Many people ask if my sculptures are body casts but they are original sculptures. My torso, face and goddess designs begin with sculpting an original sculpture, taking care to get the surfaces as smooth as possible. After sculpting the figure, I make a plaster mold on the piece. Then I can recreate the form with new variations, building up strips of textured clay in the plaster slump mold. The strips of clay are textured using rubber or plaster texture molds, which I have made. Shapes and pattern that I see in Nature inspire me and things that I find while hiking or beach combing are likely to be used for texture molds. These textured layer elements are carefully arranged in the mold and gently worked together from the back to get all the layers to stick together. After drying enough to support the form, the new piece is tipped out of the mold. Upon de-molding the new torso I can add additional elements such as wings, lace or flour de lea, to the textured surface of the piece. The last few years I have been working with Celtic designs for texturing .The Celtic theme is a very popular with my patrons at the Renaissance Festivals. I am designing new Celtic patterns that will work well with my torso pieces.
The piece is trimmed and allowed to dry for a week before its first firing. After being fired to bisque temperature (1800 degrees F.) the clay is durable enough to be glazed or stained. It is fired a second time in a glaze firing which goes to (2300 degrees F.)
The clay is a high fire porcelain stoneware mix. A little stoneware is mixed in with the porcelain for stability since the porcelain cracks easily. The smooth white properties of the porcelain are crucial for the fine textures and high contrast that make my sculptures exciting.
The production methods in my studio include wheel throwing, slab building, and press molding. I purchase my clay in the moist ready to use form in 50lb boxes. Parts for a piece might be made with a potter’s wheel, extruder, slab roller and/or press molds that I have made for textures and forms.
I use an electric kiln for my bisque firing and a large walk-in gas kiln for the glaze firing. The gas firing gives me that beautiful blues and reds that my customers love so much.
I have been learning methods of producing larger scale sculptures in clay and the firing methods for them. In the future I plan to be continuing to combine this classical style of figurative work in clay with archetypal symbols and layering to create larger scale works.
I have had some of my most successful clay pieces cast in bronze which can be seen at bronzebypower.com.