The History & The Influence: Confessions of a Plagiarist, sort of…
This is one of those titles that just seems to fit. Was I watching Evita and the image of Madonna hiding a high note stuck in my head? Who knows for sure? There is a great deal of strength coming from this female figure and at the time of its creation, the strongest woman in the global psyche was Madonna’s Evita. The form follows my near obsession with African art and the many figures in Picasso’s pantheon of neo-Greek explorations.
The Technique: How I did this awesomeness!
I used a stoneware clay body because the grogged clay dries slower and holds better forms for the long arms. Starting with quarter-inch slabs and working it in a soft-leather-hard state, I cut and formed the various parts: arms, head, torso, and base. Attaching them all together with some scoring and slip. I let it sit to dry for about thirty mins, before using a damp sponge to smooth out the seams and scoring the scars on the base. Then I covered it in a sheet of newsprint and dry-cleaner’s plastic to dry slowly for about a week. Then I pulled it out, evaluated and repaired any flaws I saw, before letting dry to bone-dry state and sending to be bisque-fired.
The base is thickly painted with a few coats of black stain. The body is painted in alternating coats of Glossy Black & Pinel Green glazes. The result after the firing of this glazing method remains unpredictable in that it isn’t clear how much of each glaze will rise to be dominant. Finishing with the Pinel green glaze seems to give it more prominence.
You can win with one hand tied behind your back When you live with The Artist’s Stuff: Prints, Fashion, and awesome Decor.
Books that Inspired and Influenced my Experimentation:
These are perhaps the most obvious influences, but the truth is that my influences run deep through thousands of books and works I’ve seen & read. If you have the time, you are free to visit my GoodReads library to see a fraction of the books I’ve read. These are the ones I remember, that is. Or you can visit the ever-growing collection on my Pinterest account.
Electric Kiln Ceramics: A Guide to Clays and Glazes by Richard Zakin
Working with Clay by Susan Peterson
The Craft and Art of Clay by Susan Peterson
Slab-built Ceramics by Coll Minogue
The Art of Handbuilt Ceramics by Susan Bruce
Mastering Raku: Making Ware * Glazes * Building Kilns * Firing by Steven Branfman
500 Raku: Bold Explorations of a Dynamic Ceramics Technique by Ray Hemachandra, Jim Romberg
Masters: Earthenware: Major Works by Leading Artists by Ray Hemachandra (Editor), Matthias Ostermann
The Unknown Craftsman: A Japanese Insight Into Beauty by Soetsu Yanagi, Bernard Leach (Adapted by), Shoji Hamada (Foreword)
Decorating Techniques (Ceramics Class) by Joaquin Chavarria
The Figure in Clay: Contemporary Sculpting Techniques by Master Artists by Lark Books, Suzanne J.E. Tourtillott
Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics by Marc Lancet
500 Figures in Clay: Ceramic Artists Celebrate the Human Form by Veronika Alice Gunter
Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence by Andrew Juniper
Potter’s Guide to Ceramic Surfaces by Jo Connell
The Ceramic Glaze Handbook: Materials, Techniques, Formulas by Mark Burleson
Fired Up with Raku: Over 300 Raku Recipes by Irene Poulton
Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics: A Close Embrace of the Earth by Louise Allison Cort, Bert Winther-Tamaki
Modern Japanese Ceramics: Pathways of Innovation & Tradition by Anneliese Crueger, Wulf Crueger, Saeko Ito
Robin Hopper Ceramics: A Lifetime of Works, Ideas, and Teachings by Robin Hopper
Slab Techniques (Ceramics Handbook) by Jim Robison, Ian Marsh
Sculptural Ceramics by Ian Gregory
Handbuilt Ceramics: Pinching * Coiling * Extruding * Molding * Slip Casting * Slab Work by Kathy Triplett, Lark Books
The Penland Book of Ceramics: Master Classes in Ceramic Techniques by Lark Books
Ceramics – Ways of Creation by Richard Zakin
Surface Design for Ceramics by Maureen Mills
The Materials: Quick! Order this stuff right now, AND You too can make masterpieces!
Clays: I’ve used mostly Cone 6 clays from Pottery Supply House:
SHEBA RAKU CLAY: The Review: In its raw state, it is an ugly finish. It changes the chemical reaction and thus the colors of the glazes used on it. It has a finer grog in it and is a great clay for beginner hand-builders. Oddly, it loves Pete Pinel’s green glaze. Also works beautifully with matte glazes.
