Friday, October 14, 2016

Group Exhibition at Koru Gallery Dunedin opens this weekend!

Laura and I both have work in the group exhibition at Koru Gallery that opens this weekend. Unfortunately I won't be able to be there, and it feels a bit weird not being able to help with hanging the show, but our good friends will take care of all that, and I am sure it will be an interesting and exciting exhibition.

Here are some quick images from the show that Rhonda took on her phone as the exhibition was going up (thanks Rhonda!).

The Exhibition looks like fun, do go and see it if you are in Dunedin over the next couple of weeks!

I'm back from hospital after shoulder surgery that I had on Monday of this week, and am doing quite well. Reasonably comfortable, but not much sleep to be had as yet. Most of the time reading, catching short snatches of sleep, and calculating when to take the next pill for pain relief. The Surgeon, Anaesthetist, and staff at Mercy hospital were lovely, thoughtful people, and I am very thankful to friends that got me to and from the hospital, to all who looked after me there and to ACC for funding the operation.

For those of you who like astronomy, I have put these photos up... the images may be of a new planet, but my surgeon slipped them into the paperwork that I was given to take home with me... Apparently, they are photos of the inside of my left shoulder, and were taken when he was floating around in there armed to the teeth with various sharp and pointy instruments! The main thing done was to cut my biceps tendon away from the shoulder joint, shorten it, then attach it with a special screw fitting to my arm bone (humerus). All going well, the bone should start to knit with the tendon after about 6 weeks, and should be strong enough carefully stage a return to serious potting in the New Year.

Typing is a little difficult at the moment, so that is all from me for now. Kind thoughts to you all, and I'll try to catch up with some of your blogs over the next few days.

Friday, October 7, 2016

How Owls Are Made!

A very good friend of ours asked if I could make 3 owls to replace some wooden ones that he acquired a few years ago. The wooden ones may have been made in Indonesia, and one had rotted away, and the others were starting to deteriorate. He loaned me the two surviving ones, and I set about seeing what I could do with clay. My aim was not to copy them, but to respond to them and make something felt "right" with earthenware clay.
An owl "egg"!
Well, this blog post is about how owls are made... 
As in the case of most things concerning birds and bees, these owls began with an egg! A deep bowl was thrown on the wheel and coils of clay added, then thrown some more and more coils added until a height of 13 or 14 inches (33 - 35.5 cm) was reached. The top was carefully collared in with the hands and fingers, and closed over. A wooden rib was used to smooth the top until a pleasing continuous curve was formed. Once completed the "egg" was just over 12.5 inches high (32 cm).

Keeping one of the wooden owls near by for reference, I began shaping the face of the owl, pushing areas in for the eyes, and forming where the beak would be. I mostly used my fingers for this task, but also found the wooden rib and a flexible rubber "kidney" helped a lot.

 I added slab "eyebrows" to the face of the owl.

and curved them around the sides.

I made a second wall behind the slab one to form the back of the "eyebrow". The second wall was built progressively out of pellets of clay.

The "eyebrows" were hollow inside, and I made small air holes through into the body of the owl to let out air and steam when the owl was fired. There is a large hole in the base of the owl to let steam out, and also to provide a point for the owl to be anchored when it is displayed outside.

The "eyebrows" were built progressively until only a small hole remained on top. This was filled with a small plug of clay, and the top smoothed with fingers and the rubber kidney.

The next job was making feet, eyes, and tail. The feet, and the eyes are hollow, and air holes lead through the back of the eyes into the body cavity, and there are holes under the feet.

 Details were added, most with wooden tools.

Stamps carved from clay and bisque fired were used to add feather details.

I made two further owls. Each started with a clay "egg", but I did vary the method of making the "eyebrows". Probably the fastest and most effective was to make the eyebrow solid from pellets of clay, then hollow them out from the top using a wire loop tool.

The owl on the left of the photo was the last one made. I turned the "egg" upside down after making it on the wheel, and used the "foot" of the "egg" to make the head of the owl. This gave the owl a better body shape than the larger owl with centre of mass somewhat lower.

So there you have it, a little introduction as to how owls are made!

 Coming up Soon!