The Tumble Commission

The Celebration Day at Gwalia Mynydd Mawr, 5 November 2014

The Scale Model for a lovely commission for a beautiful Care Home in Carmarthenshire got a very warm and positive response and after months of workshops, planning and very careful thought the build has started.

As usual I’ve over -designed for the budget… but that’s my prerogative- I always stick to my quoted fee and how many hours I put in is up to me.I get a buzz out of challenge and this piece has steep leans , a very complex form and very strong themes that must be stuck to.

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  It has been developed from content gathered from other Artists on the Team working in a range of creative styles and  with some extraordinary Primary School pupils.

The children’s ideas were so sophisticated, profound and complex. For example; After spending a series of workshops with the Home’s Residents making tiles for the Plinth, they built the idea that life is a journey full of change and phases so they wanted to see a pathway that traveled around the sculpture. They wanted a warm , welcoming form that harnessed the rain ( that falls very regularly here in Wales!) to create pools and flowing rivers that represented the Love that is all around us and flows through our lives. Wonderful!

Many of the Residents have Dementia and all are very disabled. But they joined in, charmed by these adorable kids, and it was their warmth and sincerity the children picked up on. They talked about many of the harsh realities of their long lives; war, poverty, mining, loss.And the joys; the beautiful landscape of the country they love, pets, family, work.

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When your Commissioners pour so much of themselves into the consultation phase you owe them something stunning. That includes Arts Care Gofal Celf  who are running this 2 year ,multi -Artist project  with Gwalia and they are both a joy to work for.

So this piece is full of metaphors and symbols. And, I hope, the grace and integrity of the many people who brought it together.

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Near the Studio is the beautiful valley I go to regularly (the River Series came from there) and it is the perfect place to support this Sculpture. And it certainly rained enough this winter.

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The Sculpture will be 1metre 40cm high plus the Plinth and 1m 80cm wide.

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I always make scale model people too so I have the eye-lines right. They help to illustrate the scale.                                                                                                                                 

Measuring carefully from the Model the piece is coil-built using a variety of coil methods . The details are roughed in as the lower sections will necessarily get hard to support the weight of the following layers. Timing is everything. I do use fans and supports but if you mess too much with the drying phases you may well get cracks. If you work too fast it will collapse and I hate it when that happens.

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 There are internal support-walls and buttresses. The piece will be cut in large sections for the firing and these are pre-planned very carefully. The structure has be strong while wet , when dry,when being dismantled and moved to the kiln , through the fire, when being installed and then when it stands for decades, centuries even, in a public place. The site in this instance is a very lovely , sheltered Court-yard Garden with handsome landscaping. There wont be a problem with people climbing on it etc so I could allow some delicacy  but non-the-less it is a sturdy design although I am aiming for a light, flowing feeling.

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      The build method is the same as for the Monumental Sculptures but scaled down. The walls are thinner , the coils smaller , but the same sort of supports are used. The final sections will be much bigger so where the cuts will be needs to be pre-planned and internal structure put in to support the sections through the fire.

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Because the form shrinks as it dries, internal supports are clay and shrink with the form and external ones need to allow shrinkage or only be used for short periods. Quality memory foam is ideal because it lets the clay shrink yet will hold up surprising amounts of weight.The finger marks also support the walls and are left on the inside and only smoothed away on the outside after the section has gone firm.

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The clay is Scarva’s Earthstone Crank Material, ES50, and it is awesome. Their previous Crank had fantastic build quality but it was a minging colour wet and fired unless you put something made in Black Chunky in the kiln with it – then it took on a lovely gold shade. This new Crank is even better to use and will fire to very nice pale gold ideal for the setting.

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The lower section will stay wrapped most of the time to slow the drying and allow the water time to drop. I believe this makes the walls stronger but that might be nonsence. Each Clay-person develops their own relationship with their clay and techniques that are a breeze for one might be chaos for another. I started as Coil-builder 34 years ago and over time I’ve added a lot of side-shoots to my method.

It is 3/4 built, 225kgs of clay, 95cm high. I have definatly done the easy bits – from here on up it will be very slow; smaller coils added in small doses. In-between I’ll work on the surface images and the edges. This initial stage is building the basic form. A lot of clay will be added to bring out the curves and images. That will be left to harden and then the whole piece will be re-fined with subtractive methods. 3 steps forward , 2 steps back, slow and steady.

The shape looks crazy at this point.

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The first draft of the details can go on; the most important thing right now is to get good joins for the clay.

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 When the clay has hardened these can be touched up by carving with a delicate tool. These images were taken from archive pictures of 2 mines and the Railway local to Tumble. Apparently the Train that ran from Great Mountain Colliery was the first ever passenger line.

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I’m using smaller coils and each stage is taking longer.It is just approaching the point where the central hole will form and the top edges start to meet- lets hope my measurements were right! If it doesn’t meet properly I’ll cut out large sections and re-do them.

The props are getting more inventive!

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Those out-side supports will stay in place until after the upper parts are cut and lifted off. In theory it would be self-supporting….but if it collapsed it would do it fast! The final, fired and installed Sculpture will have cement and steel rods inside so it will be strong enough to climb on.

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Almost there- it’s down to finishing touches now. I’ve re-done the head about 90 times and I’m still not happy with it. The Sculpture is wrapped in plastic to rest and settle.I will un-wrap it with fresh eyes and be better able to see what’s needed. In theory.  Once the top feels firm I will remove those internal supports- a scary moment ; it could collapse which is why you need to have a ‘sensibly'(pessimistically ) long build time!  The supports have to come out because they are restricting the shrinkage and soon they will start causing damage. That broom will never be the same.  The outside supports will stay to the end and those sections will get their finishing touches during dismantling.

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Andrew Preece of Smart-fix, my expert Installer came over and we plotted the sections. It’s great having his early input. I never compromise on the form but Andrew can advise on structural issues so that the Installation goes smoothly and we get the best result.

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 That hole in the top left is the last bit to go in. The fired colour will be a stony pale yellow.

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The Sculpture is in the early drying stage, wrapped in plastic. Once I’m sure the upper sections are firm enough (including the internal supports) I’ll get my Assistants in and we will cut the sections and lift them onto memory-foam for a long, slow, dry.

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This is a lovely  stage; the clay is still full of water and it holds the light beautifully. I have been over the whole piece with a fine modelling tools.

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Photographs by Stephen Foote.

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You learn a lot about your own work from watching a skilled Photographer taking pictures of it. You get a more objective view. The lights are certainly a merciless test of your planes and edges. Stephen Foote’s top quality lenses will pick up every flaw.

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I went over the whole piece with fine portrait tools and his perfect pictures reward that.

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After a spell of controlled drying it’s time cut the sections. Luckily I have a fantastic Assistant, Michael Preece. I spent a lot of time  planning the cuts; we have opted for large sections and I needed to ensure they would fit in the kiln and be handleable. Mike  used a variety of tools to make the cuts and he and my son Daniel lifted the sections to thick memory foam where they will stay for at least a month.

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Working in clay you always have an eye on the Drying and Firing -Plan; accommodating  these long drying periods where the atmosphere needs to be controlled and having the right sized pieces ready to pack nice full kilns that will distribute the heat evenly.

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I went round all the edges of the cuts and tidied them and repaired any dings. I will cover the sections with sheets to ward off drafts and turn them regularly. Most cracks form at this stage although they may not show up until after the Firing.

From the outset the many people from Arts Care Gofal Celf, Gwalia and Mynydd Marw involved in this 2 year , multi-fasceted, Baring Foundation ‘Yma a Nawr’ project have put in their all to make it out-standing. After the excellent Installation of the Sirhowy Wyvern I knew that Andrew Preece and his team at Smartfix Property Maintenance would also do whatever it takes to make this Sculpture look fantastic. They are incredibly picky and fastidious, it’s marvellous. Best materials, committed craftsmanship, and they always stick to the Budget no matter how much extra time they have to put in.

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Smartfix Property Maintenance at Mynnyd Mawr, Tumble
Moving the heavy sections around meant 4 men had to be on site.
The 2 bottom sections are lowered over rebars set into the solid plinth and foundations.
It was critical to get the position of these first sections correct.
The sections are filled with concrete and left overnight to set.
Once everything has set the supports can be removed and the joints pointed.
The charming tiles, made by pupils at Llannon Primary School and residents at Mynnyd Mawr are laid out in a measured pattern.

The charming tiles, made by pupils at Llannon Primary School and residents at Mynydd Mawr are laid out in a measured pattern.

Andrew and Phil set the tiles.

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Mynydd Mawr Courtyard Sculpture, 2m h x 190cm w, 2014.

The Celebration Day at Gwalia Mynydd Mawr, 5 November 2014

A perfect , clear blue day for the un-veiling of the Sculpture and a celebration of the whole Project and all the lovely, dedicated people who were involved from Arts Care Gofal Celf, Gwalia, the Primary schools in the area and the extraordinary Staff and Residents at Gwalia Mynydd Mawr.

The Celebration Day at Gwalia Mynydd Mawr, 5 November 2014
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Making the Remember and Rebuild Sculpture for Saxon Hall, Hereford.

Scale Model, Remember and Rebuild Sculpture for Saxon Hall.

Planning a Public Sculpture.

This is post is an ongoing diary for this excellent Big Skill Community Project to share with everyone involved. And I hope it will be useful and interesting to anyone planning similar projects. I will add to it over the next 6 months.

Building big sculptures is intence, complicated, a lot of labour, a bit of a nightmare and exciting! This Memorial to everyone affected by the pandemic will all be made in clay, including the armature, fired in sections and then rebuilt on site with permenant construction materials.

Saxon Hall Community Centre

The amazing Trevor Stringer, Chairman and the driving force behind The Big Skill, at Saxon Hall marking the first site we considered for the Standing Up For Peace sculpture that welcomed people as they arrived and screened a bench. Now we have a site that compliments rather than interupting the stunning, established perrenial planting and will enhance the lovely, young community orchard.

Here is the project description and the sculpture’s ‘Brief’ which we put together in workshops over the last year. All kinds of lovely people are involved. I took mountains of notes and we had some increadable, intence conversations that lead us to this point in February 2021 where we feel we are ready to make our monument to an extraordinary time in our history.

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Saxon Hall
From Standing Up For Peace to Remember and Rebuild.
At the beginning of this project, in 2019, our society was brittle with division. Inspired by the
beautiful gardens of Saxon Hall we had the idea of a monument to community with ‘Standing Up
For Peace’ as a theme and enjoyable, creative workshops with The Accessible Craft Group and
other Makers at The Big Skill to bring local people together to focus on all the many positives
around us in Hereford.

This was going well, we had great turn out and a lovely, friendly, open atmosphere fostered by the
excellent facilities of Saxon Hall.

Then Covid19 stepped in… Lockdown gave us a shared experience that cast a harsh light on our
society and lead us to question what really made us safe, happy and productive.
Many people stepped up to volunteer and help ensure those around them were safe and well. Key
workers were acknowledged and appreciated for the great work they do for us all and the bravery
they showed in the fearful, dangerous situation.
The work we had already done for Standing Up For Peace made an ideal foundation for much
harder, more intensely focussed questions. And our amazing participants were really willing share
their fresh, new perspective and their very personal experiences.
So we have switched our focus onto the Pandemic experiences that have affected every aspect of
our society and daily lives. The Workshops planning the sculpture, sharing skills and getting people
together to have relaxed, inclusive conversations about these hugely challenging, difficult months
over crafts, cake and coffee have been re-named ‘Remember and Rebuild’.
Camera in the Community is proving to be a wonderful way to capture moving stories told in
person with genuine warmth and humour.
We have been taking notes, collecting images and ideas and now have a scale model and a new
budget for a sculpture that can honour this extraordinary time in our history, a painful year full of
loss, grief, fear and hardship where people from all walks of life have shown kindness, bravery and
generosity.
What Community Centres are all about really stands out at times of crisis. Fun and useful activities
build the ties that bind a community together so that when the doubt and fear in a crisis can seem
insurmountable the Community Center is a safe, trustworthy place where those able to give can join
with those in need and share the work that will rebuild the community to be able to cope in new
ways.
Out of a swirling confusion of contradictory emotions patterns have begun to clarify and form
routes that unite and strengthen the community.
On the Sculpture those routes can be followed, in an interwoven loop, up from the ground within
the 2 meter circle and around the guardian forms who make sense of the swirl and direct the flow in
and back out of the safe space between them at the centre of the circle.

Second draft of Remember and Rebuild. The base is the 2metre wide ‘distancing circle’ that has become iconic during the pandemic. There will be a swirlling mosaic of hand-made tiles set into it. The figure is just for scale.
Key ideas collected at Workshops:
-‘The space we hold inside is equal in importance to the space outside.’
-Spiralling.
-Two caring hands.
-A kind embrace, hug.

