Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to Sculpt a Hare

I was very fortunate as a child to have extremely artistic and crafty parents. My dad is a very good sketch artist and incredibly talented wood worker and photographer. My mum is an amazing writer, storyteller and painter. When I was a kid my mum actually taught ceramics classes in the basement of our house - something you probably couldn't do now-a-days - which were open to neighbourhood kids and retired women.

Our basement was always full of a multitude of different ceramic pieces for her students to buy and paint and my mum had everything from glaze to acrylic to chalk. Because she had glaze, and because she used greenware (unfired ceramics) my mum also had a kiln. 

Having a kiln really was one of the coolest things which I most appreciated after I graduated from High School and still wanted to work with clay.

Moving to London has meant leaving behind the advantages of access to my parent's extremely well kitted out basement (My dad has a table and ban saw) and therefore having to think outside the box when it comes to my creative endeavours.

I love sculpting and truly, of all the art forms I've come to embrace, it has been the one I have the most passion for. Recently this love has turned into a sort of frustrated energy as I lack the space and resources to do the sculpture I did when I lived in Canada and only a five minute drive from a free kiln. I set out to find a material I could use to satiate this desire which wasn't as expensive as a polymer clay as I wanted to do something larger. In fact, I'd really love to do an incredibly large scale sculpture, in the realm of Henry Moore although not abstract, but for now that remains something on my To Do list for life.

Through just a small bit of research I was able to locate non-firing clay at a suitable price which would be delivered to my door. I promptly ordered it and then, upon receipt, popped it into my art supply drawer and left it for some weeks.

I knew I waned to sculpt but I wasn't sure what and I was still restricted by a lack of suitable studio space to get properly mucky in. In my experience creative energy tends to build and build until it becomes either nervous energy which keeps me from sleeping or it spills over and I am forced to create and stop making excuses about the space I have. 

On a particularly lovely day my energy peaked and I rapidly set myself up outside with a bowl of water and my lump of clay. And this is what I made.
The initial structure. I let the clay dry a bit after I got this far
so I could make modifications which would hold in place
as I don't like using wireframes. 

I left it to dry for some hours before adding the legs.
The body needed to be firm enough to hold it's own weight
as the legs are quite narrow. 

A view from the front after the legs were finished.
I made sure the clay was less wet when I was working with it.
Soggy clay tends to 'wilt' and often whole sculptures will
collapse on themselves. 

After a week of drying. For non-firing clay it's best to
let it dry slowly so I'd kept it loosely covered in cling film. 

The finished product. After it's dry you can paint it with pretty much
anything you like and then use a sealing spray.
In this case I painted it with acrylic. 

I'm really pleased with this piece as it's the largest I've ever sculpted out of clay
and given that it was my first time working with non-firing clay I think I managed all right. 

To see more of my artwork or to order a custom piece visit 
If you want to learn how to motivate yourself to do your own creative projects visit

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