Experimental ceramic figures

I have been developing a way of creating sculptures with a clay and textile mix on a wire frame.

The figures (usually felted) are changing in response to the theme of ‘Fragility’ for the Prism Textiles Exhibition at Hoxton Arches gallery, London next month.

 

There is nothing the least fragile about my felt sculptures that go through a very vigorous, wet felt process. By creating a ceramic sculpture I have introduced an element of fragility to the form – or that is my intention!

 

 

The process thus far:

The figures have a twisted wire skeleton – 2mm and 2.5mm to reinforce the standing leg.

I made a paper clay slip with stoneware clay, paper and water and used this to soak ribbons of cut knitted woollen fabric to bind around the wires – then left to dry.

I repeated this process with the same material to shape the arms and the hips and legs. The torso was formed with solid clay to add a textural contrast.

Once dry I polished the torso clay to bring it up to a smooth shine – but only possible in places so not very sucessful!

Firing the figures

I have placed the figures in a foil ‘saggar’ with a range of colouring materials.

Materials:

  • Seaweed powder (spirulaena)
  • wire wool rusted
  • copper wire
  • banana skins
  • salt

I wrapped fine wire wool and banana skins around the figure securing them with copper wire. Spirulaena and salt was sprinkled on last and wrapped the whole in layers of foil.

Figure wrapped in foil

 

Then out to the yard and my steel bin!

I put a good 30cm of sawdust in the bottom of the bin and lined the sides with wood. I then placed two foil parcels of figures onto the sawdust base. Long ribbons of fabric soaked in white spirit were tucked into the this layer and then filled the rest of the bin with smallish pieces of wood. Finally I pushed more spirit-soaked fabric through the four vent holes, into the layer of sawdust, at the bottom of the bin.

I lit the kiln from the base of the bin – lighting the four fabric ribbons.

Once the fire was really going – about 8-10 minutes – I closed the vents with fire proof fabric kept in place with bricks.

Finally, once I was sure the fire was hot and fierce, I put the lid over the flames and there it stayed for 18 hours (over night).

Link to Raku firing

The materials have added plenty of colour to the figure and happily there are no cracks in the clay!

My final task is to find a suitable base in which to set the figures!

Question – do I add a wire head dress? Gold leaf to highlight? Lacquer? Hmmmm……

 

 

 

Advertisements

Figures in ceramics – work in progress

 

The Prism 2019 theme is ‘Fragility’ and knowing just how robust the process of making the felted figures is I really can’t imagine them as fragile. However by combining clay with the fibres on wire would create a fragile form – the fibres being burnt out in the kiln….

Problems:

  • I am not a ceramicist! – I did experiment with this technique during my degree but is was rather unsuccessful.
  • Finding a kiln – could ask the lovely people at Brighton University where they have huge kilns that I used to experiment and the Phoenix centre rent kin space – not as big….. or I could pit fire the pieces myself…..

Chris Dunn – great teacher

First attempt 22.10.18

Looks good – shows potential however the clay cracked on drying and on further research realise that I should use a paper clay…

As I have already bought a large slab of stone ware clay and a pot of slip I need a recipe!

Next… paper clay making!

 

The Mollies – large felt sculptures

Life size (in height) felted sculptures in their beautiful new home in Colorado.

The first  Molly, ‘Tall Molly’, took 6 months to develop and has been followed by two more and there is another  in the planning to fill this amazing space.

1C39B383-FE7C-4D1E-964F-3BDC1821695AFBB3A08E-778F-4360-8619-FD9196DD62A3

Commissions welcomed!

 

Felt Bowl

Shades of Time

White, natural Blue Faced Leicester wool bowl, Lino printed with a figurative motif. This small bowl looks wonderful against the contrasting, polished dark wood.

This is an example of a new line of sculptures that I am working on for my Etsy shop. More images and information soon about new products and shop opening.

 

 

Full size sculpture

It has taken me about 6 months to develop a full size felt figure and there have been plenty of problems to overcome along the way when upsizing from a 40cm tall figure to one that is 4 times bigger!

From these small figures…

 

…to this one – 164cm high

The problems I encountered were due to the scale of the figure and they began with the wire.

I tried heavy fencing wire however this just wasn’t strong enough to hold the figure up right one leg so I had a length of steel tubing  bent to follow the line of the spine down to the toe of the standing leg and built the rest of the body around this structure.

The musculature was added beginning with a layer of knitted woollen strips to cover the wire to form a base for the wool fibres. I used Blue Faced Leicester wool, wet felted in layers, to build the shape of the body and a steamer and sander to aid with the felting and fulling.

The final layer or ‘skin’ was felted separately and then stitched onto the the figure.

As you can see from the variety of figures in this post I have made several more! I am now going to experiment with adding the colour and texture straight onto the figures to cut out the rather lengthy processes of making the felt skin, stitching it in place and fulling with steam and sander. So watch this space!

Prism 2018 Hoxton Arches Gallery

One of the best Prism exhibitions!

‘TRANSIENT’

A selection of artworks from the exhibition

My submissions

Life dance

Comprised of 28 small figurative felt sculptures.

I use the wet felt method to create these little figures

Exploring the Senses

Two large figurative sculptures suspended

Both pieces together in the gallery

My art work is for sale and I also welcome commissions.

Please contact me for further information.

Molly

New felt sculptures

I am working on four new felt sculptures in the form of Modern Dance.

ECHOTEK

The movement and emotion in this art form is wonderful and I use images of dancers to create the sculptures.

Starting with a wire I make a skeleton and then cover it lightly with knitted fabric to give me a soft layer to attach the wool fibres. I then build up the musculature with layers of wool fibre using soap and water to felt so that the final shape is firm and well sculpted.

 

The decorative skin is a piece of handmade felt that I hand stitch onto the body of the sculpture – this is the most time consuming part of the process.

Three dancers ready to be mounted on wood

I love the contrast between the rough felt and smooth polished wood – both are natural and compliment each other.

People often ask me how to look after their felt sculptures – and it is very simple!

Just wipe gently with a damp cloth to remove dust. Moths are the main concern especially in the summer. You can buy moth killer to spray on the felt or periodically put the felt sculpture in the freezer over night – this will kill any moth eggs.

I will be posting the dance sculptures in my shop in the near future and if you are interested in ordering a sculpture or would like me to notify you when new sculptures are ready – please contact me.