Thursday, July 7, 2016

First Summer 2016 Sculpture(s) in Progress (2 of 3)

the top of this sculpture, in progress
Earlier this week, I posted images of my first sculpture of the the summer, but this week and last, I worked on three sculptures concurrently. This post shows my progress on another first sculpture of the summer.

thrown forms for this sculpture

I work on several pieces at the same time because it is more efficient. I like to throw pieces in one day and then clean up my wheel, so I throw about 25 lbs of parts, and then build with those parts for the next week or two. After I build on it for a while, a piece usually needs to stiffen up a little before I can continue building on it. Having a second or third form to work on allows the first piece to set up while I work on the next.

the simple base of this sculpture with bike parts
I've had an idea for the top of this piece since May. On a walk to school, I saw a plant that had closed buds on one side and open flowers on the other;  it got me thinking about a similar contrast of forms on a ceramic sculpture.

inspiration flowers

I made the closed and open forms, first. I didn't take many pictures because I was generally using both hands for these forms. I threw closed bulb shapes for all ten of the forms, then sliced half of them open and incised lines in the other half.

an open bulb in progress

Then I built up the split base using coils added to a simple thrown form, I split the form and coiled the two knobby parts closed at the top. After these knobby parts and the base set up for a few days, I added the closed and open forms on top.

the base and top sections with and without bulbous additions

The closed forms were attached on one side first, which made the whole piece a little tippy on the banding wheel. I attached the open forms on the next day and the whole form is most stable, though naturally the sculpture is a little top heavy now.

bulbous additions (open and closed) in progress

Each side of the top has five bulbous forms altered to represent closed and open buds. There is a space in the inside of each set of bulbous forms that is open and was smooth and plain after I added the bulbs. 

closed bulbous forms
Later, I decided to add some texture inside both interior spaces. It was fairly easy to add small sprigs in between the closed forms, but adding them in between the open forms was tricky because my fingers couldn't reach. I ended up dropping the sprigs inside and then attaching them with a rubber tip tool. 

sprigs inside the closed form
The base of the sculpture is fairly simple in form. the focal point is naturally the large top section, but I seem to be incapable of not decorating a surface.  I ended up using three types of decoration: gear sprigs, impressed stamps with a swirl pattern, and round plain sections meant to hold on some bicycle parts.

base and base detail

The addition of bicycle parts will naturally complicate the base section. I haven't entirely planned how this will look on the bottom yet.

crack repair and support with fabric

Just as I was finishing the texture inside the bulbs, the sculpture developed a small crack at the split between the two top bulb sections. I should have known this would happen, look at all that weight on either side of the base. I should have made the transition more gradual, reinforced it better, or used some external support armatures. Since I didn't do those things, I decided to tied a strip of cloth around the heavy sections, reinforce the seam from the top, and hope for the best.

sculpture selfie (the lighting is better facing into the studio, but taking pictures that way is tough)

The end result may be that the piece redevelops the crack during drying or firing. I'm keeping in mind the conversation I had with Beth Cavener last summer in Montana. She was working on a sculpture that she had made in pieces because she wanted to attach the front paw after firing so that she could control the position. Previously I have heard her explain that she attaches the fired pieces together, but I challenge anyone to find her seams. I've also used epoxy quite a bit with my bike part pieces. I can use it on a seam too. (In fact, maybe next time I should build these two parts separately and attach them once they are fired. They'd fit in the kiln more easily.)

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