Kathy Forer on wed 25 jan 06
On Jan 25, 2006, at 11:06 AM, Centa Uhalde wrote:
> Thanks. I'm just continually frustrated with my seeming inability
> to get
> stuff off the ground with clay. I want heft, size, tallness,, and I
"Getting stuff of the ground" is an essential technical concept
underlying much traditional sculpture. It is as important as scale,
form, context, surface and content -- material, technique and style
-- though it seems to lack a good singular encompassing noun, the
closest perhaps being structure or support. It's a basic challenge of
the kind that leads many people to make sculpture in the first place
-- How do you get a standing figure to support itself with those
Collapse will undermine structure. So will imbalance, lack of
material integrity, unstable siting or display; inability to sustain
load, fight gravity or resist wind.*
So how do you get a soft material to stand tall? Kind of like telling
one of those "perpendicular" jokes boys tell at around fifteen --
limited only by the imagination.
Internal structure, external structure, material self support, a
sculpture can be thought of as a body, with bones, muscles, tissues,
systems. Also removable support. http://www.diydoctor.org.uk/projects/
One external structure technique taught is use of a mounted removable
metal prong. Something like a horizontal fork to support the clay,
removed before hollowing or firing.
You'll learn about structure by experimenting with different
materials. Build a house of cards, a cloth tower, try a figure out of
wax. As wax is somewhat more rigid than clay it will allow more
structural liberty. Hang things, lay them flat and stand them up, see
how they change. Clay has its own nature, see how it responds to
different shapes and forces. How does it compress, lean, twist, bend,
Don't rely on firing to make your form, discover its structure using
whatever techniques or principles you can find.
"Work small, work smart" (as my dance teacher used to say) is a
wonderful way to explore principles.
Centa Uhalde on wed 25 jan 06
Thanks. I'm just continually frustrated with my seeming inability to get
stuff off the ground with clay. I want heft, size, tallness,, and I get
collapse. It's probably my add. You said something about making sections
that you put together after firing. Don't they need to go together as
Kathy Forer on thu 26 jan 06
>> stuff off the ground with clay. I want heft, size, tallness,, and I
>> get collapse.
> "Getting stuff of the ground" is an essential technical concept
> underlying much traditional sculpture.
"Getting stuff of the ground" is as much impulse or motivation as
technical concept, and I don't mean to be getting into semantics.
It's the reason why we do something.
Your intention is to make something with "heft, size, tallness,"
utilizing whatever means you can. You need to explore both your
mental picture and whatever structural methods seem related.
"Heft" implies weight though not necessarily solid weight. Cloth and
surface have heft too. Why is the object hefty -- because it carries
weight or has a low center of gravity?
Are you looking for size alone or scale? Height is also
proportionate. A four inch figure that's only half an inch thick is
"tall" while a four foot figure that's three feet wide might not seem
Is your object loose or dense? Does it have long flowing lines or a
solid lock on the internal form? Because there are so many ways of
making something you want to find one that's appropriate for what you
want. Also knowing that the process will greatly influence or even
determine the outcome.
What kind of surface expression are you looking for? Density can
imply complexity or solidity. You can compress and squeeze clay or
stretch it out and open it up.
You can build up a form little by little or construct it close to its
final size. Whatever method it will be apparent. Find a way you like
to work and pursue it but keep your eyes open to other ways.
I like to have only a rough idea of what I'll be doing, allowing the
process to influence my vision as much as possible. That way there
are often unexpected discoveries and treats, the clay is speaking as
much as it's doing what it's told to do. Even so the method tends to
be the same, modeling and building up and carving and hollowing out.
The form becomes very dense and worked. But I also like to work clay
loose and open though even then they tend to have a core density to
them. Not necessarily of clay but of gravity or weight. The density
is a result of compression due to the absence of structural material
strength. Planning could result in more material strength and thus
less density, more lightness, but that's not what I've been looking
for though if I want more spontaneity I'll have to plan more.
Just keep producing and you'll figure it out.