserts on one base will also be smaller, so I need to leave extra space between them.
|checking fit and angle|
While the pieces were wet, and even after they dried, I couldn't confidently balance them on top of the base at the angle they will eventually be attached--I would have to hold the pieces in place and I could cause damage if any pieces slipped or fell. I won't be able to put the whole group together until after firing, and even then I will need some support while they epoxy sets.
|the eventual angle of the arm|
After bisque firing the work, I should be able to test the fit of the arms, but I won't epoxy them in place until after they have been glazed. I won’t be absolutely certain all the parts will stand up correctly until December.
|base and other pieces drying|