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updated fri 1 oct 99


D. Kim Lindaberry on tue 16 sep 97

Hello All,

Over a year ago a fellow clay artist asked me if I had heard anything
about some kind of wire or material that could be used as an armature in
a clay sculpture. She had heard about something that would help support
a wet stoneware piece and that could be left inside the clay piece that
was to be fired. I know of several ways to support hollow clay
sculptures but this was more along the lines of a support that would be
inside of a solid clay human figure (say about 18" tall)to help support
arms and legs. I told her no I didn't, but I now find myself wondering
the same question. Is there such a wire or material? I understand the
basic problem that when the clay is fired it shrinks and that the metals
(I'm used to) would expand and cause breakage, but perhaps there is
something out there I'm not aware of? Any ideas? TIA


D. Kim Lindaberry
Johnson County Community College
12345 College Blvd.
ATB 115
Overland Park, KS 66210-1299

to visit my web site go to:
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Mary Hays on thu 18 sep 97

Hi Kim,
I've been doing sculpture and have researched that question myself.
But since the sculpture needs to be hollowed out before firing anyway, the
best method for me has been to use newspaper to cover an armture and cover
the paper with plastic. Working the sculpture in stages as it gets leather
hard helps prevent sagging, etc.
When i want to do a special piece where i need a wire armature, I use
plasteline (oil based) clay, then make a mold.
I sure wish there was a magical solution, but i don't think there is. As with
everything, both ways has pros and cons.
Check out "TerraCotta" The Technique of Fired Clay Sculpture, by Bruno
Lucchesi. It's an excellent book.
Good Luck!

Mary Hays in Blue Springs, MO

Tadeusz Westawic on tue 23 sep 97

I have used broken electric oven/broiler element as napkin ring holders
in cone 5 firings. Would they do for sculpture armature? Who knows?

The element has a tubular outer sleeve which I suspect is nichrome or
kanthol. This sleeve is packed with soft refractory and embedded in that
is a very fine coiled element. The refractory both stifffens the tube
and insulates the coiled element from contact with the electrically
grounded tube.

I keep them (the broken oven elements) around to test someday as rack
material for tile setters. I suppose a beader would find the very fine
inner coiled element useful.

Tadzu -- in five-days-straight-raining SW New Mexico where nothing is
drying but the desert is green.

Harriett Gordon on tue 23 sep 97

I have many years of sculpting in clay behind me, so I understand the wish
for armature/supports. But I would strongly caution anyone against using
any wood or wire armature INSIDE the clay, and LETTING THE CLAY DRY around
an armature. Shrinkage will destroy the clay form as it dries around the
unshrinking armature, BE IT WOOD OR METAL. If you must use an internal
support, be sure to remove it as soon as your work stiffens up enough to
stand on its own, even short of leather-hardness.

A useful technique I have used, where an arm (or other part) needs to
protrude and be supported, is to build an EXTERNAL support-armature, out of
the same clay (which will shrink at the same rate). It can stand under the
work in progress, and to be cautious, can go into the kiln with the
finished piece - to prevent any sagging in the firing.

Happy Potting
Harriett Gordon (and since some of you want to know) from Sunny Alhambra

Joseph Herbert on tue 23 sep 97

About the "I wonder if they will burn out" in reference to bamboo skewers in
clay. I am reminded of two stories. Story the First - A teacher of mine
related the experience of standing beside an indoor electric kiln when the
contents reached the decomposition temperature of Styrofoam, which someone
had used as an armature in a sculpture. From her description, "Burn Out"
doesn t accurately describe the event. It does not include the part about
running from the choking smoke or the strings of sooty carbon hanging from
everywhere. "I ll just use these tires to support this piece, I wonder if
they ll burn out." The answer is Yes, but Story the Second - Another
teacher (not of pottery related things) invited me to go pistol shooting with
him. It s a guy thing to do, and I did. After popping away for a few rounds
(inaccurately) at the target, there was a cease fire and we trundled down to
see the results of our shooting. One of the rounds had hit the upright (a 2
x 2) leaving an entry hole. He then said, "I wonder if it went through?" We
were shooting .44 magnum rounds from a rifle and pistol which is "the most
powerful " and I felt like he didn t really have a good grasp of just what
was going on there. I confirmed that opinion when, as we traveled home, I
asked him to clean his guns in front of the fireplace. Since we lived in the
opposing sides of a duplex, I thought this a reasonable request. He asked
why and I had to remind him that there were just two layers of drywall
between my head and his pistol. His expression indicated that this was a new
idea to him. At that point I sort of wished I had a fire place to sleep in
front of. Nothing bad happened but it wasn t because of planning on his
part. You could also add to these the recent post about homemade bone ash.
"Yeah, but I didn t know it would SMELL."

You don t necessarily know all about what you think you know, and some of
what you know you know is wrong. The creativity of Chaos is enticing to a
certain kind of mind but keeping the number of variables down can save you
from bad things. While it may slightly restrain that upside gain, it may
also keep you that one step from the abyss.

Cheery as ever
Joseph Herbert

Bjerkan on thu 30 sep 99

Hi all,
I'm wondering if anyone has tried using fired paperclay as an armature =
sculpture...I was thinking about trying it, but I have so many =
Thanks in advance for any insights=21
peggy in the napa valley where they are harvesting
grapes and the air
is intoxicating=21