Monday, 27 May 2013

Stages of progress

Upon seeing a picture of the original Mr Toad, I was recently asked to do a commission for a lovely lady by her husband. I took a bunch of WIP photos, as I thought it would be interesting for her to see the method of construction (you don't get that with factory-made items!)

I decided if I was going to make a copy of an existing creature, I wanted it to be both different and better, as I'd learned a lot of interesting things in making the prototype. 

Here's the final critter:

Here are the modelling stages: he's made from gritty raku clay (this has tiny hard particles in, which give texture and hold together well when sculpting). You can see the original version I made for myself in the background, used for reference. As you can see, my art desk is quite chaotic XD

Basic shape, made hollow (otherwise he would explode during firing, which is an unfortunate end for anybody) 

Click for the whole process!

Smoothed out, just beginning to work out the alignment of the mouth and throat curve

Slightly lengthened, starting to add the hips 

Beginning to extend the hips into the legs, adding the line down from the eyes through the midline of the body. 

Working on the face now. 

Still working on him, but you can see the basic shape emerging now. Once finished, he is left a week or so to dry out fully, then fired in the kiln to make the shape permanent. At this stage you need to make sure the walls of the object are not too thick, as air bubbles in the clay, or overly-chunky walls, can cause ceramics to blow up!

Fired clay. As you can see, the colour changes considerably after it's been in the kiln. You can see here that I have added the front feet, refined the shape and added toes and warts. Also, the all-important nostrils :D

As an aside, lace is very useful for achieving textures.  Don't overuse it, but it's great for highlighting things and adding surface interest.


He's sitting in the studio where I fired him in these pictures, rather than my room where the first set were taken. 

After glazing. These are a mixture of oxides and commercial glazes, though they are all altered by hand to get better colours. Generally I find commercial glazes too stark and like to mix them up a bit.

Possibly the most alarming thing about glazing is that the colours can alter so dramatically upon firing. As you can see, you need to fire twice, once for the shape, and a second time for the glazes. 

Finished! The final pictures were taken by Isobel Golt Morris, a valued teacher and potter. 

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