  • Reciprocity: The Ties That Bind.
    -Guardians: angels and also the SAS Soldiers (*mark Sea King Disaster, Falklands War in carving)
    uncompromising heroes with relentless courage who stepped up to work, regardless of the risk, to
    care for others. Key Workers. Wishing a for a ‘force’ to protect loved ones.
  • Inspired by Heroes. (talked about a lot and redefined by Lockdown)
  • Saxon Hall builds on the tradition of it’s Military heritage: offering the opportunity to connect and
    become part of the strength that makes resilience.
    -Two figures: Love and Courage.
  • Community in Nature.
    -The Rotherwas Ribbon, a winding path, marked this area as significant to ancient people.
    -Tie the sculpture in to the wonderful mosaics already in the garden. And to the Community
    Orchard, Herb Bed, the beautiful flower bed and other features on the site
  • a focus on sharing, making connections to strengthen the Community for this new era.
  • Building on what we learnt from Lockdown.
    -Two figures interacting: Working together. The need for connection is the biggest driving force in
    our lives- with people, pets, gardens. Creativity is all about that:-reaching inwards and outwards;
    trying to say what we mean, to connect by explaining what we are/see/can do/can offer.
  • The 2 metre circle encloses and separates, leaving us with ourselves.
  • 2 metre circle: protect, contain, shield, separate, personal space, boundaries, limit, barrier,
    reaching out, Pushing away, en-circled.
  • The Natural World: being safer out in the fresh air with Nature.
  • 2 figures facing each other and creating a space that has a flow between them and is empowering
    to stand in.
    Surface of sculpture and the mosaic tiles.
    Mosaic:
  • Katey Lyons and I will custom-make stamps to make it easy to join in at fun activity for all ages at
    a range of venues.
  • Include the type of tiles used in the other mosaics in the garden.
  • Carving:
    Designs/drawings needed:
  • the famous Turnip Worship that supports Hereford United.(!)
  • Frank Oz, voice of Fozzy Bear, the Cookie Monster and Yoda.
  • David Garrick, famous Shakespearian actor, 17C
  • First draft of Remember and Rebuild. We kept a lot of the elements but felt these 2 figures felt too much like a male/female human couple which set a limited narrative. We wanted something deeper, something bigger than us. And two tall, seperate figures would cause a lot of expence in deeper foundations to make them stable. We wanted as much of the budget to go on the art-work and community participation as possible. Joining the figures expressed more about community and importance of friends and team work. And it made the total sculpture self supporting, stronger and provided the wonderful interactive interior space and all the surface area in there for carving. At this time we still hoped to be a lot of face to face workshops where local people would do carved panels to be inserted into the sculpture build. Now, in February 2021, a lot of that input is being directed at the tiles for the base and I have more time to copy people’s ideas onto the sculpture surface.
  • Further research:
  • a visit to New Civic Museum in the Town Hall for Hereford local history.
  • Why the name ‘Saxon Hall’?
  • Tim Hoverd (Howerd?), Council Archaeologist for information about The Rotherwas Ribbon/
    Dineor Serpent that inspired the sculpture’s form.
    Collecting via group, social media (to be carved on surface/tiles):
  • As many of these ideas/themes as possible will be carved onto the sculpture’s surface
    Poems:
    God’s Garden Poem.
    The kiss of the sun for pardon.
    The song of the bird for mirth.
    One is nearer God’s
    Heart in the garden
    Than anywhere else on earth.

    Jokes: There is a lot of laughs around about everything! But when we get together most of the talk is focussed on kindness and trying to make sence of it all…
    Thoughts:
  • it’s surreal, like a plot from a film
  • -worry: about family, the lack of work and money
  • disbelief-denial
  • parallel universe- everything is the same yet totally different
  • no deadlines or alarm clocks, but everything you try and do needs planning now, even just going to the shop.
  • acceptance
  • enjoying the stillness and peace
  • you realise you can’t have it all or be it all: find a niche you can fill.
  • stopped making art and sat in the garden…processing it all, taking it in
  • Nice for the main earner to be spending time with the kids.
  • focussed on growing veg and salad
  • missing friends and family
  • all the routines fell apart
  • will the kids ever recover?
  • enjoying time within our bubble
  • society at once in fear yet working together
  • walking, so much walking!
  • learning to relax
  • Masks and not being allowed to touch is making us very separate from our bodies.
  • it’s a labyrinth
  • seeking a sense of progression
  • you think you are on track but alongside you is chaos, areas where you can’t make decisions any
    more..
  • a swirling confusion of contradictory emotions
  • Key Workers like Nurses don’t get to have a 2 metre circle like the rest of us.
  • thank goodness for our pets.
  • the garden has saved me
  • Being shut in at home can bring people closer but can also make it impossible to all get work done
    because the space is so tight. So people shut down and hide their feelings to keep the peace.
  • Contradictions; safe/trapped, providing/draining, giving/loosing, helping/cornering: the space
    between them is our shape.
  • I turn to the Moon…it radiates intense warmth on you. It defines our ‘outer-space’, the boundary of
    our community. Our inner space, where the heart is (a space always has a beat, a heart-beat, to keep
    you going,) is your privacy. The outer space around you is shared with everyone. You don’t have
    control over it: you only control your own space but it can not function with out a connection to the
    outer-space in some way.
  • There’s a heart-breaking rise in domestic abuse. We aren’t meant to live like this.
  • Families are realising that their habits need changing: who sleeps where, the kids autonomy, who
    deserves care.
  • Adapting to the 2 metre thing is so hard!
  • Feeling contaminated is weird.
  • feeling very isolate. And no hugs…
  • you feel exposed, threatened.
  • We are finding that the notion of Family= Safe space is not enough, that family can be
    claustrophobic and we are, and need to be, interconnected to a wider community in order to feel safe
    and happy.
  • You can’t take anything for granted, everything has to be planned!
    Sayings/Terms/phrases:
  • What goes around comes around
  • give and take.
  • A friend in need is a friend in deed
  • The new normal
  • Lockdown
  • Social distancing
  • mask-up
  • Bubbles
  • Loosen our Certainties.
  • Gather your dreams and let your spirit guide you.
  • Clapping for Carers
  • Safe and well.
  • Stories
    Images:
  • Tree of knowledge- including roots + mycelium + other smaller trees.
  • The Wood Wide Web
  • Elm leaves – local connection?
  • Sunflower
  • Dove
  • spirals
  • Installation:
    The 5 day Installation work will incorporate Volunteer skill-sharing with Sculptor and Builder.

  • Celebration:
    Originally we hoped to have a lovely event organized by the amazing ladies of the Afternoon Club
    who came to a workshop and were marvelous. During the Pandemic those days feel far off. So it is
    not incorporated in the Budget or plan but it is still a great idea. When the time is right it will be a
    very important, happy day for the Community.
  • There has been a lot of attention on this project and we were especially when the lovely, forward-thinking, down to earth Mayor visited and gave us some great feedback. Councillors have spent time listening and contributing. So have leaders from other excellent Community Projects. It feels really good to be part of a movement focussed on the quality of our daily lives and how we can support each other.
  • Site:
    Between the stunning Perenial Flower boarder and the Community Orchard.
    A 2 metre circular base incorporating the sculpture’s foundation and decorated with the spiraling
    mosaic, inset to be level with the ground, next to the pavement to allow inclusive access.
    The Community Orchard is in need of some TLC and a wild-flower meadow will be planted around
    the trees.
    This work should not expensive so we hope to use a portion of the budget for the costs.
    There is a fab opportunity to engage Volunteers to help with these improvements and to help with the ongoing up-keep of the lovely, important flower boarder and some lovely people have already signed up to support the extraordinary work Aubrey and his helpers have done.
    This also offers an opportunity to leave a legacy of engagement for our wonderful, creative participants
    once the Sculpture is complete.
  • There has been problems with people parking on this area on very busy days. The sculpture and
    improvements made around it will clarify the use of this part of the garden, improving it’s attractiveness.

Everyone is welcome to get involved by making a clay tile about your Covid 19/Lockdown experience for the mosaic base of the sculpture, or use the links on this Big Skill page to make your own expressive sculptures. If you could put any ideas or thoughts you have in the Comments here that would fantastic. I will be calling for things to add to the surface on my Osprey Studios FB too.

The Big Skill has a fab FB page where you will find all sorts of enjoyable, sharable things to get involved with, try out and give to your families and friends: The Big Skill Facebook Page.

A couple of the wonderful volunteers making Remember and Rebuild tiles in their own homes.

Katey Lyons is running Remember and Rebuild Tile workshops online and in person when possible. Here’s her video: join-in tile making for Remember and Rebuild.

Love Gardening? Contact The Big Skill to volunteer in the beautiful sensory and herb gardens, poly-tunnel and allotments and the leafy play area with it’s live woven willow shelter at Saxon Hall, Hereford! The big area around the sculpture has loads of room and potential. These photos only show half of it! There is a poly tunnel, raised allotment beds, a herb bed, the small orchard and beds all around the building!

The Schedual of Work and Budget.

The sculptor and the Project Manager work together to make the sculpture that speaks for the community. The Sculpture is not the work of one person but of the whole group who contribute in countless ways.

Once you know who is on board, what fascilities are available or needed, the proposed site (discuss the project ideas with everyone who currently uses the site for really valuable feed-back. This can be key in avoiding vandalism) and have a great ‘Brief’ you all believe in, you need to draw up a first draft budget and a first scale model. To help get the budget right (very important, there will only be a fixed sum available: if you over spend you will have to make up the difference) I make a Schedual of Work that describes the complete process, time-line, costs, resources needed, including who else I need on the team.

Feed-back on the model goes into the next model, adjust the budget, up-date the Brief (be sure to include the feed-back from the current site users) etc, until it all looks good.

Then present it clearly to the people who will make the final descision about proceeding. Use their valuable input to make the final Budget, Schedual of Work and scale model. Be sure costs of resources, especialy the work-space are right. Then present the final drafts to the descision makers for approval to proceed.

The Scale Model

6/2/21.The Sculpture will be 2 metres high. The model is 21 cm high.

After weeks working through various versions, this final working draft of the model is 8% larger to allow for the clay’s shrinkage. In the full sized sculpture many of the strong lines may be softened but here they are clearly shown to guide me as I build over the many weeks this will take (the estimate on the Schedual of Work is 300 hours spread over 6 weeks to allow for drying time). The figure is just there for scale and I used it to guide the design. We want the interior space of the sculpture to be welcoming, a sheltering embrace.

The texture on the models have nothing to do with the final sculpture’s surface. Carved into the surface around the form will be writing and images about how this Pandemic has felt, given by all sorts of people in Hereford and anyone who joined in online.

Here is 3 posts that are very useful about making models including links for getting materials and tools: Making small sculpture and models.

Making Small Figures.

How to make Animals

There are lots of useful Step-by-step posts here: Osprey Studios Post Directory

Planning the Build.

Prepare the work space:

An internal structure made in the same Scarva ES50 Crank clay will support the sculpture as it grows upwards and stop it collapsing outwards to a point, so extra, external props will be needed: ensure there is space for them.

Face the sculpture so that you will have the best sight-lines for the most import parts.

A paper circle defines the base and will stop the sculpture sticking to the floor so it can shrink. And it will provide a ‘Map’ of the sculpture’s footprint so that we place the sculpture sections correctly at the Installation phase. So it is very important.

Plan the internal frame-work:

Any sculpture must endure all weathers and the possibility that adults will climb on it.

The structure must support itself during the build and when it being cut into sections. And when the sections are drying, being handled, fired and transported to the site.

Then it plays a role in the contruction process involving cement and iron rebars. It needs to be possible to insert the rebars accros the joins, get cement in there so that it fixes securly to a rough ‘key’ surface.

Over time water WILL get in there! So there needs to be drainage out of the structure.

I have been adding to this scrawl and amending it as new concerns or better ideas come up.

Start Building!!

Stage 1: building the Clay Armature.

This stage is all about blocking out the form by acuratly following the scale model and making a strong structure that will carry the outer layer of art-work that will be modelled/carved on to refine the form and add images and text in low relief.

As far as possible I will extend this load-bearing inner core vertically straight up. In places the holes through the form will cut accross it.

The rough process-marks will help key the cement and now they add strength to the walls in the way corrogation does. Here I am using Scarva ES50 Crank in large coils and the technique is explained here: How Coil Build with clay from small to monumental.

