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Ceramics! September 2, 2008

Posted by Mitchell in Art.
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This class actually started last Tuesday, but tonight is when we actually got started on the first project, and got some pictures.

This is either the third or fourth time I’ve taken this class since the first one in 2000. Well, no – it’s definitely the fourth ceramics class, but there was probably a ceramics II in there somewhere. Anyway, I’m not a stranger to ceramics but this is the first class where I”m only doing hand-built stuff (no wheel throwing) and the first time with this instructor. She has some interesting projects for us and I look forward to learning a lot this semester.

Our first project is a series of mugs, or tumblers with a carrier. There are supposed to be four of these drinking vessels, but considering the size and complexity of my design I’ll probably have to scale back to two mugs. Actually they aren’t really mugs – too big. Tankards? Whatever. Check out the first one I’m working on:

I got a mug on my mug.

I got a mug on my mug.

For a little while it kinda looked like Sylvester Stallone. It still needs a lot of work, but the basic form is definitely there. I’ll put a couple shots from other angles below the fold.


From the side:

Jaw line needs help

Jaw line needs help

My concept sketches have ears, but I think that may be too much. Maybe some really simplified ones wouldn’t be too hard though. We’ll see.

One more from the top:

Into the mug

Into the mug

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Comments

1. Enas Yorl - September 2, 2008

Oh, currently the mug is a bit over 8 inches tall, but it’s gonna shrink quite a bit once it’s fired. I bet it won’t be over six inches tall when it’s done.

2. Lemur King - September 4, 2008

So let me get this straight… no spinny wheel thing, just formed purely by hand?

Definitely cool. Keep posting pictures. This is another area where I know next to nothing beyond “don’t drink the glaze”.

I look at the face and am reminded of the trees… Might you do a sculpture of a tree? That would be an interesting counterpoint to the watercolor.

Or am I so far off base I sound like I’m smoking crack?

3. Enas Yorl - September 5, 2008

Yes, no spinny wheels. We’re armed with rolling pins now. This is an example of working with a slab. I put a hunk of clay onto a canvas sheet and roll it out to a uniform thickness (about 1/4 inch in this case). The slab is then cut to the appropriate size and rolled onto a tube where I join the seam at the back and I have a perfect cylinder to work with from there. I did the face by pushing and pulling from the inside and outside to get the general features, and then adding some clay to build up the more prominent ones. When everything is done I add the bottom and handle then let it dry slowly to avoid cracking (I hope). I’m actually done with this one and started on the second, which is actually going a lot smoother.

Trees – mmm, very problematic would those be for fired clay. It doesn’t do well with unsecured spindly bits that tree branches require. Once the clay is dry and ready to fire the mere act of moving it into the kiln would virtually guarantee lots of breakage. I had a spider-skull thing once that completely fell apart at that stage.

Oh, man. Now I want to try that spider-skull thing again.

4. Lemur King - September 5, 2008

Ok, I was sure wondering how you got the beautiful cylinder shape. That sounds much easier to roll it out.

Are you allowed to use a wire inside of the clay? As a skeleton, I mean. I’d think that different thermal expansion coefficients would potentially be a problem but someone must’ve tried it.

I wasn’t thinking big tall spindly trees as much as Ent shape and stubbier like those Guinness Book of Records trees that look like they’re already dead and sun-bleached but are many hundreds of years old.

Do a spider-skull thing and lay it on me!

5. Enas Yorl - September 6, 2008

Wire armatures – yes those have been around forever. BUT they are not for fired ceramics. When clay is fired in the kiln it shrinks quite a bit – up to or even over 30% for some kinds. Metal of course generally expands with heating, so you get the picture.

Armatures are used with wax or modeling clays which are never fired. Those are then used to make molds from which you can make multiple castings in plaster, bronze, or any number of other various stuffs.

Having said all that, you can use wire meshes and other forms to mold clay on, but you have to be able to get the clay off before it dries.


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