Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happiness is...

...glorious sunshine, a heatwave that feels more Cypriot than British, making a lump of clay into a sculptural form while listening to a Bach cantata blasting in my ears via the headphones of my MP3 player, oh, and a bottomless pot of tea.
Making sculpture, whether it is as a carving or modelled from clay, involves the whole spectrum of activity. At the beginning it is quite brutal and aggressive. The rough form is made. When I've made large pieces in the past it has not been unknown to start by taking an axe to the piece of wood. Then there is the carving out of the rough shape, done with a 2kg mallet and large gouge and sending schrapnel flying in all directions. That then gives way to more detailed carving with a lighter touch, then to delicate tap-tapping and finally hand chiseling, just shaving away fine flakes. Then the sanding and polishing and little adjustments here and there.
Modelling in clay has a similar pattern; first the clay is thumped and squeezed to expel air pockets, then roughly moulded into a semblance of shape, then cut and modelled with tools using a technique not dis-similar to carving then smooth with fingers, brush, shaper and a little slip applied here and there. Slip is sloppy clay, rather like slurry which is used either as a sort of glue for to put two pieces of clay together or to smooth the finished surface.
The whole process can be quite absorbing and exciting as the piece finally comes into being. Such is the joy of making art. The picture shows a piece I did today. It stands about 20 cm (8") tall. It now needs to dry out, - slowly. In this heat, no mean task. It has been sprayed with a fine mist of water and covered in a plastic bag to slow the evaporation/drying. If it dries to quickly the whole thing will start to crack. It may be some time before it gets cast. Ideally as a bronze but more likely finish up as a plaster cast. Its much cheaper as plaster, I can probably do it myself whereas bronze casting will involve taking it to a foundry and I could end up paying the wrong side of £200 to have it done.
But... if someone out there would like a bronze of it then let me know.

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