The first 50cm are the worst! It is obnoxious, hard labour especially if you are a decrepit old wreck like I am. Note the primary-school chair: invaluable! And a cushion for your knees: look after your body! Especially your back. The whole project will feel daunting and impossible. When building two of the huge pit-markers (5m x 2m, 6m x2m, 13 tons of clay) me and the team came up with 2 useful mantras: stick these on your bathroom mirror:

” One Bag at a time”

You have made a good, organised plan. Believe in it, trust it, adjust it where nessasary. Then focus on the needs of each bag of clay, good joins, even surface, careful drying. Then onto the next one. It will work. If bits collapse, rebuild them.

” Shuddup and get on with it”

Yep. Take lots of breaks, eat well, pace yourself. Some of the stages are really fun, exciting and spending your day with a big clay structure is actually awesome.

The wings growing out of the core will support the next outer layer.

Manage the drying very carefully using plastic, sprays of water, a hair-dryer, a fan, dehumidifier. Remember added clay will release water into hardened areas and soften them. And it will slowly percollate downwards, maturing your joins or ruining them if they were badly done.

17/2/21

Day 8 and the armature has reached 1metre high, the outer layers are going on and it is resting to allow the water to settle. 21x 12.5kg bags so far: 262.5kgs. That holds a lot of water!! In places there are 3 layers of wall so drying them to the leather-hard stage (that will be remarkably strong in this clay) is tricky and needs time. For the next 120cm the form will put a lot of strain on this lower section. These things do collapse sometimes and it is very annoying!!

The adjustable, metal bracket supporting the over-hang will stay there for the rest of the build and others will be used. I had them custom-made when we built the Blaengarw 2 Pit Markers mentioned above.

Ballarat and Ocean Colliery Pit Markers in progress in an old shop in Pontycymmer, Garw Valley. 13 tons of Coleford Brick Clay, a limited budget and timeline and an amazing team of fantastic local people who worked with me on everything from the design, research, build and the art-work on the sculpture!! Read about the technique used with Coleford Brick Clay, which is used in very soft, here: Building with brick clay on a monumental scale.

21/2/21

The armature is spending a few days in plastic to settle. The corse clay is wearing down my finger tips and if I’m not careful they will get splits that take ages to heal so they are also getting care and when I go back to the build I will put tape over them. Gloves move around too much and wear out really fast.

The focus has been on tightening up the form with carefull, gradual paddeling (especially using the rounded edge of a 1cm thick piece of wood: my Best Stick) and adding the third outer layer.

About 20cm of height is added and holes through the form are starting. Now it is at the widest point and will begin to curve inwards. This is a very scary, vulnerable transition, the most likely point to cause a collapse later in the build. I need to be able add clay on the lower surfaces at the art-work stage: this structure needs to be able to manage that new addition of softening water and the weight while still accepting the clay joins. When it is cut into sections the distribution of weight gets interupted and the structure needs to cope with that too. So the work is very slow and careful! And stressful!! But it’s a joy to see those curves starting to move.

A lot of weight is being added to this side. Small blocks and braces can make a lot of difference. It’s tempting to use a hair-dryer on the braces but that will rush the shrinkage on them and possibly lead them to crack and fail so a slow dry is important.

It looks crazy at the moment! This post describes a very wide sculpture-build with dramatic over-hangs where a lot of bonkers looking but really effective supports were used. At this point it’s helpful to look at where each stage leads to, especially for planning the internal clay supports that you wont be able to get at soon without making cuts. The Tumble Commision

Climate Change Gardening

Found Gallery, the sensational new contemporary art gallery in Brecon, Wales has been complimenting the gorgeous exhibition, Found In The Garden with a series of talks. I was invited to have a conversation with the incomparably wonderful author and forager Adele Nozedar about Osprey Studios Sculpture Garden, (which has just been selected to be part of the National Garden Scheme for 2020) climate change and where this is taking my sculpture.
Punch Maughan and her kind, thoughtful Team made the beautifully lit, spacious gallery welcoming and comfortable with tea and delicious cakes. A lovely, really interesting mix of people came along and the discussion was fascinating, thought provoking and very helpful.
Osprey Studios is at the foot of Cribarth, The Sleeping Giant Mountain, in the extraordinary Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark.
Gardening to fit in with the wild-life in your region really makes a difference. In a wide open, often harsh environment like the Brecon Beacons offering shelter, homes and food counts, especially when seasonal changes are messing with wild-life’s usual routines.. Artist/Gardeners Karin Mear and Nigel Evans at The Happy Gardeners know the area intimately and along with others in the group described the long, dramatic evolution of this land that reminds us that the Natural World changes constantly.
Cribarth creates a boundary that holds wild, harsh weather largely on this side of it’s ridge. Just over this horizon, less than quarter of a kilometre away, is Osprey Studios, protected in a much warmer, milder micro-climate with the southern face acting as a sun trap all year round.
Walking out due north from Cribarth across extraordinary geology laid down by a warm sea and then exposed again by glaciers.
Breconbeacons.org : “The carboniferous limestone of South Wales was formed in shallow tropical seas in the Paleozoic era, over 300 million years ago. Much of it is of organic origin, being the shells and skeletons of sea creatures, large and small. Amongst the most spectacular fossils to be seen in the National Park are Lithostrotion corals. Their intricate internal detail is often beautifully preserved.”
Half a kilometre due south is where the wonderful Nant Llech, a very import river in my work, meets the Tawe that runs down to the coast 20 miles away at Swansea. Further up stream is Henrhyd Falls.
Petrified Stigmaria – Lepidodendron (Scale Trees) Root structure. This tree went extinct about 250 million years ago, much of them decomposing into coal and oil.
Walking the Llech’s bed when the water was very low a few summers ago I started finding and collecting petrified wood and other fossils. This fabulous one is in a big boulder. It’s awesome to know that as the river rages even the big boulders are washed down stream and might never be seen again.

A young Mare’s Tail next to it’s petrified relative that I found near-by.


Indefenceofplants.com: “As atmospheric CO2 levels plummeted and continents continued to shift, the climate was growing more and more seasonal. This was bad news for the scale trees. All evidence suggests that they were not capable of keeping up with the changes that they themselves had a big part in bringing about. By the end of the Carboniferous, Earth had dipped into an ice age. Earth’s new climate regime appeared to be too much for the scale trees to handle and they were driven to extinction. The world they left behind was primed and ready for new players. The Permian would see a whole new set of plants take over the land and would set the stage for even more terrestrial life to explode onto the scene.
It is amazing to think that we owe much of our industrialised society to scale trees whose leaves captured CO2 and turned it into usable carbon so many millions of years ago. It seems oddly fitting that, thanks to us, scale trees are once again changing Earth’s climate. As we continue to pump Carboniferous CO2 into our atmosphere, one must stop to ask themselves which dominant organisms are most at risk from all of this recent climate change? “
There are lots of Ash trees along this gorge and most have reticently died from Ash Die-back. There are log jams all along the river and landslips revealing fossils and petrified wood from the mass extinction event millions of years ago. The shiny black fossils are very nearly coal.
The wet meadow behind Osprey Studios sculpture garden. The hedgehog hotel is here too.

So the earth has changed drastically many times. You feel close to that here in the Brecon Beacons. It has all lead to the beautiful natural world that we know now and that we thought we could control and keep as ours…
This new, massive Climate Change and mass extinction is happening with devastating speed and we understand it: there is no way to sugar-coat it, it is our doing. We can predict what course it is likely to take and plan…
Humans are not innately destructive. Like many cooperative species that live in communities we are very busy. VERY busy…And that busyness can be turned towards cleaning up a lot of this mess.
Will our entirely justified grief, guilt and anger eclipse the beauty, joy and wonder that is still here feeding and sustaining us? Will despair fracture our communities and render everyone helpless and vulnerable? Except for those few profiteers who don’t or can’t care?
Believing we are a toxic force ruining everything we touch is a great excuse to do nothing. But we owe our fellows in the natural world better than that.
Leviathan II, 2015, 53cm H x 79cm L x 36cm D, ceramic.
Watching and re-watching geologist and fabulous educator Dr Iain Stewart‘s programs has helped me get my head around it and that lead to the ongoing Throwdown at the Hoedown Series which has just reached one of those turning points and I have been unsure what comes next. The discussion lead to this:
Eleanor Greenwood (who takes some of the most incredible photographs of this area which she knows extremely well): “My final thing that I wanted to say is that we are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise. Your work is a big clear pointer back to that unity. There is sacredness and magic everywhere and you manifest it. I really enjoyed this eve and thank you for making me see climate change in a different light.”
Flabbergasted/very grateful me: “You are exactly right! And I think you have pinpointed the missing piece that I couldn’t see; the spheres, for want of a better term, are reaching out to us, taking forms we can relate to, but what are they saying? That!! Perhaps it’s just that…return to us while you still can….”
Gardens so often bring us together for the conversations that make all the difference.
Guardian of the Biosphere. The interior of this sculpture has spaces for wild-life to live.
Developing my garden over 9 years from a plain lawn with some old hard features like the cement paths and patio and the deteriorating wooden stable has also changed my thinking enormously. I first put in lupines and flowers and it was beautiful! No-one was more delighted and impressed than the slugs from the meadow at the end of the garden. After one, terrible, battle with them I saw this was not the fight I was willing to take on.
Joining forces with the rest of nature we can share the challenges of Climate Change. You can grow food to share with the other people in your community of wildlife and human neighbors, right down to those in the soil. The garden here is now full of fruit trees, bushes, a variety of strawberries, local wild flowers (slug-proof, bee/bug friendly, beautiful) and cultivated plants that can co-exist happily. Most of the grass has gone and now there is flowering low ground-cover, like cranberries.
There are lots of bird-feeders. And compost bins. You start feel like part of the solution and bit less like part of the problem. We can’t stop the change. But we can make amends as best as we can and ride the wave with grace.
All of nature has always had those who’s role is taking risks; trying out new habitats or times to flower, grow, mate or migrate. It seems very fair that we should make safe spaces for them and help with food and shelter if we can. Forestry Studies have found trees have been migrating in new directions for 50 years. One of my blueberries put out a few flowers this autumn, testing the chances…
This beautiful Acer was a special present to my self for being unexpectedly brave during one of those events that sharpen one’s appreciation of life. Our gardens can become a record of what matters most to us. It then taught me about choosing the right spot and not being afraid or reluctant to move unhappy plants. Or to give unusual plants a chance to make their home here.
Here’s a fabulous bit of drama and a tribute to the tropical past. And future? Changes in the Gulf Stream and other currents are happening now and it’s not clear what the implications are for the western UK. Right now it’s amazing that such a plant will grow here. (I transplanted the Torbay Palm across the garden from a hanging basket thinking it was a grass! It’s 6 metres high now and growing fast!) The interaction with the wild flowers is beautiful : this palm provides support and shelter all year round to a very long-stemmed wild flower that all sorts of insects adore on the edge of the pond. Gardening gets you looking to the future. Slow growing, long lived plants expect to face challenges and can be extraordinarily adaptable which is very inspiring.
Across the meadow at the end of the garden you can see the stand of huge Ash trees on the lower slope of Cribarth that have succumbed to Ash Die-Back. They have started to fall causing a landslip on the edge of a mountain stream and creating a beautiful new waterfall. After heavy rains the water has chosen a new route leading right to where a drainage ditch passes our gate and giving our patch a new shallow pond which fills with tadpoles and sustains other creatures. A few miles east another group of Ash are being watched because they seem to be immune to Die-back.
The movement of water is absolutely key.
This shady corner is full of wild life. All the sculpture plinths are hollow and provide homes for all sorts of people. The ground is always damp and often very wet. Just behind the sculpture is an apple, a pear and some blueberries bushes planted close together like I’ve seen in the woods by the river. They didn’t look too happy at first but a few years on they are taking off and I’m assuming that is because they have befriended each other underground. I had read that if you need a continuous supply over the season rather than big crops then close, varied planting is a good idea. Raspberries love this spot so I weed them out occasionally. A variety of cranberry plants have definitely taken and are quietly spreading among strawberries and various wild ground cover which I clear back sometimes to favour the cranberries but I get the impression they like the company. Everything seems happier with lots of other plants around them. Even my house plants do way better in mixed pots.
Anything cleared out of or from the edge of the pond is left on the side for a few days or tucked into the near-by bed so creepy crawlies can get back to the water.

