Tag Archives: sculpture

Green Man a how-to-tutorial

I recently got a commission to make a Green man and I took the opportunity to document the process.

I make my green men and women using basic hand building techniques.  I start with a large lump of clay 5-6 pounds and I form a shallow bowl just like a large pinch pot, slowly pressing into the lump and squeezing until I have an oval shape that is 1/2 – 1″ thick, and the sides are 2-3″ tall.  The bowl shape is about the size of a large face.  I go large because fired clay shrinks with each firing and I want them to be on the monumental side.

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Then I wait,,,when the clay is ready, and this is crucial, it’s time to start pushing, pressing, shaving and adding clay to form a face.  The clay needs to be pretty pliable but not so soft as to collapse.  The thickness of the bowl helps by giving without ripping.  How long to wait? That depends on the humidity and can be slowed by wrapping tight or loosely in plastic.  Resist the temptation to hurry the drying as this will probably just form a stiff skin on the out side making it hard to push.DSC_5402

I use photos of faces, my own face and my fingers as a ruler to rough out the proportions. I concentrate on eyes, nose and mouth since the rest will be covered by leaves.  It takes several days working a few hours each day to finish the face.  The clay is kept moist by sponging with water and wrapping in plastic during the forming phase.  This is important so the leaves will adhere properly.  It also allows for fine work at the end of the process.DSC_5418 DSC_5420

 

The leaves are cut from slabs of clay about 1/4″ thick.  I use real leaves collected in the fall, green leaves rot quickly but some have to be used green for example grape and paw paw because they don’t store well.  A large green man can take up to 36 leaves.

The assembly must be done on the kiln shelf because the piece can’t be moved once it is dry.  I add a coil of clay in a circle around the face to attach the leaves and give a little space for fingers to pick it up.DSC_5443 DSC_5445

After the piece is completely dry, it is bisque fired to cone 04.  The item featured here took over a week to dry because mother nature brought on the rain that week and even with fans I had to do a two day slow dry in the kiln to be sure.  Be careful drying in the kiln, you can dry out the skin and leave a bit of moisture inside leading to a spectacular explosion and a pile of shards.

drying...

drying…

still drying....

still drying….

After the bisque firing the piece can be handled, the dust washed off, and glaze or stains applied. One more firing to a higher temperature, cone 4, and then we wait,,,,,, for everything to cool off!

all fired up in the kiln

all fired up in the kiln

 

after the first firing

after the first firing

 

Who Who Who? Owls that’s who!!

The owls have arrived in a variety of sizes and colors.

who's on first?

who’s on first?

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Still working on a poem, these things take their own time.

who are you?

who are you?

 

 

 

They are a HOOT to make so more will hatch…………

Here’s the poem!!

 

 

poems are included with each owl printed on bright card stock and tucked inside.

  Owl

Who sits silently in the trees

Who takes flight on the midnight breeze

Scourge of rodents near and far

Sage of the woods Who sees all

Who’ll keep watch all through the night

Counting stars while you sleep tight

Bacchus /Dionysus Greenman

A new Greenman has made it through the fires.  It’s been awhile since I’ve made one and I started this guy in September when I picked a variety of grape leaves.  They must be used fresh unlike oak leaves that last for years.

Detail of Bacchus

Detail of Bacchus

Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and Dionysus is the Greek god of wine.  I like wine too.  So I combined the Greenman  with a couple of gods and voila!!

The addition of grapes & curlicues completes the references to the fruit of the vine.  I finished this piece with a spray of various green stains that are fired on at stoneware temperatures.  Ready to hang indoors or outside.

To read more about the process of building a green man see the Women of Appalachia post.

Women of Appalachia

Scarred Woman

Scarred Woman

This work was recently juried into the fifth Women of Appalachia Art Exhibit on display in the Multicultural Center Art Gallery, Baker Center, Ohio University.  The exhibit runs through December 10  Then I believe it moves on to Chillicothe, OH.

There will be two events with spoken word and musical work performed on Nov 1 and Nov 7 details at  www.womenofappalachia.com

“Scarred Woman” above epitomizes the Appalachian woman who has been through the fire and may be marked by life but not broken.  The resilience and creativity that my friends and neighbors bring to every day life is truly inspiring. DSC_0008_4

Paw Paw Green Man Sun

Paw Paw Green Man Sun

Paw Paw Green Man is also in the show hanging beside his sister.

The process for making my green men and women are basic hand building techniques.  I start with a large lump of clay and form a shallow oval bowl shape about the size of a face.  This is pretty thick and the sides are 2-3 inches tall.  When the clay is ready, and this is crucial, it’s time to start pushing, pressing, shaving and adding clay to form a face.  The clay needs to be pretty pliable for the first roughing in but not so soft as to collapse.

I use some photos of faces and my own face to get the proportions and I usually go large as the clay shrinks in the fire.  I only need to do eyes, nose and mouth because the edges of the face are covered with leaves.

It takes a few days of a few hours each to finish the face.  The clay is kept in a plastic bag so it will dry slowly.  This allows for finer finishing at the end.

The leaves are cut from slabs of clay, using real leaves.  A large Green Man can take up to 36 leaves.

The assembly has to be done on the kiln shelf as the bone dry piece is very fragile.  After the piece is completely dry it is bisque fired, if it survives I either spray on stains for a soft finish or dip into glaze for a shiny finish.  It is then fired again to a much higher temperature.

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SNEAK PEEK AT NEW WORK

slumped glass "silica -based Life Forms; Flower"

slumped glass in a clay base
“Silica Based Life Form” Flower

Here are a few pictures of my new work.  I started experimenting with slumped glass a little over a year ago.  It all came about because Meigs county OH no longer recycles glass of any kind and the powers that be will not even entertain the thought of a bottle bill.  Being an avid recycler since the early 70’s I literally could not throw out something so easily recyclable.

After viewing an online how to video I realized I could create my own clay molds to slump the glass.  I grabbed all the bisque ware I had, broke up a bunch of bottles filled my “molds” and started firing.

Naturally nothing worked out the way I planned (if that ever happens I will be pretty sure I’m dead) but the results were very interesting and spurred me on to continue the experimentation.  I quickly learned that the edges are razor sharp, invested in a variety of gloves, and carried on.  A few people have suggested that I should soften the edges but quite frankly that is my favorite part.

detail photo of sharp edges from "In the Eye of the Storm"

detail photo of sharp edges from
“In the Eye of the Storm”

Eventually I decided to mount the slumped glass in clay bases.  I use either a white stoneware or a beautiful dark red/brown clay with black specks called Nelsonville Pottery clay by Columbus Clay Co to recreate the starbrick clay used to make bricks that are still in use today in Nelsonville’s streets and sidewalks.  The work quickly took on the look of trees, flowers and fish.  I plan to exhibit my “Silica based Life Forms” in the window of Starbrick Clay Art Studio at the September Final Friday in Nelsonville on September 27.  It will remain up for a month, if you’re in the area check it out, if you’re not it’s worth the trip

 Silica Based Life Form Trees

Silica Based Life Form
Trees

 

 

Silica Based Life Form Fish

Silica Based Life Form
Fish