Figurative Ceramic Sculptures by Clay Artist Pamela Day Pamela Day Studio Wixom MI
Figurative Ceramic Sculptures
Work In Progress
Jesters in Progress I wish I had started photographing Jesters earlier in the process, but here it is about 40% developed.  The body, hands, hat and balls are close to completion.  Notice the stylized-realism of the piece - this allows for exaggeration of features to accentuate the character, such as its elongated neck and facial features. The clothes and balls still need definition, design and texture.  But you can definitely see its attitude and expression has evident! Jesters is all hollow - even the points on his hat and the balls. (In the background you can catch glimpses of my studio.)
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Here you see Jesters with the clothing defined, designed and with texture. Notice the gravitational pull of the "fabric" at his wrists. Also, the balls are textured, designed and where they belong.
The title 'Jesters' finally makes more sense now that the second jester enters the scene.  The crow is perched and attached to the first jester's shoulder. It's been built separately, adding the wings, feet and texture. He's also been hollowed out.  Notice the crow also has attitude and expression. And they've caught each other's eye. Jesters is about 70% complete now. Jesters stands at about 24" tall at this point, by the time it dries out and is fired it will shrink about 15%.  
Now, comes the nerve wracking part.  Here it is standing in the kiln - wrapped in damp towels to help keep it evenly moist until it will be ready to actually dry out. It needs to dry out evenly to avoid cracking; I then remove the towels, and allow it to dry out thoroughly before it actually gets fired.  This will take more than a week of waiting, including additional drying with the kiln open on a very low drying temperature. Once I'm confident that he's thoroughly dry - and one is never absolutely sure - I set the kiln to fire at 04, which is about 1900 ? F. If it's not totally dry, parts will blow off in the areas where there is moisture, or air is trapped. The kilns heats up, turns off, and then I wait for it to cool.  This takes about 24 hours.  I open it with prayers on my lips - hoping it comes out unscathed.  Jesters made it!!
So, the next step is to do the oxide stain over the surface of Jesters. This powder is mixed with water and gets brushed on the surface and wiped back to where it will just accentuate the lines and create a shaded affect in areas that would be difficult to color otherwise. It's fired a second time at this point - at just a slightly lower temperature than it was fired the first time.  And, it's definitely not a nerve-wracking fire - just patiently wait.  He's, now, 85% complete.
Once fired the second time, it's time for the color to be added.  This is done by layering Prismacolor colored pencil in a technique I call "scrumbling" over the surface, light layer upon light layer of different colors to help create a depth of color that could only be accomplished with this type of technique.  Even areas that may appear to be the fired clay surface, actually have colored pencil adding to the affect of the firing. Once the color has been established, my friend, glass artist, Susan Fox does her magic by lampworking the glass beads for me. They need to be correctly proportionate to Jesters size, match one another, and colored to match his hat.  They are perfect!! Attached - and he's 100% complete.
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Work In Progress