We started the garden when we moved here in October 2010 with beds marked out with old carpet from the house left over winter and the pond put in the following spring, as recommended. I was so proud watching my sons dig it and it gave me some insight into the ground: 60cms of lovely dark soil down and then clay and big stones. We put in a good, flexible liner and two oxygenator plants and mini water lily. In no time at all it was full of life. Lots of newts, frogs, toads, dragon flies, water-snails (how?!), all sorts. Between them, the hedgehogs, birds and the huge predatory slugs the plant eating slug numbers have begun to balance to the point where the invaluable work they do for the soil offsets limiting what I can plant. Just like they promise on Gardener’s World.
Rae Gervis is an expert gardener growing extraordinary vegetables at Ty Mawr near Brecon. Every week you can order seasonal vegetables from them. Rae had no trouble persuading me not to dig my soil. But I hadn’t expected the results to be so good.
Rae explained: “Soil is the foundation of all life so needs to be nurtured. Soil vitality & biodiversity needs to be protected. Worms and other micro & macro-biota distribute air, water & nutrients far more efficiently & effectively than man can through digging. Mulch with any organic material, preferably well rotted. Soil is then insulated & protected from the elements. Slugs are a good food source for many animals including hedgehogs & they do break down organic matter making it available as nutrients in the soil.”
Building and fencing materials tends to involve horrendously un-green production methods. So we use recycled stuff and make things last where ever we can. The old fence enclosing what was a little pony-yard leading out to the meadow is rotting so I’ve woven a cotoneaster around it to replace it with a living fence which is now much higher and covered in berries. I had found the plant in a container in the hot front garden looking small and wretched when we moved in and I had no idea what to do with it. I plonked it in a stony hole and apologised. It has grown so fast!! Weaving it into flowing shapes is extremely fun.
This area is a cabin and patio now. Before it was a stable, before that a fabulous green house. I would love to pave it but it would be daft, wasteful and the layers of history would be lost. The old cement ground is worn and the mosses soften the look of it so I encourage them instead. Same with the rather rigid cement paths and patio by the house.
Evergreens are gorgeous all year and great for the front garden. And now it’s important to have flowering and/or fruiting plants and ever-green shelter for the creatures that may end up out and confused in mild winter spells. And the arriving refugees.
There are berries at the lower levels, strawberries, raspberries, black currants and gooseberries. Now that it’s moister I might move some of the cranberry’s runners here.
I let all this grow in to see what it would do (ie drop dead?) and I don’t mind admitting I wasn’t expecting it to be so lush! Recently we put in supports and some structure to the look of it.
It was just a nice front lawn with a small brick patio 9 years ago. It got way too hot and very dry out here in the summer and so did the rooms on this side of the house. The paint was fried and falling off the render. A number of my neighbors were having to replace their blistered render at the time so we decided we had better strip off the old paint and re-do it. In the back was a big Virginia creeper and the old paint under it was in much better condition!
Now the house is cool and comfortable all year round. The soil stays moist and I leave the falling leaves which quickly disappear into the ground thanks to the healthy wild-life. There are toads and lots of birds. Some are even nesting, glad that the street deters predators. I also find the sense of shelter very comforting.
This is the front patio which I never used before because it was broiling hot. The french doors lead into the Studio where I had to protect sculptures in progress from the heat. Now the vines form a roof and the light falling through it is exquisite. The purple-leafed grape vine stated clearly that it was ornamental and would not fruit but it does! There is jasmine, wisteria, roses, and an ever-green clematis amongst others so it changes and has beautiful scent.
Sweeping regularly keeps the weeds out from between the bricks and gives me a good excuse to go out there and revel in it. There is no joy to be had from herbicides and pesticides.
The parking area is really useful but I don’t miss not being able to see it. I’m building up a brush-pile in this corner for anyone who likes living in it and there is a small water feature here. I’m introducing a range of ground cover plants. Next year I hope to experiment with vegetables in movable pots on wheels on the driveway where I can separate them from the slug’s territory.

This very heavy, old gate came from the wonderful Theodore Sons And Daughter Reclamation Yard in Bridgend. Stripping and re-painting it took forever but it feels so great when you swing it open.

Gardening with a sense of purpose.
We are coming full circle back to the realisation that we are all nature. Our thinking that we are separate has hurt us in more ways than we realise.
We are being called to turn back to our natural world while we still can.
When all’s said and done it’s about Community.
Sharing with all our fellows, all the neighbours, great and small, wether we like them much or not, because we need each other. A garden reaches out from your home as much as it sets a boundary or shelters it. It creates links and bonds.
Gardening is a gentle, patient, subtle weapon in a battle we are better off for fighting. Our gardens become a record of, and a contribution to, what matters most to us.

How To Make Small Sculpture and Models

Covid 19; Standing Up For Peace Sculpture for Saxon Hall, Hereford: The design Phase. Please join in!

The Big Skill is working on a community project to build a sculpture for the beautiful garden at Saxon Hall Community Centre in Hereford, UK. We had started to bring people together with fun, informative, creative clay workshops to start developing the design. The models people made will be incorporated into the sculpture’s surface to add an expressive, relief surface that tells of the many ways everyone builds peace into their lives and communities. Then Covid 19 took over.

So now we have taken the work online. Please feels very welcome to join in. Go to The Big Skill website for more details.

Clay Modelling and small sculpture.

Using clay on a small scale is a great way to work out those ideas and feeling that are ‘on the tip of your tongue’ or just out of reach in your head. You can play around intuitively until it looks about right. Then you can use that model to guide you through another one where you think about it a bit more and so on. This is the basis of how I work and how I deal with any emotions or situations that in life that I can’t get my head around.

When planning a Public sculpture I start this way to clarify my own interpretations of the Theme. Then I will be inspired again by your models and other art-work and I’ll start making scale models that incorporate your ideas and forms and the issues out-lined in the Project Brief.

Coping with the Covid 19 lock-down has made us all acutely aware of how it feels to live in fear and what really matters and helps. So the models you make will really be from the heart and everyone will be able to relate to them in some way.

Humans are a social species and so it’s very important that we have a wide variety of skills to offer our communities. We are unified by a drive to share and communicate and some of us do that best through wordless routes like art work: making it and connecting through the art we see.

A piece of clay about the size of a tennis ball will keep your model a manageable size that wont keep collapsing or get to thick if you plan to fire it.
Just mess about: the ideas will come through your hands.
These other posts about small models will be useful:
Making Small Figures How To Make Animals
Listen to music that suits your mood or the mood you are aiming for.
I’m making an abstract form because that is my strongest language. The easiest, ‘best’ thing to make is the thing that interests you the most. Take your time and don’t care one bit about what anyone else might think.
I’m just trying to capture the movement or flow here, like dancing.
Much of the lower part is just there to stop it tipping over.
Blow dry just enough to keep it steady, especially lower bits. Don’t over-do it.
I’ve defined the form a bit more by cutting bits off and smoothing and compacting the clay with tools.
It’s time to add more clay: Break off a small piece with a tool, dab it onto a moist sponge and model it onto your sculpture.
Note the cake in that dish has gone.
Keep going around in Rotations, developing it in layers.
Look at it from all angles.
The next 3 images show the point where I’m beginning to get the hang of this model.
Bit more of this lower stuff will come off…Note that is is ‘roughed out’. If you spend too much time smoothing it will feel hard to make changes because “you don’t want to spoil it”. And being able to make changes at any point is one of the great benefits of working in clay.
I’ve blow dried it a bit more because now I’m going to add on quite a lot more clay. At this stage this piece is effectively the Armature.
Dab water on the surface, rub that until it is sticky, then add more clay.
I have switched to Porcelain clay which is tricky to work with. It looks a mess now but I will carve that back when I think I have the shape done. It will shrink way more than the Crank clay underneath so after the firing I will have a hard white finish with a lot of cracks in which I will emphasize in black. I’m after a timeless, stone-like finish.
Blow-dry the new clay to stiffen a little. Then use tools to compact the clay and clarify your farm. Don’t be tempted to smooth with water.
Raise the sculpture up so that you can see it better. I’ve had this fab turntable for eons. But I often use boxes and bits of wood which turn well. It’s very good to be able to sit up comfortably.
I used all the tools shown on the board for each task shown over the next set of images.
Refine the surfaces in rotations. I like to do a rotation of removing, then a rotation of adding, etc, for a minimum of 5 rotations.
Metal, serrated tools like this are AWESOME! But for years I’ve used wooden ones, Ribbon tools, small metal tools.
The curved ends of the wooded tool is great for smoothing and compressing clay in the curves and along the edges.
Once you have the shape you want Wooden tools blend in the scrape marks for a lovely, lasting smoothness. and crisp edges.
Over smoothing a form can kill it dead. some texture brings out the smoothness.
With small sculptures you can often see features from all sides at once. They need to interact and relate to each other. You can still play with surprise revelations as the sculpture is turned like you can with large pieces. This form is inspired by my experience of the Covid 19 Lock-down and part of the Edge Series which uses two sides linked by a hole.
Ready to dry.
This is now covered in the white porcelain. The firing will do most of the finishing. Then I will complete it by rubbing black-iron oxide powder into the cracks.
Weather you fire or self-harden your sculpture do plan on applying a colour to finish it. Dry clay, and sometimes fired clay, looks very blah. Don’t judge the piece at that point.
Add colour. using layers of thin washes to build up a colour works best. (be careful with water if you have self-hardened or it will disintegrate) Perhaps wax or varnish. I never recommend glazes on ceramic sculpture: they usually hide your nice surface and unless you are experienced with a particular glaze it can go very wrong.
Putting the sculpture on a nice base can transform the way it looks.

The key to all sculpture is this:

1- Block out the form: decide the dimensions (height, width, length) including the base.

2- Work in Rotations refining the whole sculpture at each turn (by adding or subtracting in the case of clay).

Working on a Small Scale.

Starting small will allow you to get your head around the issues and get results quickly. You can try making lots of versions of the same idea until you find a style or image that really works for you. If it is authentic to you then other people will be able to relate to it.

Choosing Your Clay

Ideally use a clay with lots of grog in it because it will sag less, crack less, fire better or be stronger as self-hardening clay. Here I used Scarva ES50 Crank, an outstanding sculpture clay.

All Pottery Suppliers online will be happy to recommend clay if you tell them what you want to make. Clays are made from recipes so there are endless kinds. You want a Hand-building clay with fine-medium grog (pre-fired grit). Throwing Clay for the wheel will resent being a sculpture and be hard to handle. Many “Self- Hardening” clays are over-priced and difficult or unpleasant to use.

Bath Potters Supplies are really kind and helpful, have a lovely new website and a great selection of clays and tools for fair prices. Just looking through the site will give you a good idea of what is available. And they are still open and delivering during the Pandemic.

A bag of clay is 12.5 kg. Clay prices vary a lot. Talk to your supplier to get the right clay for the job. £10 shipping usually covers 10-25 kg so tools wont have extra shipping.

Tools

I love CTM for tools: great quality and prices, especially on the serrated metal tools. They sell fab clay too.

You don’t need lots…I have LOTS! You can make your own.

This useful post features a complete, reusable model-making kit that you can adapt to the size of your needs and helpful links: How To Use Clay In Primary Schools Affordably.

Quality Joints:

There is good, illustrated, essential advice about handling clay and making joins on the post about Coil Building.

Genuine joins are formed when the chains of platelet-shaped particles from each section of clay inter-lock. Picture a magnified image of tangled hair.

‘Score marks’ do not give the surface ‘tooth’; they allow water into the clay-body. On vertical surfaces they hold the water in place to give it time to sink in and swell the clay so that the clay platelets are able to link with other platelets.

Slip is not ‘glue’, it is clay particles spread out in water and has little strength, especially when it has dried . It is ideal for holding a lot of water in place to give it time to be absorbed to soften the area of leather-hard clay.

Once both edges are softened put the pieces together and slide them back and forth until you feel the edges lock together.
Manipulate the softened clay at the join to encourage further integration of those particle-chains and to disturb the straight line of the join; cracks love to zing along a nice straight slip-weakened join during the firing when the pull of shrinking stresses the sculpture. Pack in more clay if needed.

Thicknesses: cracking/breaking.

Generally 3cm is a fair maximum thickness for a well grogged clay if you plan to fire.

How thick the clay can be to fire well depends on the amount of grog (the gritty bits of pre-fired clay ground to specific sized grit/dust that gives improved structure and resilience to your clay), the denseness of your modelling style, drying time and the speed of your firing.

Air bubbles trapped in the clay will expand with the heat. Grog and/or a loose surface will allow the air to seep through the clay. The same is true with water but steam expands fast. If your piece breaks into big bits during the fire it was trapped air and you will be able to see where the bubbles were in the shards. If it blows up into a trillion smithereens it wasn’t properly dry!

Drying:

These small models will dry out in a few days. To stop it drying between sessions wrap tightly in a plastic bag with no holes.

Dry your sculpture slowly or the limbs may crack as they will shrink faster than the rest of the form. A cardboard box placed over the top is ideal to slowly allow moisture to escape.

Finishing:
Self-hardened clay will be delicate but last forever so long as it doesn’t get wet.

Firing will make it strong and water-proof.

When it is dry/fired paint/wax/stain the surface : a simple all over bronze colour always looks great.

