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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weasal Shaman

This is another of the group of small ceramics I did a while ago.  The sculpting goes quickly, but the glazing takes a while.

She is a weasel - and a shaman! There are bear shamans, squirrel shamans, and God knows what else shamans, so why not weasel shamans as well? Just to be sure that everyone is aware of her esteemed status, I have inscribed the words "weasel shaman" on her cloak.

Also on her cloak, I've stamped various small symbols from commercial stamps made for paper crafting. They do a very nice job on this clay, and then the glaze pools in the impressions and makes them stand out.

One of my goals for the near future is to design my own collection of small stamps for clay.
 
P.S.  I identify very strongly with this piece.  She is me!  Or, more properly, I should say "She is I!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Little Donkey

 
I think this little donkey is more successful than the needle-felted horses I've made even though they are so close to each other in shape.  Perhaps I just feel more empathy with donkies.  We used to have three horses and three donkies and although I loved the horses, I loved the donkies a little more - they were such free spirits!
 
Her hooves are polymer clay, so there were a few extra steps on the armature before I could actually begin the needle felting.  This little girl has the traditional markings with the cross over her spine and shoulders.
 
In the picture below, my donky meets up with the little alpaca the my sister Shelley made.  The two became instant best buds, and in this picture, the alpaca is telling the donkey a secret!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Beryl and Graham

Beryl and Graham are two European badgers who began their existence on my kitchen table.  In the first photo you can see one at the armature stage and the other at the point that the armature has received its first layer of wool.
In this second photo, the left one has its core wool completed, ready for the pelt and the face detailing.  Of course, the one on the right is finished.
 
Here they are playing and being silly - one of the badgers' main occupations!

Monday, March 16, 2015

How To Make a Hedgehog

I wanted to make a ceramic hedgehog, but the question was how to make the spines.  I suppose I could have rolled and attached each one individually, but I figured that would take forever.  What I needed was a shortcut.

So I attached them in strips.  Each strip began by rolling a clay snake then pressing it so the cross section was a tall narrow triangle.  The short base would be the part that attached to the hedgie's back.  I laid the strip on one long edge and used a knife to cut "V" shapes into it all along the length.  This formed squared pointed spikes.  Then I attached the strip.  After several such strips the back was covered in "spines." 

Each spike has a square cross section rather than a round one.  But we'll see how it looks when it's glazed.

The tricky part was lifting it into the kiln without breaking any of the spines - they were quite brittle once the clay dried.  But they were quite bend-y when the clay was wet.  I considered putting it into the kiln to dry, but I figured the problems would be the same either way.  In the end, I was able to lift the dry piece by the snout and lay it carefully into the kiln.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Small Painting

 Our local art club is having its 50th anniversary this year.  We're having a party to celebrate, and part of the celebration will be a small souvenir painting for each guest.  Various members, myself included, are volunteering to do the paintings.  They will all be on 5"x7" canvases.

By the way, I'd like to say that Dick Blick's (www.dickblick.com) little canvases are very good quality and a great bargain at $1.99 (for the 5"x7" size).

I have volunteered to paint 5 of them, and here's my first, an acrylic painting of a hare amongst the bleeding hearts and ferns. I think the color scheme is successful.  And the hare has a sweet expression.  My error (at least one of them) is in the bleeding heart foliage.  I drew it from memory.  After I finished the painting, I happened to run across a photo of bleeding hearts in a gardening catalog that had just arrived in the mail, and I saw that my memory of the foliage - although fine regarding the color - fell short regarding the shape!

I guess I'll call it "artistic license."  I've checked, and mine is current.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Edwardian Chipmunk

This little chipmunk (she's 3 1/2" tall) is, I think, my favorite of all the ceramic pieces I've made so far.  She's demurely dressed in Edwardian costume.  She's a quiet-mannered little girl, though she likes to get wild now and then.

I made and fired her hat separately because I wasn't sure I wanted to use it, but, in the end I decided to and glued it on.  I used E6000 glue which worked well because it's so good on glass, which is what the glaze is, essentially.  The feathers were generously contributed by my chickens.  I glued them into a tiny hole I had pierced in the hat before I fired it the first time - a rare example of planning ahead!

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Little Rabbits' Garden Party

 The glazing on these little ceramic rabbits was quite tedious, but the sculpting was lots of fun and I'm so happy with the outcome.  They're each about 4" tall, and the three together make such a cute group.  My design concept was that the little rabbits are going to a pot luck garden party, each bringing their favorite vegetable from the garden.

Penelope is bringing a pepper.

Philippa is bringing carrots.

And Portia is bringing a lovely cabbage.

Generally, this process went quite smoothly, but I made a mistake in the second firing.  While the glaze was still wet, I placed the vegetables (which were sculpted and glazed separately) in place in the rabbits' paws, expecting the glaze to act like glue.  It did before it heated up in the kiln.  But at some point in the firing, the pepper and carrots fell to the kiln floor.  I was quite surprised that I was able to pry them off the kiln floor - I was expecting that they'd be stuck in place forever.  But I did get them up and glued them in place.  Lesson learned!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Magikal Messenger

 This crow shaman was one of the pieces in my last batch of ceramic sculptures.  Because the design was so simple, the challenge was to get his head really looking good, which I think I did a reasonable job with.

The cloak is stamped with the phrase "magical messenger" and also with two very similar small spiral armed stars.  The star stamps were designed and made by someone I know locally who used to be in the business.  I'm planning to design my own stamps for my clay work and I think that will make them more truly mine.

As I work more with the glazes I'm getting accustomed to what they do in the kiln and am also getting used to the rather messy look of them.  I'm almost to the point where I really like the mottled effects and the colors running together.

I remember in the past declaring that I would never get into ceramics, but I'm glad I have!