Working with clay is always a joy and delight in my life……..perhaps I didn’t make enough mud pies when I was small. After working on paintings and prints in two dimensions for a while, it is a very welcome change to play in three dimensions again.
To be able to create a bust or figure from an inanimate block of clay is always an adventure with many problems to solve along the way. Apart from the aesthetic desire to make a visually interesting sculpture that has its own presence, there are the practical aspects of working with clay to consider. Which type of clay will work best for the subject? Will it support its own weight? How can I keep the head, arm, leg, etc. in the right position as it dries? Are the proportions close enough? Is it about the same thickness throughout so that it will survive in the kiln? Is the surface finished enough for the final patina?………Finally, gently coaxing it through the drying and firing process to see it emerge from the kiln in one piece is always a big relief!
Then there are the decisions about how to finish the surface. I prefer to use a patina rather than a glaze. For that reason I fire the pieces to bisque so that the surface of the clay will not be too hard and still somewhat receptive to the applied patina. I am still experimenting with a variety of different surface treatments for my fired clay pieces. I regularly use shellac, stippled oil paint, acrylic paint, floor wax, powdered graphite, beeswax and some commercial paints and patinas.