Place your sculpture on a nice piece of wood or stone and it will look amazing! Seriously!

Now go make another one.

The more you practice more skills you will build up. You will get the fine muscles, the organised thinking, and more challenging, interesting ideas. There is no such thing as Talent. There is Interest, skills, tricks of the trade, good, suitable materials and tools and practice.

Confidence is great but it does not always help tbh. Don’t be meaner to yourself than you would be to someone else. If you hit a block wrap the piece tightly in plastic and come back to it later. Note the first thing you notice when you un-wrap it: that is usually the bit that needs work or is really good.

Getting useful feedback is hard. Cover the piece, say to the person “tell me the first thing you think of” and uncover it. Keep your face neutral! Then ask ” what is the mood? ” or ” what is the model feeling?”

Making Small Figures

It should be so easy to make figures, right? You are one, from the inside out and you see them all the time! But it totally isn’t.

Studying the figure is used to train all kinds of artists exactly because it’s so challenging to what we think we ought to know. The extra skills a painter or sculptor needs to create figures so they can be used expressively are very different from the skills used to get to know people. And through the training we learn all sorts of amazing, beautiful things about how forms merge and flow into each other in nature, how to look objectively and how to understand the tricks and twists of human perception. And that opens doors to all sorts of other knowledge. It’s very rewarding work!

Portrait and Figure skills need a system that cuts across the fact that when an image goes in through your eye-balls your brain grabs it and interprets it according what it already believes. The system helps you relearn and re-interpret what you see in a way useful for making figures. And it breaks up the massive amount of information into manageable sections.

The more you practice these invaluable skills the more you will see improvement in all your artwork, your general concentration and your ability to see. Like a pianist ‘doing scales’ you will build up the small muscles, motor-skills and neural pathways involved in this challenging, rewarding activity.

It is not rocket science and you can do it.

The key to all sculpture is this:

1- Block out the form: decide the dimensions (height, width, length) including the base.

2- Work in rotations refining the whole sculpture at each turn (by adding or subtracting in the case of clay).

Working on a Small Scale.

Starting small will allow you to get your head around the issues and get results quickly.

Ideally use a clay with lots of grog in it because it will sag less, crack less, fire better or be stronger as self-hardening clay. Here I used Scarva ES50 Crank, an outstanding sculpture clay.

All Pottery Suppliers online will be happy to recommend clay if you tell them what you want to make. Clays are made from recipes so there are endless kinds. You want a Hand-building clay with fine-medium grog ( pre-fired grit). Throwing Clay for the wheel will resent being a sculpture and be hard to handle. Many ‘Self- Hardening ‘ clays are over-priced and difficult or unpleasant to use.

Bath Potters Supplies are really kind and helpful, have a lovely new website and a great selection of clays and tools for fair prices. And they are still open and delivering during the Pandemic.

How To Make A figure

Print out an A4 sheet showing both sides of a skeleton. Make your figure the same size as the skeleton so that it is easier to get the proportions just right which will make your figure look great.
Get about a tennis ball sized piece of clay.
Gently squeeze it into a thick sausage shape.
At one end press in a rough head and neck. About half-way down gently squeeze what will be the legs. Already people will see a figure!
Flatten it a bit except the head because in our skeleton state, where we all look almost exactly the same, we are wider than deep.
Press gently down the sides to block-out the arms.
Measuring is the key to getting the proportions right and that will make a world of difference. Without measuring 99% of people will make the head too big, the legs too short, the hands and feet way too small.
The tip of the tool marks one point, your finger marks the other: hold this and transfer it to your clay.
Now measure the width of the head….
Mark the measurements onto your clay head…
Cut away the excess clay.
Copying from the skeleton cut the arms and legs free.
Lay your rough figure over the skeleton and cut away all the excess clay.
Use Measuring and sketch the bones in place. This will make your progress quicker and better. Focusing on the placement of the bones is much easier than trying to capture the gentle curves of a specific person.
This is still the Blocked-Out form. You have used the Craftsmanship of Portraiture to get everything in it’s key, human-like place
Using tools, which will be more accurate than fingers and give a better bond and look to the clay, model on small bits of clay to flesh-out the shoulders. Work around the form, adding or subtracting clay to develop the body of the person you are making.
Add the depth .
Keep checking those measurements because they help so much and will stop you making exasperating mistakes that will distort your figure.
A handy trick is to put underwear on there. It will genuinely help you to get the chest, armpits, stomach and hips right because we easily remember and understand what underwear should like.
From there note that your elbows fit into your waist, your hands conveniently reach your crotch, and a hand is big enough to cover a face. Using your own body to check things really helps you remember them and to get poses looking natural and expressive.
The clay will be drying a bit now so a slight dab onto a damp sponge will moisten clay before you add it, to get a good bond. Never over-do the water or you will end up with mush!
Now you’re getting to the bits a skeleton doesn’t have but you will see clearly where
they go.You can use photos.
The main body features are not too tricky- it’s the areas in between that are difficult. But on this small scale one thing runs reasonably naturally into another. At this point add clothes if you want to. And you can turn the figure over and work on the back. (resting the front on foam is ideal). You are still at the blocking out stage so no details, focus on the main forms.
Then you are ready to bend your proportionally good person into an expressive pose.
This person is going to sit on a simple, natural shape. I’m making the seat hollow so that it’s not too thick to fire in the kiln. Up to 4cm is ok if your clay is gritty. If you are Self-hardening it, it doesn’t matter at all.
The skeleton’s joints tell you where the figure in meant to bend. The bones are the straight bits. Muscles and skin can stretch or bunch up.
A very common mistake happens when people bend the figure for sitting.
Stand up and put your palms on your hips: now sit. Notice your hands have not changed angle: we sit on the bottom edge of our pelvis . Feel the bones under there. Your buttocks wrap around the pelvis as you sit. The tops of the thighs and stomach may touch.
Dab a little water on top of the seat and rub it around until it is sticky. Gently put the figure in place and move it around until the two pieces are stuck together. (There are clear instructions about making joins at the bottom of this post. Very Important Reading!!)
You can try different poses. If bits drop off, no probs, join them back on. That’s the beauty of working in clay. You can change any bit at anytime until it’s dry and joins can’t be made any more.
When bending bits refer to the skeleton and your own body: note how the bones show close to the skin on a bent elbow or how the calf touches the thigh in a bent leg.
This my blocked out pose. Now I will work in rotations adding or subtracting clay to gradually improve the form and increase the emotional expression. Small changes in body language tell different stories. Right now she could laughing at a terrible joke, feeling embarrassed or starting to cry.
The story changes a lot with the angle of her back and where the weight seems to be.
Taking the pose myself I realize that with a straight back it feels like she must be laughing and that her hand would only just reach her mouth.
Act out the emotion and notice what your body does. Aim for despair and fear: the back bends right over. The hand covers the face and goes just into the hair line. The foot touching the floor goes up a bit on the ball of the foot. The knee of the bent leg comes up to add to the enclosed space around the breaking heart. Interestingly shaped negative spaces are formed between the limbs.
To hold the foot where you want it, steady the whole sculpture and define the space she is in, add more to the base and fixed on the foot.
Fix the hand to the head well.
Measure from the Skeleton and work on places that have become distorted. For example the for arm looks way too long: Start at the hip, measure the thigh bone, get the knee right.
identify the wrist, get the hand to the right size.
Check in the same way, by measuring that this elbow and knee are in the right place. Track problems back to the fixed points in the lower body.
Add a temporary support to hold the leg up and blow dry everything a bit to harden it.
It’s important to accept that it looks pretty bad at this point! But the key factors are there: the pose, the story, the proportions roughly.
Time to go back to the skeleton and get that back sorted.
Sketch on the rib cage. Your rib cage is a pretty rigid basket for keeping your favorite squishy bits in so they are safe. So when you bend forward it moves as a whole.
Horribly your arms are barely attached to you. Just a little cartilage in the middle at the top front of your rib cage! So one shoulder can be raised higher than the other, arms can go way forward or back and the shoulder blade slides over the ribs. Here one shoulder-blade is back, one is more forward.
The buttocks form around the tilted pelvis, no butt-crack in site.
Look again at the skeleton and remind yourself that the hips stick out of the side of the pelvis and the thigh bone joins on the there. With these joints clarified you can best measure where the legs start despite the fat and muscle covering them.
The shoulder position affect the placing of the elbows and so on.
Work on the neck a bit.
Improve the look of the seat.
Sort out the head shape and try some hair styles.
The elbow tucked in there tells of how afraid she is.
The foot is too big!!
Feel how the shoulder muscles go right up the back of your neck.
Feet can be overwhelming. But they have clear sections, sides and an iconic bottom. Take your time.
This arm is bent weirdly and has a crack in it: scoop away the whole crack area and replace with moistened clay to the fix the arm. If cracks are smoothed over they will reappear when the sculpture is dry and can’t be fixed.
Double check measurements yet again!
Work from all angles.
At this small scale keep details simple. But don’t be tempted to leave mittens!
Small metal tools are awesome for reaching into tricky areas.
This stone makes a perfect Temporary Support to reset the knee that had dropped a bit.
Work on the hands. Use the same level of detail as every where else or they will look like gloves.
Some blow-drying to stiffen every thing up a bit and the stone can go and any dent be touched up.
Improve the base. Undercut all around the edge to create a shadow that always looks good and prevents ugly chipping.

Dry your sculpture slowly or the limbs may crack as they will shrink faster than the rest of the form. A cardboard box placed over the top is ideal to slowly allow moisture to escape.
Self-hardened this will be delicate but last forever so long as it doesn’t get wet. Firing will make it stronger and water-proof. When it is dry/fired paint/wax/stain the surface : a simple all over bronze colour always looks great.

Quality Joints:

Genuine joins are formed when the chains of platelet-shaped particles from each section of clay inter-lock. Picture a magnified image of tangled hair.

‘Score marks’ do not give the surface ‘tooth’; they allow water into the clay-body. On vertical surfaces they hold the water in place to give it time to sink in and swell the clay so that the clay platelets are able to link with other platelets.

Slip is not ‘glue’, it is clay particles spread out in water and has little strength, especially when it has dried . It is ideal for holding a lot of water in place to give it time to be absorbed to soften the area of leather-hard clay.

Once both edges are softened put the pieces together and move them back and forth until you feel the edges lock together.
Manipulate the softened clay at the join to encourage further integration of those particle-chains and to disturb the straight line of the join; cracks love to zing along a nice straight slip-weakened join during the firing when the pull of shrinking stresses the sculpture.

Thicknesses: cracking/breaking.

How thick the clay can be to fire well depends on the amount of grog (the gritty bits of pre-fired clay ground to specific sized grit/dust that gives improved structure and resilience to your clay), the denseness of your modelling style, drying time and the speed of your firing.

Air bubbles trapped in the clay will expand with the heat. Grog and/or a loose surface will allow the air to seep through the clay. The same is true with water but steam expands fast. If your piece breaks into big bits during the fire it was trapped air and you will be able to see where the bubbles were in the shards. If it blows up into a trillion smithereens it wasn’t properly dry!

Drying:

I dry thick sculptures slowly under plastic which I turn inside out ( to avoid condensation pooling) daily for 4 weeks minimum and then 1-2 weeks in a plastic tent with a dehumidifier.  A card-board box makes a great, slow, draft-free drying chamber. A long dry allows the water to level out, as water loves to do, and that will enhance the structure of the clay within it’s new sculpture shape. You will get less cracks or distorting in the fire.

I fire very slowly with an 18 degree C rise until 600 degrees C. then onto full power up to the desired temperature.

Generally 3cm is a fair maximum thickness for a well grogged clay.

There is good essential advice about handling clay on the post about Coil Building.

How To Make a Head looks more closely at Portraiture and you will find it helpful. It talks about human heads but of course is relevant to all heads apart from the handy option of being able to measure with calipers from your own.

How to make Animals using clay armatures.

We animals are frequently surprisingly similar and identifying those differences can be really difficult. Furriness or our perceptions built around our relationships can confuse the information and make it hard to see. Skinny legs supporting big bodies or building on larger scale where the weight of the clay is a huge issue causes a lot of problems.

This is the same technique I now use for making heads.  A simple clay armature supports the weight throughout the build and gives you a central point that you can work outwards from, allowing that most important key to success: making loads of mistakes and fixing them. You get to avoid hollowing out so that you can play around with textures while you are building. And you will be using the process to reorganize the information in your head: there is no better way to do that than hands-on.

The skeleton is a stick-figure with the right proportions (so important when you are being species specific) set out clearly and unambiguously. Fur, muscle shapes changing with the pose and fore-shortening in photos can confuse you leading to sculptures that are a cross between lifeless, amateur taxidermy and stuffed toys.

