Sculpting with slabs of clay – How it went!

Here are some photographs from our last sculpting course, using slabs of clay.

During week one, we each made a clay sketch working from a life model.  We used this to map a template of the final work on a board. The boards were 60cm x 60cm, the maximum for the kiln we are using. We worked with crank which is clay with the addition of  grog. The grog is pre-fired pottery that has been ground down to varying degrees, with a range of textures. This is added to clay to give it structure, speed up the drying process and reduce shrinkage. This type of clay is ideal for sculptural work, it is slightly more expensive than the sanded buff which is our standard clay. The slabs were cut a couple of days before the class, using a clay harp. Each bag of clay produced approximately 8 slabs approximately 18cm x 24cm. The slabs needed to harden over a couple of days so that they held their shape whilst working. We used scrunched up newspaper to hold the work until it dried sufficiently to be self supporting. The process of achieving the basic shape took about four weeks. The time between classes being sufficient for the work to dry enough to be stable, allowing it to be gradually built up. The remaining two weeks were spent adding details and individual features such as hair and texture. During the final week six we turned the piece and finished from underneath, checking the thickness to make it suitable for firing, reducing some areas and reinforcing edges to ensure it’s strength.  As these pieces are sizeable the plan is to locate them outside in gardens, possibly at the edge of a pond.  At the moment though they are still in the studio drying out.


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