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Clay Sculpture

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


After truly a long break, here is a new tchotchke - a fridge magnet again. This is Prometheus, it says so on top in english, on the bottom in russian. I don't have access to the digital camera anymore, so the pic does not do justice to the piece: it's out of focus, the colors are dull, and even photoshopping didn't help much. Vaguely inspired by Picasso. I was meaning to do "Prometheus bound" as well, if I ever get around to it.
kovrov got it for his Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004


It's been a while since I posted. I'm not doing much lately.

This is a panther with a raised foreleg, a symbol of the city of Pskov. Found on many archeological items - coins, jewelry etc.

This was done by printing. I've drawn a picture on a flat piece of clay, then baked it and pressed it into a new, soft piece of clay, which gave an inverse image. After baking the print, I've painted it over with a bronze paint and treated with the oxidizer, for the "vintage" look.
I guess I could make as many identical prints as I want to (or at least until the cast breaks). A better idea yet is to make a bunch of identical prints and then alter them, or add some details while they are still soft. This way, I could mass-produce items which are alike, but still unique.
Maybe one of these days...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Some time ago I did a sketch of an african statue. The book with the original photo had to return to the library, but this is a reasonably faithful rendering.
So I had an idea of making this figurine around a bottle, so that I could unscrew the head and have a container inside. The necklace/pendant around the neck was to conceal the joint between the head and the body to make it look like a single piece. It could be a storage/hiding place.
I made a light green cane with a dark green seven-pointed leaf, after whatever I were most likely to store there. It was to cover the body.
I found a peppercorn bottle ~4 in. tall. The figure came out ~5½ in. The hands and feet are made around a strand of twisted wire. I did it in two bakings: layer of white clay first and then the sliced green cane layer.
It is still missing the face and the necklace. Unfortunately, at this stage it fell off some height and developed a crack in the skull, and one of the feet broke, too. The foot did not come off, it is holding by the wire. Here is the figure as it presently looks, pics taken with a crappy pen cam:

Instead of trying to repair and finish it, I left it and started a second one. There I made an engineering miscalculation (wrong container), and it fell apart.
Finally, I made a small version of this figure (~2 in.) that did not have a container inside. It was a solid piece around a foil skeleton. I gave it away before I took pictures, which is for the better, because it was an ugly bright pink color (the only one I had at the moment).

Thursday, July 15, 2004


Inspired by an Easter Island carving of a whale. However, the easter island whale was made out of a very porous lava rock, a very unique-looking material. This thing came out looking nothing like it, especially with the bronse paint. The feel is more like a chinese fish sculpture.

Saturday, June 12, 2004


I've had a pretty busy quarter, so I haven't touched clay for two months at all. Now that I'm going to Moscow, I figured I'll make some stuff for my friends - beats T-shirts with eagle and Old Glory, that's for sure. So, here goes:

Very happy about this one. I am always ambivalent about the colors. The african masks in the books are all dark brown or golden brown or black, and I like those colors a lot, but I almost run out of them, and I wanted some variety. So, this thing is light purple - yeah! It's maybe 1.5 inches long.
A few moreCollapse )

Friday, April 23, 2004


These two are copies of an authentic african figurine, a hunting fetish from Zaire. The first one has a nice color close to the original wood color - I believe it was a 1:1 mix of brown and golden red (with sparkles). However, it came out kinda clumsy, so I made another one, which wasn't as close to the original. I used two "granite-colored" clay blocks. They do not realy look like stone, but still the color is nice. The face is done off of another mask. I am planning to glaze it. The pictures of the second one came out a bit dark - perhaps I will redo them later.
I am getting more and more elaborate with the foil skeletons. When I just started to use foil, I just stuck a small crumpled ball in the middle, hoping that it would save me some clay. Now, these are ~90% foil with a thin layer of clay on top. It does save a lot of clay, I can do more elaborate stuff and they bake well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

11:16PM - oxfv - the mighty mighty original and the pale copy.

The head vegetation is fine steel wool, #0000. I think I got a piece of it stuck in my finger.

oxfv, gimme your address, I'll mail it to you!

