Focus for the New Year!

Last semester I began an inquiry into human emotion through facial expression and portrait bust sculptures. I also did much research through discovering the complexities and color variance of crystalline glazes. I would like to finish the second bust that I began last semester, but more importantly I have new ideas that I want to explore. The idea of human emotion and expression is still the foundation of my research. However, in an effort to embark on a new form of figure sculpture, I’d like to focus on the art of tattoos. My main goal this semester is to create a series of body parts that are comprised of smaller detailed sculptures of tattoo subjects. For example, a dragon and cloud tattoo on an arm would be a sculpted dragon and clouds that form the volume and shape of a human arm.

Subject Matter : Expression through Tattoos

Form : Figurative Sculpture

Content : Choice in tattoos usually holds deep cultural and personal meaning for individuals. They physically express emotions through chosen artwork by the wearer instead of natural emotional expression through body language and facial gestures.

Context : I’m trying to relate this form of personal expression with my previous study in emotional facial expression.

Format : By sculpting the individual imagery-objects of a traditionally inspired Japanese style tattoo, I will then construct the human body with these pieces.

Making Method : Handbuilding. Detailed carvings.

Materials : Cone 6 Porcelain with Underglazes for vibrant colors

Chili Bowls for Sale!!!

This gallery contains 26 photos.

Tomorrow is the Annual SUNY New Paltz Ceramic Chili Bowl Sale! You can find these beauties along with MANY others near the front of the library. We will have bowls for sale that you can fill with regular or vegan chili for FREE. Come out to buy a bowl and support the ceramics department. Mine […]

Hey I went to a workshop!

The weekend of September 21-22 I got to spend time with the amazing Tip Toland at the Clay Arts Center in Port Chester, New York. Over two days and approximately 16 hours we were given demonstrations and hands-on learning to begin making our own aged portrait busts. Tip is most recognized for her hyper-realism and expressions in portraits of the elderly. The first day we went over the basic structure of a portrait and working from an armature. From there she went over facial mapping in great detail, stressing frequently the importance of understanding anatomy and symmetry. The second day was focused primarily on adding in the facial features, changing expressions, and aging a figure. It was a real privilege to get one-on-one instruction from her to begin working on my projects for the semester.

Here she is! The magical and wonderfully sweet Tip Toland.

And this was what I ended up with at the end of the workshop.
The beginning of a portrait of my grandmother.


First Round of Test Tiles

So I’ve been testing Crystalline Glazes to use later for the special forms that will be inside my portrait busts. This weekend I unloaded my first test kiln and it felt just like Christmas! I began with four different bases and used a single colorant (copper carbonate) just to see how each would react. I now have two bases with great results to continue testing with different colorants. From left to right each photo represents copper carbonate percentages of 0%, 0.75%, 1.5%, 3%, and 6%.

Dan Turnidge's MFE

Dan Turnidge’s MFE Base
Ferro Frit 3110                50%
Silica                              22.5%
Zinc Oxide                    22.5%
Lithium Carbonate           5%

This had nice large crystals with clear visible backgrounds.

Fa's Base
Fa’s Base
Zinc Oxide               25%
Dolomite                   5%
Ferro Frit 3110       51%
Silica                        19%
I also added an optional 3% Lithium Carbonate

This one had large crystals, but they were also overcrowded and didn’t have much background.

Fa's #5

Fa’s #5
Zinc Oxide               27%
Talc                             5%
Ferro Frit 3110       50%
Spodumene              4%
Silica                        14%
Add in 2% Titanium Dioxide

This came out with nice uniform coloring, but the microcrystals were too small & caused everything to go matte.

Helen's Base
Helen’s Base
Ferro Frit 3110          48.40%
Zinc Oxide                  24.35%
Calcined Kaolin            1.52%
Silica                            17.95%
Titanium Dioxide         7.78%
Add in 5% Lithium Dioxide

This last one was the most interesting because something in the base caused a bit of yellowing in the colorant. I liked it because it also had very clear large crystals with a good background.

My favorites so far...
My favorite’s so far are the results from Dan Turnidge’s & Helen’s Bases. I cannot wait to see what the other color combinations bring out on my next batch.

Current Projects in the Works

Project 1: Study in Portraiture

Six facial studies in order to gain an understanding of portraiture through clay. Photos and sketches to be kept alongside practice portraits for comparison. Glazing/staining undecided at the moment, but interested in keeping a natural look.

Portraits of 2 Children, 2 Men (young & old) and 2 Women (young & old)

Project 2: Expressions

4 Final Portrait Expressions larger than life-size: Joy & Sorrow, Fear & Hope

These expressive portraits will hollowed out and then able to open along a hinge or sliding base that separates the pieces in order to reveal abstract forms hiding within.

Project 3: Soul – Sculptures

Several abstract bulbous sculptures that represent the inner emotions and experiences of the portrait personalities made in the previous projects. Spherical orbs will be altered to represent such ideas as physical abuse, heartbreak, child-like innocence, depression, etc. I will eventually combine my research in crystalline glazes to encourage more crystal development in the “damaged” areas through seeding. This will show how difficult life experiences lead to beautiful personal development.

Just the Beginning

Well, what can I say? Grad school is a little bit different than what I expected, but mostly in really positive ways! In addition to making new friends and being covered in a pile of reading, I’m learning a lot about working on teams and how to plan and research my ideas before starting them. Thus far I’ve spent the majority of my time searching for the perfect clay body. I began looking through Val Cushing’s Handbook and taking suggestions for recipes. I was looking for a cone 6 white body and a cone 10 porcelain. After making eight batches of 1000 grams each, I finally settled on two recipes based on their throwing abilities. The cone 6 white body is a recipe from a student of Andrew Martin, and it has the versatility of adding fine grog for sculptural work. The porcelain I chose was Jeff Cole’s translucent recipe, and it was perfect in test form. However, learning is usually about making mistakes. I made an incorrect substitution in my large batch and have some work ahead of me to correct it. I know I won’t ever make that mistake again, but I’m glad that I have the guidance and support necessary to move forward. After all, this is just the beginning, and I’m excited to share where I’ll be going.