Commissions can break routine and bring the unexpected into the studio. Recently a young man asked me if I could make him an Angel as a gift for a special friend. This made quite a change from coffee mugs and bowls. It did take me a while to make a start on the commission, and when I finally did pick up some clay and start to explore the form of an angel, it became a process that was so interesting that I made four of them!
The angels are hollow and are between 6 and 8 inches high (150 - 200mm). All were made in much the same way. I began by rolling out a small slab of clay, then forming it into a cone shape, with a wide base and narrow top. After some basic shaping of this, I added shoulders and the head out of a separate lumps of clay, then added wings, arms and hands.
Some of my angels became male and others female. I did not get too preoccupied with anatomy or theology, but wanted to rely more on my feeling of what was right. I also wanted some of the "clayiness" of clay to be part of the work and not too disguised.
All the angels have got through their drying and bisque firing OK, so now I have the job of glazing them still to do. I enjoyed making the angels, the process took me back to my childhood, where I spent many hours making things out of plasticine.
Although the faces are very small, much smaller than this photograph, each one has its own unique character.
My title for this post, "An Angel At My Table", was borrowed from Janet Frame, a New Zealand author, who wrote a series of auto-biographies, "To the Is-land", "An Angel at My Table", and "The Envoy From Mirror City". You might enjoy reading some of her poems and novels. Some people find them a bit strange or hard to read, but I have loved the ones that I have read. Here is a link to the Wiki entry about Janet Frame. Some years ago there was a film called "An Angel At My Table" that was made about her life. Some of it was filmed very close to where we live in the South Island of New Zealand.
|There we are at the Craft Show, photo by Rhonda|
We recently took part in a three day craft fair at the local hall. I demonstrated on the wheel for two of the days, and Bill Blair, a maker of trug baskets from Kakanui near Oamaru, bravely toiled away at his trug making for most of the three days. Bill does lovely work, and also makes wooden rakes and forks. You can visit his web site here coppicecrafts.co.nz.
When I have demonstrated at other craft shows I have usually made small things, often little bowls thrown from a hump of clay. This time I decided to make something big, so I set to work making three large pots by the coil and throw method.
|Hum...., nuff said! Photo by Rhonda.|
Sadly very few people attended the show, but some of the other stall holders became quite interested in the gradual progress of the pots that I was working on. Near the end of the show, stall holders were starting to show some concern...., "How are you going to get it home?" being a common question. I finished one pot, 27 inches high (690mm), and left the other two incomplete. Some people seemed genuinely distressed when I said that I probably couldn't get the large pot home as it would most likely collapse whilst taking it out to the car, and even if I got it into the car... well, it would certainly collapse when driving off down the hill! To make things even more hazardous, the rain poured down on the final day of the show.
Because people were worrying so much about the fate of the big pot, I made a special effort to get it home. I first fitted the lower part of it into a metal bucket to protect the lower part of the pot, and to give it more stability.
Much to my amazement, protected by the bucket, the pot reached the car in one piece, and it fitted in the back..., just! There was no more than 1/8th of an inch (1mm) clearance between the roof of the car and the pot when I slid it through the back door of the car.
With Laura sitting next to the pot, and steadying it, and me driving very carefully, the pot made the journey to my studio, and I was able to put it on the wheel and correct a small wobble that developed in the top of the pot where it had made gentle contact with the car roof. The following day I put a coat of white slip on the pot, and it is now slowly drying.
I had better end this post on a colourful note (most of the photos on this post have been of grey clay drying!).
This is a splendid painting that Laura did recently, and she sold it before it got out of the studio.
The cat was almost life size and was painted in artist's acrylics on MDF board (high density compressed wood fibre board). The white background is not part of the painting, but is the wall behind it. The cat was cut out with a fretsaw.
Sorry that blog posts dried up for a while, hopefully I will get back into the swing of writing them again!
Kind thoughts to you all, P.