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Here's a new thingie. I started out meaning to make a found-object kinda sculpture, incorporating coins and keys and things. Then I had the idea to use the blue-and-yellow checkered cane for the skin. As I started making it, the keys proved to be difficult to include, because they were too heavy, tipping the foil skeleton, so I nixed the idea and ended up with something that was completely different from the original intent.
It was meant to be a dragon, but now I guess it's a salamander.
It's pretty damn large; the largest piece I've done so far. There's a quarter next to it in the other three pictures. I was surprized at how liitle trouble it gave me. It took about two and a half hours to comlpete, discounting the cane-making, which I did last week, and the baking. The longest and most tedious part of work was covering it with the cane slices.
I am not particularly happy with it. Besides being large and difficult-looking, it doesn't have a lot going for it. It looks kinda like my son's plastic toys.

Three more pics under the cutCollapse )

Sunday, March 21, 2004


Particularly instructive and well reported is the instance of bear cult of the Ainu of Japan, a Caucasoid race that entered and settled Japan centuries earlier than the Mongoloid Japanese, and are confined today to the northern islands, Hokkaido and Sakhalin -- the latter now, of course, in Russian hands. These curious people have the sensible idea that this world is more attractive than the next, and that godly beings residing in that other, consequently, are inclined to come pay us visits. They arrive in the shapes of animals, but, once they have donned their animal uniforms, are unable to remove them. They therefore cannot return home without human help. And so the Ainu do help -- by killing them, removing and eating the uniforms, and ceremonially bidding the release visitors bon voyage.[...]
There is a legend of the Ainu of Kushiro (on the southeastern coast of Hokkaido) which purports to explain the high reverence in which the bear is held. It tells of a young wife who used to go every day with her baby to the mountains to search for lily roots and other edibles; and when she had gathered her fill, she would go to a stream to wash her roots, removing the baby from her back and leaving it wrapped in her clothes on the bank, while she went naked into the water. One day thus in the stream she began to sing a beautiful song, and when she had waded to shore, still singing, commenced dancing to its tune, altogether enchanted by her own dance and song and unaware of her surroundings, until, suddenly, she heard a frightening sound, and when she looked, there was the bear-god coming. Terrified, she ran off, just as she was. And when the bear-god saw the abandoned child by the stream, he thought: I came, attracted by that beautiful song, stepping quietly, not to be heard. But alas! Her music was so beautiful it moved me to rapture and inadvertently I made a noise.
The infant having begun to cry, the bear-god put his tongue into its mouth to nourish and to quiet it, and for a number of days, tenderly nursing it this way, never leaving its side, contrived to keep it alive. When, however, a band of hunters from the village approached, the bear took off, and the villagers, coming upon the abandoned child alive, understood that the bear had cared for it, and, marveling, said to one another, "He took care of this lost baby. The bear is good. He is a worthy deity, and surely deserving of our worship." So they pursued and shot him, brought him back to their village, held a bear festival, and, offering good food and wine to his soul, as well as loading it with fetishes, sent him homeward on his way in wealth and joy.

Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell

On the photo the child came out too bright to see the details. However, it's a complete infant, with, like, face and all that. Special thanks to HotGiraffe for the electronic copy of Campbell's book, so that I didn't have to retype the whole thing myself.

Also, a maskCollapse )

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


Another fridge magnet on the left, a voodoo doll on the right. The inspiration for the guy was an egyptian relief photo from National Geographic, and also the modern icons that I came across a while ago. I think I spent around four hours on it, maybe more.

The doll was mostly done out of scarp clay pieces of greeenish brown and puke yellow that were too ugly to use elsewhere. I even meant to have a couple of pins driven through its heart, but then decided against that. Inspired by Gorey and Roman Dirge. I held it by the head while making the "needle and thread" marks, and the neck cracked.
Surprisingly, my wife thinks it's cute.

Of the things I make, the more detailed pieces seem to look worse in the pictures, and the cruder ones look better. These two are the case in point. The sun guy is actually a lot nicer than you may think from the picture.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

10:00PM - Piggybank

My first experiment with millefiori technique ended with a disaster. This is the second attempt - a piggybank for my son.

Apparently, the layers are too thin - they started to crack as the thingie was cooling down. The crack is visible in the first photo, closer to the bottom.

I got a little too carried away as I was making it, so I forgot to measure the coin slot; only after baking it I discovered it was too small even for a dime. Now I am afraid it might crumble if I will try to widen it.

UPDATE: I covered it with glase to stop the cracking, which seemed to help.

Two more picsCollapse )

9:59PM - Some samples of the stuff I make.

These are the postings in my journal, the text and comments are in Russian. Maybe later I will cross-post some of my favorite pics here, with my comments.