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Art

Surreal Sculptures of Translucent Glass and Clay Explore the Body's Transformative Processes

December 8, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Mother and Child” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paints, 18 x 27 x 7 inches. All images © Christina Bothwell, shared with permission

“I have always viewed the body as a transitory object,” writes artist Christina Bothwell. From human-animal hybrids to pregnant creatures to figures fused together, Bothwell’s oeuvre suspends various life forms in states of flux: a baby precariously rests on a mother’s back, a young girl grasps onto another’s legs, and others peer into the distance as if they’re about to move forward.

The artist’s subject matter is rooted in the ethereal and embodies the delicate ways spirits and physical figures change over time. Her process, however, mirrors that focus on transformation. From her studio in rural Pennsylvania, Bothwell begins each multi-media piece with a sketch before translating the head into a clay form. To create the weathered appearance, she utilizes pit firing, which involves covering the sculpture with hay or leaves and burning them. The smoke from the fire leaves behind a carbon residue on the clay.

When working with glass, Bothwell sculpts warm beeswax that she uses to cast a plaster-and-silica mold. She then fills the empty shape with chunks of colored glass, which are placed in a kiln for annealing, cooled in cold water, and finally sanded and chiseled down. Hand-painted details adorn the sculpture’s exterior, along with found objects like antique prosthetic eyes, deer antlers, and ball feet.

 

“Soul Sentinel” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique wood doll puppet hands, 21 inches

The result of this months-long technique is a surreal collection that merges the organic forms and processes of nature with uncanny details. Each lusterless piece explores the relationship between the alluring oddities of the exterior and the translucent insides, which Bothwell explains:

Changing the body is merely adjusting the outer wrapping, as far as I can see… I am intrigued with the spirit world, and I imagine that we pass in and out of it, into the physical realm with bodies, then out of it at the end of life into lighter, energy bodies… And along the way throughout our lives, we transform ourselves constantly, reinventing who we are on a daily basis.

Bothwell will be featured in an upcoming episode of PBS’s Craft in America airing on December 11. Until then, follow her unearthly projects on Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

“Octopus Girl,” cast glass and ceramic, 33 inches

“Pink Monkey” (2020), cast glass and ceramic, 15 inches

“Butterfly Poodle” (2015-2019), cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and antique claw ball feet

Left: “Strawberry Gardens” (2020), cast glass, ceramic, and oil paint, 22 inches

Top right: “Deer Bunny,” cast glass, ceramic, oil paint, and deer antlers, 27 inches. Bottom left: “My Second Self” (2013), cast glass, ceramic, and found objects (antique doll hands). Bottom right: “Mermaid” (2009), cast glass and antique prosthetic glass eye

“Such Reveries” (2017), cast glass, ceramic, and antique claw ball feet, 22 inches

 

 



Art Craft

Biologically Accurate Sculptures of Animals by Fanni Sandor Are Smaller Than a Fingernail

July 20, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Fanni Sandor, shared with permission

Fanni Sandor has been fascinated by miniatures since childhood, constructing her first sculpture from toothpicks, candle wax, paper, and glue at six years old. “In my country, there (are) no traditions of the 1:12 scale miniature making. In my twenties, I met the first professional miniaturist’s work through the internet. I was completely fascinated,” she tells Colossal.

Today, the Hungary-based biologist and artist fashions minuscule baby bluejays clamoring for food, a mouse peeking out from a bit of bread, and a waddling family of mallards. Inspired by her background in biology, the miniatures feature incredibly accurate details, and most fit easily on the tip of a finger.

Sandor will spend anywhere from two days to two weeks on a single piece, noting that the robin’s nest alone took three days. Her process is multifaceted and begins with collecting photographs of the species before sketching a prototype. Forgoing molds, the artist employs embossing and pin-ending tools to sculpt the animal figures from polymer clay and wire. After baking, she chisels a few more details, paints, and attaches the fur and feathers where necessary.

In 2016, Sandor become a fellow at The International Guild of Miniature Artisans. To follow her upcoming projects, head to Instagram.