The key reason making naturalistic forms is so hard is that our perception (the way we take in our knowledge) that we have built up over our lifetime of what shape the thing is, is based around our general experience of that animal. Making a sculpture of that living, moving, person requires going against what ‘feels’ right and using information we are unlikely to have bothered with before. Portraiture has a system to organise the huge quantity of subtle details. Learning this system will broaden your knowledge, and your access to more knowledge, enormously. That’s why the study of Portraiture and Figurative Sculpture is traditionally the bed-rock of making Art.

The more you practice these invaluable skills the more you will see improvement in all your artwork, your general concentration and your ability to see. Like a pianist ‘doing scales’ you will build up the small muscles, motor-skills and neural pathways involved in this challenging, rewarding activity.

It is not rocket science and you can do it.

Because clay shrinks as it dries and is floppy when very wet, a Clay Armature that will support and shrink with the form through the drying and the firing is invaluable. All other types of Armatures must be perfect in shape or they will ruin the sculpture. And they limit your option to change your mind. Most cause disruption because they have to be removed: clay will shrink as it dries and crack around a rigid armature.

Most techniques for building  hollow, coiling or slabs, have a strong ‘voice’ of their own and will influence the final look of the piece. They can demand that you harden lower sections before you can build upwards and you are then unable to change them when you later realize they are wrong. This is a real disadvantage irregardless of your skill level. It is better to work solid over a clay armature especially if you are not using a scale-model and hollow out just before finishing touches. It’s not difficult. That technique is detailed here: Working solid and hollowing out.   

Working solid is an excellent method. You set aside the ceramic requirement for certain thicknesses in the clay until you are sure you have the best sculpture you can make at that point. The armature holds the weight up. Some areas can be built hollow too. When you essentially have the look you want but just before finishing touches, hollow it out.

The key to all sculpture is this:

1- Block out the form: decide the dimensions (height, width, length) including the base. Your clay armature will do this.

2- Work in rotations refining the whole sculpture at each turn (by adding or subtracting in the case of clay).

Working on a Small Scale.

Starting small will allow you to get your head around the issues and get results quickly.

Ideally use a clay with lots of grog in it because it will sag less, crack less, fire better or be stronger as self-hardening clay. Here I used Scarva ES50 Crank, an outstanding sculpture clay.

All Pottery Suppliers Online will be happy to recommend clay if you tell them what you want to make. Clays are made from recipes so there are endless kinds. You want a Hand-building clay with fine-medium grog ( pre-fired grit). Throwing Clay for the wheel will resent being an animal and be hard to handle. Many ‘Self- Hardening ‘ clays are over-priced and difficult or unpleasant to use.

Print your chosen animals skeleton to A4 or less size. This is half an A4 sheet. It gives you your height and length for this small sculpture. At this size my horse wont get to thick to fire: my clay has a lot of grog (gritty bits) so I will get away with the sculpture being 4-5 cm thick if it’s fired slowly.
Measure the distance between the feet and make a slab-base 1-2cm thick. Guess the width. This base will hold the legs steady until you are sure where to put the pose.
Lay clay over the skeleton diagram to copy the basic shape and sizes.
Cut between the legs. make a Temporary Support. This will bear the weight and keep the form steady while you work on it. At the end it will be carefully removed.
The size and shape of the Temporary Support can be changed as needed at any time.
Ta Daa!
Photos of the chosen horse will help you place the feet in a good place. They are surprisingly close together, set under the weight of the shoulders (like ours) and hips.
Fix them down by blending the clay into the base. This can be changed right up until the piece is dry. You could cut off a leg or any other part and redo it at any time. That’s one of the great things about working in clay.
Blocking Out: Do a little improvement to every part of the form then do Rotations again with a little more. And repeat! Layers and layers of work will allow the form to develop evenly.
Focus only on the essentials: the proportions NOT details.
Each bit affects how the other bits look: you might think the head looks wrong but actually the head is good, it is the neck that is wrong and so on.
The movement of working will cause the clay to slump. Check the height regularly by measuring your skeleton diagram. Squeeze the Temporary Support to make it higher. Work on the legs. Use a hair dryer to stiffen it up a bit.
Measure repeatedly from your invaluable diagram to get the proportions that will make it look like a horse not a cow or dog!
The tip of the tool marks one point, your finger makes the other: hold this and transfer it to your clay.
Mark the measurement on the clay. Add or subtract clay. Measure the next bit. Etc.
Sketching on the bones after measuring them will improve your sculpture, speed up your progress and increase your learning hugely. You are expanding your knowledge, challenging your habitual ideas, developing your eye for detail and improving your concentration. It is hard, fascinating and massively rewarding skill-building that will enhance your life. Seriously!
Notice and model which bits go behind: the bones and muscle of the legs go over the chest and hips.
The joints show you where the bendable bits are. Muscles can shrink or stretch.
Once your form has stiffened up a bit use tools rather than fingers for better control and a better bond in the clay: pick up a small bit of fresh clay with the tool, dab it on a piece of damp sponge in a dish of water and model it onto the form.
Use very little water or you will get a mushy, sticky mess prone to cracking later.
Double check the height, lengths. This one has sagged a bit so I fixed that. Focusing on the placement of the bones is much easier than trying to capture the gentle curves of a specific animal.
This is still the Blocked-Out ARMATURE. You have used the Craftsmanship of Portraiture to get everything in it’s key, horse-like place
Now I have a clear framework for my Creativity to play with!
Once you have the proportions right you can create the pose, type, age, character and mood of your animal.
A simple turn of the head brings it alive!
As you bend the form into your chosen pose look from above and use the spine to guide you so it doesn’t get distorted.
Blow-dry it a bit.
Now walk away and look at something far away for a few minutes to clear your eyes. Turn back: what is the first thing you notice? That is probably a bit that needs fixing or it might be the best bit. Sort out any problems now. On this one the back legs are set wrong, looks like he’s peeing…
Block-out all the details like mane, ears and tail. These parts are very expressive so take time over them in rough and they can be refined in your next set of Rotations.
Play around with textures. I’m thinking about the semi-wild Mountain Ponies here in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The style you use should be consistent over the whole form: don’t over-do the face unless your whole animal is very detailed or it will look like a mask. Keep the features in proportion to the skull or it will look like a disease.
Use the tail and add plants on the ground to reinforce the legs. Work on the base to make it look as good as the animal.
At this point I set my self a very helpful Final Finishing Touches Rule;
A minimum of 5 Rotations with increasingly small tools: make additions of clay where ever you spot the need. Change tool and do a rotation of subtraction of clay. Then a rotation of adding etc, until you hit a rotation where you can’t see any more you could do. That means you have done your best on this piece.
If the legs are firm enough gently remove the Temporary Support in small pieces and touch up the form.
Trim the base nicely and under-cut it a bit to catch a shadow that will lift the whole piece and guard against ugly chipping. Sign and date the sculpture on the edge of the base or under-neath it.
Dry your sculpture slowly or the legs may crack as they will shrink faster than the rest of the form. A cardboard box placed over the top is ideal to slowly allow moisture to escape.
Self-hardened this will be delicate but last forever so long as it doesn’t get wet. Firing will make it stronger and water-proof. When it is dry/fired paint/wax/stain the surface : a simple all over bronze colour always looks great.

Working on a larger Scale.

I ran the following workshop over two days at the wonderful North Devon Ceramics Academy and Studio. Nicola Crocker and Taz Pollard have created a fantastic, fun, supportive and practical space for learning and sharing creativity in clay. I absolutely love teaching there. Nicola and Taz have a very genuine commitment to empowering other people and sharing their open and imaginative approach to the vast potential within ceramics. The Studio is spacious, bright and comfortable and the atmosphere is friendly, unpretentious and very encouraging.

This amazing group of all experience levels were a joy to work with. And they came up with some great improvements to the technique. You will also adapt it to suit your hands and ideas.

We are using the out-standing Scarva ES50 Crank clay (a stoneware clay with a lot of grog (ground up ceramic grit) in a variety of sizes from coarse to dust making it much easier to hand-build with because of the way it reacts with water (allowing for excellent joins) and it’s superb strength when leather-hard and also when dry. You can use different clays for the armature and exterior but using the same one means everything shrinks at the same rate during drying and firing.

Many thanks to Nicola Crocker for the great photos of the workshop.

The Technique:

Print out skeleton images of your animal, ideally in the same scale as you wish to make your sculpture, images of the whole animal and images of that animal in the pose you want. On to a stiff slab that will be your central support, carefully draw the skeleton.
This is an important opportunity to get your head around this animals construction. You can trace through the skeleton using pin-pricks or pressure. But measuring from the diagram to transfer the image will begin the process of clarifying your knowledge of the animal for the purpose of sculpture.
Here the skeleton is set clearly in a simple-to-read pose. The sketch is the pose desired. On the clay slab the skeleton is set in the pose. This is not easy to do, takes time and is a huge, worthwhile investment in your sculpture’s foundation and in your skills.
Using stiff slabs, stand your central support up ensuring it is nice and stable. Make good joins: while much of this supporting armature will be cut away eventually, some of it will remain and be useful during the firing.
Build outwards using images of the animal to assess the widths. Use comparative measurements: the rib-cage is twice the width of the head etc.
A narrow, standing figure like a meercat, will need something to support him or he will be and almost worst, look, very fragile. In the figurative tradition acceptable motifs are employed: think of those little shrubberies at the ankles of classic marble nudes statues. Or you can add a second figure and get support, a fascinating narrative and lots of fab negative shapes into the bargain.
Supports can added and removed all through the process. This wonderful student, herself a teacher came up with several practical and useful ways to improve this technique.
If you are comfortable doing it, build hollow. Or add the clay on solid. At this stage you are still building the frame-work for the sculpture: disciplined measurements will give you a great foundation that will give life to the artwork stage.

Squirrel.

This piece is all about the energy and character of this squirrel. The ‘fluffy tail’ can be a meaningless cliche and has not been used here.

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Work right around the form in layers giving full attention to the whole sculpture at each rotation. It is extremely important that you are always willing to cut off parts that are wrong no matter how long you worked on them. A beautifully crafted eye will look grotesque in the wrong place.
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Once your form is completely blocked out, with all proportions correct, switch to using tools to apply the clay rather than fingers. You will get a more attractive, stronger surface and can be more specific. A good habit is to go all around adding. Then all around subtracting, repeat until you can’t see what else could be done better at this point in your progression. Then hollow if necessary. Then do finishing touches (with small tools) Then poke a needle hole into any area that might contain trapped air.
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Add other types of supports if useful but remember they wont shrink with the form during drying so they can cause cracks.

Birds

Making birds is notoriously difficult because of their insane relationship with gravity. Work slowly in stages allowing the parts to firm up and add to the support system. Remove parts of your clay-armature cautiously in small stages.

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This flying bird will be set on a base as yet un-determined. The armature holds the pose well on this very tricky piece allowing it to change and develop.
Flying Bird.
Flaying Bird.
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A Crow.
This flexible technique can take you places you hadn’t thought of. Here the internal space has become part of the sculpture.
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A Crow.
Because the weight is supported and the skeleton provides strong boundaries you can play and feel your way around the form. The finished piece will need it’s own supports but here you can try various alternatives until you are happy with the look, strength and feel.
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A Crow.
Lots more trial and error will happen to this fascinating bird-scape in the next weeks.
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Flying Bird.
Take breaks, look out side to clear your eyes then glance at your sculpture and note what you first notice. If you hit a wall with it cover with a bag and walk away! I sometimes leave sculpture wrapped for months. I check regularly to mist with water and see if I can move forward again. Taking photos can be a good way to get some perspective. Ask others ‘what they see’ and compare that to what you want them to see. A dog that looks like a donkey has too big a head and too-tall ears for example.

Giraffe

A wonderful form where negative shapes play a stunning role. Their grace and movement is enchanting and very tricky to capture.

Giraffe.
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Giraffe
Five points of contact with the ground could give this piece stability but at this small scale those legs and feet are still so small. This elegant solution, where the central support is tidied up attractively and immediately becomes neutral, eliminates the distracting fragility.
Giraffe.

Wild Boar

This animal is iconic and has held it’s place in art for Millenia. It’s bulky form and thick fur can easily be over generalised into a blob on sticks. Here the skeleton secures the integrity of the structure. This sculpture is about his power and movement.

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Wild Boar
This piece will be completely cut away from it’s supports once it is firm to retain it’s shape, rested on foam and a hole made for a metal pin and base that will show off it’s galloping form once it’s fired.
Wild Boar
Wild Boar
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Wild Boar
The details of the face should be in balance with the rest of the sculpture’s texture and level of detail. At this small scale it is also a mistake to try and put on complicated detail. It will take a lot of time to find what can be left out. The skull will give you the clues: it is the structure of the face that matters.
Wild Boar

Cats

Cats are extraordinarily flexible and their exterior hides their structure. Making pets can be very difficult because we have so much knowledge of them that can cloud the sculptural information. Use the skeleton to keep on track with proportions that our nutty perceptions may think are similar to humans!

