Clay Vessels

While I’ve made several thousand clay vessels, I specialize in multi-sectional thrown floor pots with sculptural handles and surface variety. I’ve recently rediscovered the potential of slip coating and mixing of various clay bodies on the same work. These techniques were incorporated in a variety of thrown vessels and sculptural works. While the larger clay figurative works are very specific in content and narrative, the clay vessels are organic, with figurative elements of ribs, bones and spinal passages. The general form relates to the human anatomy of foot, shoulders, arm-like handles, necks, and the top relating to a mouth or lips. Firing methods included gas-fired and wood-fired reduction, which is an oxygen-starved atmosphere, allowing for darker body tone and unusual glaze effects.

Clay Sculpture

I find the greatest challenge in larger scale figurative sculpture, including dimensional tile work. Rarely is anything pre-visualized and the final clay work often deviates from the sketches depending what the piece seems to need to come alive and essentially become believable with a strong presence. Having chosen a standard thrown pedestal style and size for the series posed some significant technical issues for clay construction, namely that the clay base and figure limbs must be built up carefully from the bottom with coil construction and interior support walls. The clay must dry slightly to support weight above while keeping the lead edge moist enough to accept new clay. This limits the ability to make alterations as the piece is built and the form takes shape as it develops, suggested by the base structure. Green Sabatine, Angel Crown, The Hound of Heaven, and The Resurrection: Victory over Death all share deviations of limb or muscular structure, and larger heads, recalling an ancient African figurative tradition of emphasizing the head, or neck adornment, the seat of intellect or royalty. Decisions during construction depended on making the pose believable, sometimes giving it bigger than life qualities, even adding extra limbs if the piece called for it.

The Coming is an 8ft by 12 ft. wall piece of dimensional clay tiles epoxied to plywood panels. Based on the 4 horses of the apocalypse, accompanying demons are scattered by an angel of the Lord from above. 98 sections required 21 kiln loads to be fired and involved a complicated process of drying, reassembly, glazing using spray application, stains, and wax sections to accomplish the surface patinas and color. Approximately 400 hours were required to complete the work.