Art Camp Day 5 – August 5

At Camp Claudia McGill, art is our subject. With only one camper, me, well, I get things my way, every day. I conclude a week of camping and it’s been illuminating, for certain.

Today I decided to focus on clay, and I split the activity into two parts. Number one involved taking bisque terra-cotta tiles (really, remnants of tiles that didn’t turn out so well when I made blank TC tiles a while back) and turning them into cat portraits. The cat theme caught my attention a couple of days ago.

Secondly, I have switched to using low-fire clay. It handles a little differently than the stoneware clays I have been using, and I wanted to practice a bit with it.

So. Cats first. The pictures tell it all. I am using Velvet underglazes and scratching through to reveal the terra-cotta orange color for outlining.

Before I started working on the cat tiles, I rolled out and formed these cylinders with white low-fire clay, the same as I used for making the words tiles earlier this week. I let them stand and dry out a bit. The clay comes out of the bag very wet. I needed the cylinders to be stiff enough to hold up to some handling and not to slump over.

Cylinders drying small 8-16

I have used the cylinder form as the basis for all kinds of items, especially figurines. It’s been a while since I did much handbuilding and so I started with a familiar form – the goddess figure. I have made many of these over the years.

Lady standing 8-16 small

Typically, I will squeeze together the top (the lady’s shoulders), leaving an opening into which I insert her neck and head. I decided to try something different – I left two openings, one at each end of the “shoulders”, and I put her arms into them instead. I will have to be very careful with this figure after it dries and before it is fired; the arms will be very fragile and prone to breaking. We’ll see how it goes.

Lady with outstretched arms 8-16 small

I made this odd figure. No further comments!

Figurine 8-16 pre-bisque small

Finally, here is a group of three.

Cylinder people 8-16 small

In the past, I have usually embellished figures such as these with all kinds of relief – scraped lines, added tendrils of clay, patterns of holes, etc. This time I have left them pretty plain. I plan to add the details through color instead – using the Velvet underglazes.

These must all dry, and then go through an initial firing. Then I’ll take the next step.


8 thoughts on “Art Camp Day 5 – August 5

  1. Laura (PA Pict)

    I love the cat tiles. They each have so much personality. As ever, I am enjoying watching your process as someone who has barely a passing knowledge of working with clay. I absolutely love that figure you describe as odd and also the trio. There is something quite pleasing about their minimalism and the grouping of them as a trio. I will look forward to seeing how these evolve.

  2. Claudia McGill Post author

    Thank you. I am a little worried about the threesome, as I have strayed from my usual go-to of texturing them a lot, which then dictates how I finish them with underglaze. My usual will not work with these, as they don’t offer a surface to accent with glaze. Regular glaze will obscure the features. The clay is stark white and not pleasing in of itself. I had thought of keeping the face area plain and doing something like Hawaiian shirts on the rest of them, meaning lots of color and pattern. I could try a simple iron oxide (rust colored) stain, but that leaves me bla and I don’t like that look on white clay. Hmmm. I need to research. I am not sure now about any of it but – I’ll see when they come out of the kiln after the first firing. And, if I mess up, they were super easy to make. I can just do more if I want!

  3. Pingback: Art Camp Revisited | Claudia McGill and Her Art World

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