Crouching Cat
Standing Cat
Standing Cat.
Note the bend in the legs which is usually obscured by fur and the loose skin that allows cats to stretch so much.
Standing Cat
It is too soon for superficial details like ears. Focus on the key structure. This is still at Armature stage and it’s all about applying the Craftsmanship of Portraiture at this stage. The Arty, creative bit goes on top of that excellent, species-specific structure.
Crouching Cat.
The position of the bones and the length of the legs is very confusing and tricky to get right. Divide the problem into manageable steps:
Focus on the joint, they tell you where bends should be. Be sure the joint is in the right place.
Measure the bone’s length and swivel it from the joint.
Move to the next joint and bone. Etc.
Standing Cat.
This excellent, strong, central support allows you to place the legs where you want them on both sides to create the pose. Then the legs will stiffen and take on the extra work of holding up the weight of the body. The base should stay in place in the finished sculpture as it adds to the stability and strength of the legs. So, later that base can be made attractive.
Crouching cat.
Early stages with this one where it clearly wanted to be bigger! That was easy to change.
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Crouching Cat.
A beautiful, gentle way to address the eyes expressively, in keeping with the form.

Dogs

This student had gorgeous pictures of her adorable young dog, especially his loving face. But at this small scale she focussed on his movement and energy to portray him. She will paint his distinctive markings on in colour.

Dog
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Dog
Keep re-checking those measurements at every stage.
Dog
Dog
Dog
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Dog
The central support is removed gradually and with great care.
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Dog
The armature is cut away (but continues to function usefully inside). Needle holes will be poked up into the form to vent all the air pockets made by building hollow. Then a hole will be placed for a wooden dowel set in a base to display this dog leaping as he runs.

Meercats

These little guys have tiny feet and very slender legs. You could build some grass or rocks around their lower legs to give stability. Or add a friend.

Meercats
Meercats
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Meercats
Like the giraffe parts of the support wall could remain and no-one would notice because the charm of these characters and their friendship is far more engaging.
Meercats

Otter

This up-right stance gives similar problems to the meercats but the way otters stand gives plenty of attachment to the base.

Otter
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Otter
An otter’s simple form can be very difficult to capture. His gesture and poses are well recognized so that helps. Starting with the skeleton puts the key points of his body in the right place under that silky fur. There is a lovely change in loose to very smooth modelling on the surface that recalls water running off the fur.

The Horse

Like many big herbivores, horses have surprises in their skeletons that are key to their shape. A ridge of spurs along the spine limits over-flexing but also keeps predator teeth away from the precious spinal column. It defines their characteristic silhouette. The skull seems bizarre but get that blocked in well and the head will look great, even in a small scale.

Horse
Horse
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Horse
Follow the transition points of the legs very carefully.
Note how those big neck muscles cross and attach behind the shoulder blades.
At this stage it is almost as if the legs are just attached to the edge of the body but you now know those leg bones go right up near the spine and have a wide range of movement which can be gauged by measuring the length of a bone and pivoting it from it’s socket. It was suggested that you could cut up a spare skeleton in order to make a hinged ‘shadow puppet’ that could be helpful in designing the pose from a standing skeleton.
Horse
Taking full advantage of the central support.
Horse

Armadillo.

These guys go well out of their way not to look like animals all! They have extraordinary skeletons, well worth studying. But it has to be said that apart from getting proportions right, the hard shell-like outer skin means you see no clues of the bones showing on the armadillo’s surface. Their shell is a very subtle, beautiful shape with exquisite patterns.

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Armadillo
This student did all the skeleton work as part of the workshop. But then he switched to working solid/hollowing (this link takes you to a post specifically about that technique) out as a technique far better suited to armadillos.
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Armadillo
On solid clay use your skeleton to identify the right proportions.
Armadillo
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Armadillo
Use a serrated kidney tool to shape the body. Then use a flat wide modelling tool to add clay and further refine that gently undulating form.

Your central, weight-bearing support does not need to be flat/straight: Both of these abstracts below were built outwards from a stiffened, curvy, up-right central shape of various thickness set on a metal rod. You can see parts of the original central support where it became part of the final form, much like the sculpture of the Giraffe above.

Antarctic Harbinger III, 26cm H x 37cm W x19cm D.
Antarctic Leviathan, 45cm L x 23cm H x 12cm D.

Quality Joints:

Genuine joins are formed when the chains of platelet-shaped particles from each section inter-lock. Picture a magnified image of hair.

Score marks do not give the surface ‘tooth’; they allow water into the clay-body. On vertical surfaces they hold the water in place to give it time to sink in and swell the clay so that the platelets are able to link with other platelets.

Slip is not ‘glue’, it is clay particles spread out in water and has little strength, especially when it has dried . It is ideal for holding a lot of water in place to give it time to be absorbed to soften the area of leather-hard clay.

Once both edges are softened put the pieces back together and move them back and forth until you feel the edges lock together.
Manipulate the softened clay at the join to encourage further integration of those particle-chains and to disturb the straight line of the join; cracks love to zing along a nice straight slip-weakened join during the firing when the pull of shrinking stresses the sculpture.

Thicknesses: cracking/breaking.

How thick the clay can be to fire well depends on the amount of grog (the gritty bits of pre-fired clay ground to specific sized grit/dust that gives improved structure and resilience to your clay), the denseness of your modelling style, drying time and the speed of your firing.

Air bubbles trapped in the clay will expand with the heat. Grog and/or a loose surface will allow the air to seep through the clay. The same is true with water but steam expands fast. If your piece breaks into big bits during the fire it was trapped air and you will be able to see where the bubbles were in the shards. If it blows up into a trillion smithereens it wasn’t properly dry!

Drying:

I dry thick sculptures slowly under plastic which I turn inside out ( to avoid condensation pooling) daily for 4 weeks minimum and then 1-2 weeks in a plastic tent with a dehumidifier.  A card-board box makes a great, slow, draft-free drying chamber. A long dry allows the water to level out, as water loves to do, and that will enhance the structure of the clay within it’s new sculpture shape. You will get less cracks or distorting in the fire.

I fire very slowly with an 18 degree C rise until 600 degrees C. then onto full power up to the desired temperature.

Generally 3cm is a fair maximum thickness for a well grogged clay.

There is good essential advice about handling clay on the post about Coil Building.

How To Make a Head is essentially the same method and you will find it helpful. It talks about human heads but of course is relevant to all heads apart from the handy option of being able to measure with callipers from your own.

ROUGH Stuff: A Celebration of WILD Surface (April 25 – May 25, 2019) at Cavin Morris Gallery, New York.

Click here to view the gorgeous Rough Stuff Catalogue: https://issuu.com/cavinmorris/docs/rough_stuff_catalog_1

Joining Cavin Morris Gallery has widened my horizons enormously. The timing was perfect. For many years, while I was finding my place with clay, I had rarely looked at other art. My focus was studying aspects of the natural world and experimenting with the language of form. When Randall Morris contacted me I had just started really getting into seeing new art on social media, was settled into a spacious new studio, had lurched through one of those health dramas that gets you right in touch with the essentials, and was getting drawn into the powerful, mysterious beauty of The Brecon Beacons National Park, our new home.

The incredible exhibitions they put on at Cavin Morris, beautifully presented, are fascinating, engrossing, challenging and awakening. Randall Morris and Shari Cavin are geniuses at finding artists who are totally involved and living in their making. They are experts in their field and very interesting. Read anything they have written, it will be enriching.

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Shari Cavin of Cavin-Morris Gallery: “So the question becomes: How can we use self-taught artists’ biographical information? For, after all, familiarity with it can enrich our appreciation of their art. Self-taught artists create in spite of life’s obstacles. Their art-making may be seen as an act of courage in the face of life’s harshness. There is an undeniable moral influence that self-taught artists exert on trained contemporary artists. Their message: Stay true to yourselves.” 

Randall Morris: “This field may be seen as part of the broader contemporary-art scene but it doesn’t play by its rules. Critics and new scholars constantly try to chop the body to fit the bed, but this art has its own intentions and its own rules.”

“Outsider Art: Then, Now Tomorrow” by Edward M. Gómez in Raw Vision Magazine 93

They got me reassessing why people make their art and what really matters about people looking at and living with art. There are lots of answers to that and you need to find yours. There is a spectrum and it is not hierarchical. It’s important that there is variety so that we have non-verbal communication for every aspect of our lives.

This link will take you to a fab page of past exhibitions at Cavin Morris where you can see the variety of astonishing art they show: https://wsimag.com/art/46537-the-fire-within

Through the Gallery I now have a network of creative friends that inspire, support and challenge me and share the courage to really go for it. My sculpture has gained immeasurably. It has been set free and has far more to offer the people who find it.

Cavin Morris never interfere with what you are making. They watch and study, listening to the rhythms. They see connections between art works so that their Exhibitions are conversations. Like a concert of fabulous music they enfold you and you become part of it all.

As with all their excellent blogs the following has a great selection of beautiful, evocative images and the text is really interesting. I was over the moon to see this write-up and be part of this particular show: it says everything I hope I am doing.

http://www.cavinmorris.com/blog/2019/5/11/rough-stuff-a-celebration-of-wild-surface?fbclid=IwAR2zfcUnfIdcM31sumW_3EgSyQIwRNDhsC_rVvTAFnsyL2S-Hf0VnCJ_r4o

ROUGH Stuff: A Celebration of WILD Surface (April 25 – May 25, 2019

Ashwini Bhat
Rebecca Buck
Melanie Ferguson
Peggy Germain
Mitch Iburg
Yukiya Izumita
Mami Kato
Lucien Koonce
Eva Kwong
Sandy Lockwood
Kirk Mangus
Lesley McInally
Freeda Miranda
Andy Nasisse
Rafa Perez
Sara Purvey
Chris Rond
Tim Rowan
Monique Rutherford
Jeff Shapiro
Avital Sheffer
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein
Mike Weber
Jane Wheeler

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ROUGH STUFF: A CELEBRATION OF WILD SURFACE

April 25 – May 25, 2019

The title, “ROUGH STUFF” is a deliberately ambiguous play on words.  The viewer might immediately expect an exhibition of wood-fired ceramics with great accumulations of ash, imbuing the surfaces with chthonic primordial landscapes.   And yes, viewers will find some of that rich technique in this exhibition, but in fact, we had something else in mind.

We live in cynical times.  In cynical times the first concept to be sacrificed to the beasts of dogma is most often ‘beauty’ or ‘grace’. To us, beauty makes rough and exquisite demands that the onlookers slow down and, however briefly, give themselves up to its call.  Beauty becomes a warrior in a performance reaching back to archaic times.

We want the clay to live in this exhibition.  It is common to link sculpted clay to landscape, but landscape is changing all the time right in front of us, especially now.  Landscape is umbilically linked to Place, and the art that Cavin-Morris Gallery shows, from Art Brut to ceramics (sculptural as well as tea and sake), to ethnographic, has always been closely tied to the myriad ideas Place awakens in the artists’ mind.  That vision of place runs the gamut from untouched and euphoric to dystopian.

That is really mean by ROUGH STUFF: a celebration of wild surface.  It is an exploration of the idea that never has earth, air, fire and water been more interactive with our daily lives than now.  

Like the tensed horse head in Picasso’s Guernica, our earth in all its beauty and ugliness is screaming to be heard.  Through the translations of visionary artists, we can always hear its real voice. 

Sculptors who use clay work with the raw essence of the planet that most of us take for granted.  We wanted special work for this exhibition, and we found them, created by the remarkable artists we have shown for years, and welcoming some amazing sculptors we felt would augment the vision.

We deliberately chose to emphasize the non-utilitarian aspects of their creations, with very few exceptions. The artists  experiment with local clays, they display edgy aesthetics, obsessively working surfaces both in naked clay and glazed, without losing their basic respect for the clay body.

For additional information please contact info@cavinmorris.com or call us at 212-226-3768.

