Diane Echlin on wed 24 apr 02
Hey folks, it's me again, working on writing my ceramics curriculum for
I'm developing a project for highschool students in which they create a
life-sized bust of themselves...
I've never done this type of sculpture in my own pottery life---does one
create an armature out of something? must it be removed? Does one
re-inforce a coil or slab construction from the inside as it is built
This is uncharted territory for me...thanks so much for your help!
Lee Burningham on wed 24 apr 02
Easy way to do it is have it done out of coils. Add a middle reinforcing
wall, front to back, on the inside, to keep it from tweaking forwards or
Richard G. Ramirez on wed 24 apr 02
Much information is out there in books! Sometimes, one has to take the
journey, see whats in between,.. to appreciate the answer...(huh...???)...
Rich in Cool Sacto....
----- Original Message -----
From: "Diane Echlin"
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2002 8:50 AM
> Hey folks, it's me again, working on writing my ceramics curriculum for
> grad school...
> I'm developing a project for highschool students in which they create a
> life-sized bust of themselves...
> I've never done this type of sculpture in my own pottery life---does one
> create an armature out of something? must it be removed? Does one
> re-inforce a coil or slab construction from the inside as it is built
> This is uncharted territory for me...thanks so much for your help!
> Send postings to firstname.lastname@example.org
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iandol on thu 25 apr 02
Dear Diane Echlin,
My suggestion is that if this is to be treated as a finished ceramic =
piece that your students use thick slabs and also build a matrix of =
thick slabs as support within the body of the bust. these will weigh =
quite a bit if they are to finish up as life size.
I suggest you get hold of Bruno Lucchesi's books: Modelling the Head in =
Clay and Terra Cotta. I think they are still in print. He does use an =
armature but shows how to remove this and re-assemble the head.
The late Frederick Chapeau who worked in Australia demonstrated many =
times at conferences and used the method I describe above with the =
internal clay supports. If you do this watch the drying.
Snail Scott on thu 25 apr 02
At 11:50 AM 4/24/02 -0400, you wrote:
>I'm developing a project for highschool students in which they create a
>life-sized bust of themselves...
>I've never done this type of sculpture in my own pottery life---does one
>create an armature out of something? must it be removed? Does one
>re-inforce a coil or slab construction from the inside as it is built
Normally, I avoid armature of any sort, but busts
are a special condition, since necks are thin and
actually tilt forward from vertical. A head attached
to an entire figure is pretty well anchored, but
a bust starting from the neck is rather unstable.
One solution is to have the bust start at a point
below the shoulder, to give a nice stable base. I
recommend that the clay extend down from the neck
to the work surface to support the weight of the
head. Having the neck rest on the shoulders is
begging for warpage either during wet-clay work
or during firing. Let the neck clay stiffen a bit
before beginning on the head, but keep a strip of
dry-cleaning plastic over the top edge so that it
will have the same dampness as the clay that will
be added later. This method of work will allow you
to avoid armatures, and the only reinforcement
needed will be a vertical clay 'buttress' extending
though the neck to the work board, and up into the
head if needed.
Another solution is to do a traditional armature.
You can find pictures of such structures in many
books oriented toward traditional-style sculpture.
An easy way to construct one is to screw a flange
(from the plumbing aisle of the hardware store) to
a base board, then screw together an assortment of
short threaded pipes from the same source. Try an
8" straight pipe, then attach a 'T' connector. Some
people like to run stiff armature wire through the
'T' connector. I prefer to wrap the connector in
layers of newspaper. (The problem with this is that
unless your program is well-heeled, all these cheap
parts can add up to a high cost when multiplied by
20 or so students.) With this method, almost no
handbuilding skills are needed (or learned), since
the clay is just smushed up against the armature
and then the surface is carved and shaped. After
stiffening to leather-hard, the piece is cut in
half with a knife, pulled off the armature, and
scooped out to a more normal thickness. Then the
halves are rejoined by slipping and scoring.
A third method is a bit of a combination. Just
take newspapers, wad them up densely, and tape
them well. Construct the approximate shape of the
bust, at life-size. A version including shoulders
will be more stable, but it will work without, too.
After the newspaper is formed, slabs (not too thin)
can be laid over the form and shaped. When the
piece is leather-hard, the bust may be cut in half
as described above. Alternatively, pliers or dull
scissors can be used to shred and pull the (now-
damp) newspaper out through the neckhole in chunks.
(The shrinkage of the clay means that if the paper
form was lifesize to start, the clay piece itself
will be lifesize when complete.)
All these methods work well. For a school situation,
though, I would avoid a constructed armature as
described in version 2, and go with 1 or 3. Version
3 will be less demanding of clay skills, though
version 1 will certainly teach them more about