Working in the Studio
My sculptures are originals and many times people ask if they are body casts. My torso, face and goddess designs begin with sculpting an original sculpture, taking care to get the surfaces as smooth as possible. After sculpting the figure, I make a plaster mold on the piece. Then I can recreate the form with new variations, building up strips of textured clay in the plaster slump mold. The strips of clay are textured using rubber or plaster texture molds, which I have made. I use a clay that is mostly porcelain and is very stretchy, allowing me to distort my patterns. Shapes and patterns that I see in nature inspire me and things that I find while hiking or beach combing are likely to be used for texture molds. I assemble thin layers of textured clay, slapping them on the work table stretching and pulling to distort the patterns. These textured layer elements are carefully arranged in the plaster torso mold and gently worked together from the back to get all the layers to stick together.
After drying enough to support the form, the new piece is tipped out of the mold. Upon demolding the new torso, I can add additional elements such as wings, lace or fleur de lis to the surface of the new piece. The piece is trimmed and allowed to dry for a week before its first firing. After being fired 1800 degrees F in an electric kiln the piece is durable enough to be glazed or stained. It is fired a second time to 2300 degrees F. in a large walk-in gas kiln for the glaze firing. The final gas firing gives me the beautiful blues, reds and warm toasty browns that my customers enjoy so much.
I rebuilt my walk-in gas kiln in 2008 replacing a 15 year old kiln that would no longer produce the copper reds and toasty browns that I was looking for. I am also streamlining my studio space and production methods to fit my current needs. I have been learning methods of producing larger scale sculptures in clay and the firing methods for them. In the future I plan to be continuing to combine figurative work in clay with layering of textures to create larger scale works.