Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Paperclay Vessel

All the beautiful flowers blooming and the early morning coolness on my front porch enticed me to stay home and experiment with some paperclay ideas.  In July I was able to work with ceramic installation artist, and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Rebecca Hutchinson.  She was our last visiting artist in Clay as a Medium for Sculpture at CSU Summer Arts in Monterey, CA.  She taught us an amazing array of techniques for "breaking the rules" when working with clay. She taught us about the different kind of cellulose fibers to use and what kind of stuff to dip into paper clay slip.  She also showed us how to make durable, non-fired pieces and how to incorporate silkscreen and stencil use with colored slips for surface decoration.  It was a ton to cover in just three days.  If you ever get and opportunity to go to one of her workshops I would highly recommend it!

I thought I would start out simple with these little clay medallions I made by dropping dollops of paperclay onto a plaster slab to stiffen up.  Need more plaster slabs!  And minions to make these little cookies while I construct the forms.

The construction process was oh so delightful! I started the base out on an upturned bowl covered with paper.  I left it out in the sun to stiffen up and then took it off the mold, turned it over and started adding my cookie "shingles."  This stuff is amazing.  I love that you can add wet pieces to bone dry work.  It is also really easy to rehydrate areas with a spritz of water as the paper keeps the clay from weakening.

Day two.  You can see where the bottom section has dried and I continued shingling on the fairly dry rim.

I really wanted to continue and make the form even larger if it wasn't for a few crucial factors.  One, I ran out of slip!  Two, I needed to make the base thicker and better able to take the weight of the piece and not be topsy.  Since I started out with all these cookies of pretty uniform thickness there just isn't enough weight at the bottom.  I think the next one will have a thicker pinch or coil base to start working on. The last issue is transportation.  Oh yeah, when one does not have a kiln...  You get the idea.

I love how the interior looks like scales.  I might flip the cookies around on the next piece so the flat, scale-like surface is on the outside.  Now to figure out how I want to finish and fire this piece.  I am thinking of the soda kiln but not sure if it will fit.  I might need to make some smaller ones for that little kiln for sure.

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