These were usually private mixes from the studios I worked in. I never asked for the recipes. When I graduated to the private studio, under the mentorship of porcelain master Marie Cote, I used her clear glaze as the base for all my experimentation and mixes. It was the most robust and versatile glaze available and allowed me to mix in pure pigments and metals without runoff or kiln incidents. Make sure to ask your local supplier for a stable clear glaze and play with it.
Stains, Engobes, & Underglazes:
These are the ones I’ve played with the most to make my own:
You can play with Other Raw Pigments, but make sure you ask for what’s in them & if they can mix with your glazes. Certain minerals and metals will cause your glazes to crackle or drip off the surface during firing, and some may cause explosions.
You can get these awesome starter kits:
1- niceEshop 30pcs Clay Sculpting Tools Pottery Carving Tool Set Wooden Handle Modelling Clay Tools with Pouch Bag
2- Celendi Professional Sculpture Carving Tool Set: The review: Both of these sets give you a vast range of possibilities for turning, hand-building, carving, trimming, and marking.
Some of my tools come from Pottery Supply House or Sial. Some I made myself. Marking tools really come from your imagination and almost anything can be used. You can spend a small fortune for them or make them yourself. You can get loads of materials from the dollar store to make them.
Brushes & applicators:
I found that Calligraphy Brushes & Bamboo Brushes worked the best and I indulged in a variety of big ones. They hold much more glaze and helped me achieve more uniform coatings when I wasn’t dipping the bisqued pieces. They also allowed me the finer tips for greater details when wanted.
You can easily get squeeze bottles from the dollar store, but the drip control is better with pro tools.
If you are uncertain of what to get, simply order a few or all of the following:
Note: Some of these brushes can be found at local art supply stores as well.
Miscellaneous: I also mixed into my glazes and onto the surface of my clays, asphalt, beach sand, glass beads & marbles, gold, silver, & copper wire, and a variety of metal dust. Some came from pottery supply houses, some from hardware stores, some simply found.
Warning: I don’t suggest you use any of these without supervision or the go-ahead from an experienced kiln technician or master potter. Some of these release gazes in the kiln that causes other glazes to change color, drip off the pieces, and they may even explode in the kiln. I used my knowledge of chemical reactions combined with the careful study of firing mistakes to create my results. And, I always had the benefit of masters advising me on the potential dangers.
Photoshop for Mac: The Review: You could use the free “ MAC Photos” program or Picassa and possibly get the similar results, but Photoshop offers you the flexibility of presenting yourself as a pro photographer, like no other program. There’s a reason it’s considered the best of the best, after all. So, this allows you the possibility of selling this service to others and funding more of your creativity
Apple MacBook Pro 15.4″ Laptop: The Review: You may choose to get an iMac for the bigger screen, and I couldn’t disagree with the beauty of working with the 24” screen. I picked the laptop, because of the need to be mobile and the flexibility of multi-purposing it to use for client demos. As an alternative to the weight of this model, I would suggest the MacBook Air 13”. Most of us have become accustomed to mobile device size screens and it is much easier to carry around.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR: The Review: My first DSLR camera was the EOS Rebel T3. This one is vastly superior to the old model. Canon has a well-deserved reputation of having top rated cameras. It requires a little play time to master it, and that time will be lessened by defining a clear idea of what you want to do with it, then jumping on YouTube for the multitude of How To videos. If you want a smaller camera to carry around, try Canon EOS M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera OR go small & powerful with the Canon PowerShot Digital Camera with 3-Inch LCD & built-in wifi.
Canon PIXMA MX492 Inkjet Printer: The Review: For me, this has been the easiest to use for cleaning and cartridge replacement. It works reasonably well with recycled inks and the wireless is easy to set-up. The Canon has worked best for me on ink usage. When purchasing printers, always consider the cost of ink replacement… for the most part, this is the big difference right now in printers. For big reproduction lines, it is better to outsource. For scanning, they are as good as the camera in them… this is one reason I’m a fan of Canon products. It does do a nice job on printing photos on good photo paper, and the black print is crisp and clean, provided you do regular cleanings and keep it dust free.