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My Process

When constructing larger pieces I usually create a model first called a maquette which is roughly 1/7 the size of the finished piece. Sculptors down through history have used maquettes as preliminary sketches for their larger pieces. Henry Moore and Robert Arneson are two famous sculptors who consistently used maquettes. Many times drawings will precede the maquette as a planning tool. The maquettes are used to assist in deciding which pieces will be realized in the larger form. Although the maquettes are used as working models, many are finished and function as completed sculptures.

The construction process of the larger piece always involves measuring to capture the "essence" of the maquette in the larger piece. At some point the larger piece takes on its own character and many times there is a considerable departure from the original maquette.

Most of my sculptures use hand-rolled coils with slab and pinch areas as needed. Internal clay braces are used for support when necessary. The clay is a coarse 25% - 30% grog, outdoor sculpture clay to minimize shrinkage, cracking, and warping. The larger pieces are constructed in modular sections of 50 lbs. or more. The sections fit together with a flange system for the stability of the structures. Completing a large piece may take weeks or months. The bottom sections must be firm (dry) enough to hold the weight of the upper sections as the piece gets taller. The top rim must continue to stay moist so new (wet) clay can be added.

After completion the piece must dry slowly and fired in the kiln very slowly. It may take from 3 to 6 months to complete a piece. According to Jon Toki, a contemporary large scale ceramic sculptor: "Cracks are part of the territory in a large piece."

Despite the long construction process, as well as drying and firing challenges, I think my work is easier to appreciate in the larger scale. The urge to touch and embrace the pieces are very tempting to the viewer. There is a feeling of life exuded from the pieces which is more pleasing in the larger scale.


click images to enlarge

Maquette segments are assembled
to create the larger form...
...or they may be built
as a single form.
 

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The Artist in the Studio
       

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