  Ashwini Bhat  Garden of Earthy Delights  , 2019 Fired clay with feldspar and natural ash 4.5 x 5.5 x 5 inches 11.4 x 14 x 12.7 cm ABh 1
  Chris Rond  Fusion 2  , 2018 Ceramic 3 x 6 x 5 inches 7.6 x 15.2 x 12.7 cm CRo 5
  Ashwini Bhat  Garden of Earthy Delights  , 2019 Fired clay with granite and mud dauber nest and natural ash 6.5 x 6 x 4 inches 16.5 x 15.2 x 10.2 cm ABh 2
  Eva Kwong  AMALI  , 2019 Stoneware, colored slips, underglazes, glazes 21.5 x 11 x 11 inches 54.6 x 27.9 x 27.9 cm EKw 1
  Ashwini Bhat  Beginning is the End  , 2019 Fired clay, with glass and garnet media and underglaze 8 x 3 x 7.5 inches 20.3 x 7.6 x 19.1 cm ABh 3
  Eva Kwong  ARIRI  , 2019 Stoneware, colored slips, underglazes, glazes 21 x 14 x 15 inches 53.3 x 35.6 x 38.1 cm EKw 2
  Ashwini Bhat  Beginning is the End  , 2019 Fired and painted clay, with glass and garnet media and glaze 7 x 7.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 19.1 x 11.4 cm ABh 4
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled (crown)  , 1950-1980 Painted Clay 4.5 x 8 x 7 inches 11.4 x 20.3 x 17.8 cm EV 45
  Ashwini Bhat  Origin of Species  , 2019 Fired and painted clay with natural ash 22 x 12 x 7 inches 55.9 x 30.5 x 17.8 cm ABh 5
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled  , 1960-1980 Hand dug clay and paint 10 x 5 x 5 inches 25.4 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm EV 46
  Ashwini Bhat  Alive Series  , 2019 Fired and painted clay with glaze 6.5 x 9 x 6 inches 16.5 x 22.9 x 15.2 cm ABh 6
  Eugene Von Bruenchenhein  Untitled  , 1960-1980 Hand dug clay and paint 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm EV 47
  Andy Nasisse  Dark Matter  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 19.75 x 21.5 x 3 inches 50.2 x 54.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 2
  Freeda Miranda  Organic 2  , 2018 Ceramic 4 x 5 x 5 inches 10.2 x 12.7 x 12.7 cm FMi 2
  Andy Nasisse  Tantra Terra  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 24 x 16 x 3 inches 61 x 40.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 4
  Freeda Miranda  Organic 1  , 2017 Ceramic 3.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches 8.9 x 14 x 14 cm FMi 3
  Andy Nasisse  Red Head  , 2017 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 22 x 22 x 3.5 inches 55.9 x 55.9 x 8.9 cm ANa 5
  Jeff Shapiro  Shield Series  , 2012 Woodfired Ceramic 20 x 13.5 x 8 inches 50.8 x 34.3 x 20.3 cm JSh 42
  Andy Nasisse  Ear Wig  , 2016 Ceramic, multi-fired with overglaze 17 x 16 x 3 inches 43.2 x 40.6 x 7.6 cm ANa 10
  Jane Wheeler  Black Ice Flagon  , 2013 Stoneware clay with chun glaze, slab built 14.75 x 9.45 x 6.5 inches 37.5 x 24 x 16.5 cm JWh 3
  Avital Sheffer  Inannah V  , 2009 Handbuilt earthenware 26.77 x 12.99 x 7.09 inches 68 x 33 x 18 cm ASh 2
  Kirk Mangus  3 Flying Houses Ziggurat  , 1982 Stoneware, white tapies glaze (inspired by Antoni Tapies) 12.5 x 7 x 7 inches 31.8 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 1
  Chris Rond  Fusion 1  , 2018 Ceramic 5 x 3.5 x 3 inches 12.7 x 8.9 x 7.6 cm CRo 2
  Kirk Mangus  2 Skulls  , 1993 Local stoneware, paddled with artist's own carved wooden paddles, wood-fired 7 x 7 x 7 inches 17.8 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 3
  Kirk Mangus  2 Warriors  , 1993 Local stoneware, paddled with artist's own carved wooden paddles, wood-fired 8.75 x 8 x 7.5 inches 22.2 x 20.3 x 19.1 cm KMg 4
  Kirk Mangus  Aurum  , 1984 Stoneware, colored slips, salt glazed 17 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches 43.2 x 19.1 x 19.1 cm KMg 5
  Kirk Mangus  Swirling  , 1984 Stoneware, colored slips, salt glazed 15.5 x 7 x 7 inches 39.4 x 17.8 x 17.8 cm KMg 6
  Kirk Mangus  Looking  , 1982 Stoneware, gooey glaze 15 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches 38.1 x 26.7 x 26.7 cm KMg 7
  Lucien M. Koonce  Tri-Footed Hanaire  , 2017 Hand formed stoneware clay and natural ash glaze; wood fired (anagama side stoke area) for five days to c/12 8.25 x 4 x 4.5 inches 21 x 10.2 x 11.4 cm LKo 8
  Lucien M. Koonce  Hanaire  , 2018 Hand-formed stoneware clay (with native North Carolina clay) and natural ash glaze; wood fired (anagama side stoke area) for five days to c/12 9 x 4 x 4 inches 22.9 x 10.2 x 10.2 cm LKo 9
  Lesley McInally  Goodnight Noises Everywhere  , 2015 Porcelain and stoneware coil vessel 17 x 18 x 8 inches 43.2 x 45.7 x 20.3 cm LMc 1
  Melanie Ferguson  Circles In The Sand  , 2014 Handbuilt stoneware, sgraffito, flashing slips, oxide stains, celedon liner. Soda fired, heavy reduction 11 x 12.5 x 10 inches 27.9 x 31.8 x 25.4 cm MFe 25
  Melanie Ferguson  Resurrecting Fragments  , 2013 Hand built stoneware, flashing slip, kohiki slip, oxide stains, sgraffito, gas fired in soda 13 x 10.5 x 9 inches 33 x 26.7 x 22.9 cm MFe 45
  Mitch Iburg  Fond du Lac Formation 1  , 2018 Sandstone fragments, glacial clay, dolomite, limonite 9 x 19 x 12 inches 22.9 x 48.3 x 30.5 cm Mib 30
  Mike Weber  Tsubo  , 2018 Wood-fired stoneware 17 x 15 x 15 inches 43.2 x 38.1 x 38.1 cm MWe 31
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 8 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 20.3 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 12
  Peggy Germain  Grande jarre  , 2018 Ceramic 11 x 11 x 8 inches 27.9 x 27.9 x 20.3 cm PGe 1
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 7 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 17.8 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 13
  Peggy Germain  Petit jarre  , 2018 Ceramic 3.5 x 4.5 x 8.5 inches 8.9 x 11.4 x 21.6 cm PGe 2
  Mami Kato  Tsuchi zaiku  , 2018 Ceramic 9.5 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches 24.1 x 11.4 x 11.4 cm MmK 15
  Rebecca Buck  Wyvern VIII  , 2015 Ceramic 15.35 x 27.95 x 13.39 inches 39 x 71 x 34 cm RBk 4
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic 12 x 3.5 x 4.5 inches 30.5 x 8.9 x 11.4 cm MRu 11
  Rafa Perez  Untitled  , 2012 Porcelain and stoneware, fired at 1150 degrees 19.69 x 13.39 x 10.24 inches 50 x 34 x 26 cm RPe 25
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic with carbon trap shino 9.25 x 7 x 6 inches 23.5 x 17.8 x 15.2 cm MRu 12
  Sandy Lockwood  Subduction Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 7 x 7 x 6.5 inches 17.8 x 17.8 x 16.5 cm SaL 24
  Monique Rutherford  Untitled  , 2017 Wood fired ceramic 10 x 5 x 3.5 inches 25.4 x 12.7 x 8.9 cm MRu 14
  Sandy Lockwood  Gleaning Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 12 x 12 x 3 inches 30.5 x 30.5 x 7.6 cm SaL 25
  Mike Weber  Trinity  , 2018 Wood-fired porcelain 17 x 11 x 2.5 inches 43.2 x 27.9 x 6.4 cm MWe 30
  Sandy Lockwood  Fish Box Series  , 2016-2019 Stoneware and inclusions 8.5 x 6.25 x 6 inches 21.6 x 15.9 x 15.2 cm SaL 27
  Sarah Purvey  Rhythm - Landscape Series  , 2012 Ceramic 23.62 x 16.93 x 11.42 inches 60 x 43 x 29 cm SPu 4
  Tim Rowan  Untitled  , 2019 Stoneware 8.5 x 17 x 8 inches 21.6 x 43.2 x 20.3 cm TR 165
  Tim Rowan  Untitled  , 2019 Stoneware 10 x 21 x 9 inches 25.4 x 53.3 x 22.9 cm TR 166

Saturday 05.11.19Posted by caroline casey http://www.Cavin Morris.com


Thank you Ashwini Bhat, here with Randall Morris and Shari Cavin at the Rough Stuff Private View, for the following lovely photos!

Studio Diary: The Marking Time Sculpture at Bronllys Hospital, Powys, part 10: Finale!

Many thanks to Talgarth FYI and Ann Dierikx Photography for this:

Official Opening of the Marking Time Sculpture and Woodland Walk, Bronllys Hospital on June 22 2017

5 days ago in Community News by FYI:Talgarth

Official Opening of the Marking Time Sculpture and Woodland Walk, Bronllys Hospital

Thursday June 22 saw members of the Powys Teaching Health Board come together with artist Rebecca Buck, Veterans and Powys County Council Cabinet Ministers plus invited guests to officially open the Marking Time Sculpture and Woodland Walk.

Along with The Green Valleys Organisation (TGV) the Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) has been working with and supported by Powys Forces Covenant to create a woodland walk which will allow patients, staff and visitors alike to take some quiet time in the small mature woodland adjacent to the hospital. TGV working with forces Veterans over the past year have created a route through the wood featuring a large fired sculpture by Brecon Beacons artist Rebecca Buck. The project group also worked with children from two schools, Mount Street Primary in Brecon and Llandrindod High School, children from Mount Street Primary attended the opening and were delighted to see the fired tiles they had created in situ.

The event was opened by Carol Shillabeer Chief Executive of the Local Health Board and attended by Chair of the LHB, Professor Vivienne Harpwood, Vice Chair Melanie Davies. After an introduction and thanks to all working on the project, Veteran Mick Farrell gave a small speech of thanks to those who made the project possible especially volunteers such as Mark Christmas who has worked tirelessly on the project along with Gareth Ellis of The Green Valleys.

Many elements of the walk have come from other areas of the local community such as garden design by Seza Magdalena Eccles of ‘Hideaways in Hay’, poems commissioned for the walk from poet Emma Van Woerkom and Mark Christmas. The mosaic which forms part of the sculpture was made by the children and the created tiles fit in and around the sculpture which were made and then cast in 3 sections.

After some light refreshments and a display of the works, groups were led around the walk and the children from Mount Street joined the group for photos. Rebecca Buck the artist commissioned to make the sculpture which draws inspirations from Welsh icons such as Dragons and Red Kites gave and emotional speech. A poem which was written by Veteran Mick Farrell, especially for the Walk was read by Michael Eccles of Hideaways in Hay.


We are the child of nevermind
Who, finding dreams lost, unfind
Who, wandering, walking paths unknown
to find a woodland overgrown
And seeing in that woodland Glen
Who elfin laughter laughly speak
Of how we humans keenly seek
Some new haven overhewn
And child stars of the moon
Mick Farrell, 2016

The sculpture is viewable in the ‘Woodland Walk at the Bronllys Hospital Site just opposite the Veterans ‘At Ease Garden’ created by the same Group.

Powys Teaching Health Board Website: http://www.powysthb.wales.nhs.uk/home
Artist Rebecca Buck: https://ospreystudios.org
Garden Design: Seza Magdalena Eccles : http://hideawaysinhay.co.uk.

Photos supplied by Ann Dierikx Photography : http://anndierikx.com

Artist Rebecca Buck (rhs) talks to Chair of PTHB – Professor Vivienne Harpwood and guests

Vivienne Harpwood (lhs) with Carol Shilabeer and other guests with Lydia Powell and Paul Evans of the Bronllys Wellbeing Park

Jacqui Wilding Community Health Council Welsh Assembly Appointed Representative (Veterans) with PCC Cllr Aled Davies

Children of Mount Street Juniors, Brecon

Mark Christmas with Carol Shillabeer

Janet Eppleston with Veteran Mick Farell and Melanie Davies Vice Chair PTHBT

Gareth Ellis The Green Valleys with Sophia Bird PTHB

Gardens designed by Seza Magdalena Eccles

Guests Adele Nozedar and Emma Bevan

Leader of Powys County Council Rosemarie Harris chats with Mike Lewis former High Sheriff and Aled Davies Leader of Welsh Conservatives PCC

Paul Evans talks to garden designer Seza Magdalena Eccles

Seed packs were given as gifts to the children who worked on the sculpture

Gareth Ellis of The Green Valleys with Talgarth County Councillor William Powell and ‘Forager and Writer’ Adele Nozedar

More wonderful photos from the event from Ann Dierikx Photography