 

 

 



Design

Inexpensive Toys Fashioned into Unique Action Figures by Artist Tomohiro Yasui

March 8, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Tomohiro Yasui

Tomohiro Yasui is best known as the creator of the paper robot wrestlers called kami-robo, but that’s not the only medium his imagination has conquered. Using wire and cheap rubber duckies, squirting frogs, and plastic hammers, the Japanese artist builds posable action figures that deserve their own Saturday morning cartoons and comic books.

Having spent the past 35 years designing paper robots and plastic toys, Yasui is an expert when it comes to humanoid anatomy in dynamic poses. Multiples of the same donor toys were used to create the chiseled physiques, which means that all of the pieces match in texture and color and did not have to be repainted. If the fantasy figures were packaged and displayed on a shelf in the toy section, no one would be able to guess that they were cut, reconfigured, and assembled by hand.

To see more of these unlikely heroes come to life, follow Yasui on Twitter.

 

 



Art

Ceramic Head Sculptures by En Iwamura Explore Philosophies of Movement and Space

December 29, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © En Iwamura

Japanese artist En Iwamura creates large ceramic sculptures of heads with minimalist facial features. Holes and slits reference eyes and mouths on the oddly-shaped forms, while uniform grooves traverse the clay surfaces in complex patterns. With site-responsive installations, the artist introduces viewers to the Japanese philosophy of Ma⁠—the relationship between viewers, objects, and negative space⁠—and gives them the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

Born in Kyoto to artist parents, Iwamura studied at Kanazawa College of Craft and Art where he earned MFA and BFA in Crafts/Ceramics. In 2013, he traveled to the United States to study at Clemson University and was later invited to give artist talks and lead workshops in New Hampshire and Montana. Through lectures, his artistic practice, and exhibitions with New York-based Ross + Kramer Gallery, Iwamura has explored ways of altering audience experiences while introducing them to the uniquely Japanese concept of Ma. “People constantly read and measure different Ma between themselves,” the artist said in a statement, “and finding the proper or comfortable Ma between people or places can provide a specific relationship at a given moment.”

Watch a video of Iwamura’s texturing technique here and follow the artist on Instagram to see more expressive characters in various stages of the creation process.

 

 



Craft

Clay Shapes Bound to Fabric Create Multi-Layered Embroidered Works by Justyna Wolodkiewicz

December 18, 2019

Grace Ebert

All images © Justyna Wolodkiewicz, shared with permission

Using small polymer clay shapes, Justyna Wołodkiewicz (previously) creates embroidered works that extend beyond the fabric within the hoop. The Poland-based artist molds clay into tiny colorful pieces that she punctures with holes, positions at various angles, and binds with multi-colored thread. “What you see in my embroideries is highly filtered visual and sonic information'” Wolodkiewicz tells Colossal. “It travels through my eyes, brain, and hands, landing in the physical world again, this time in the shape of my hand-stitched pieces.”

The artist’s choice of color, composition, and texture are crucial components in her “micro-worlds” because “they convey a strong emotional message innate to human beings. They suggest very complicated nets of relationships. The upward stitches symbolize the way people are bonded with all that surrounds them,” she says.

Many of Wolodkiewicz’s three-dimensional creations are available for purchase, and you can stay connected with the artist on Instagram.

 

 



Art

Human Anatomy and Oozing Black Glazes Cover Ceramics by Canopic Studio

October 13, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images courtesy of Canopic Studio

Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Curran Wedner of Canopic Studio creates sculptures and tableware inspired by nature and the human body. Disembodied fingers, toes, and faces wrap around the outside of glazed porcelain cups and bowls to form unique and functional works of art.

After studying Illustration at ArtCenter College of Design in California, Wedner spent nine years fabricating art for other artists. He opened Canopic Studio in 2017 and decided to focus on ceramics as his full-time practice. “Clay has always been a friendly medium to me since I have worked with it my whole life,”the artist tells Colossal. Detailing his process, Wedner says that each sculpture begins with throwing and trimming on a wheel. He then makes castings and applies them to the leather-hard clay before bisque firing the work. Each sculpture is then glazed and fired a second time. “From start to finish this process takes weeks,” the artist says. “Each individual piece has at least a dozen hours in it before it’s up for sale.”

Wedner credits his drawing and painting experience for informing his sculptural compositions and his focus on human anatomy. He also cites life cycles in nature and ancient history as influences, namely the bog bodies of northwest Europe and Bell-Beaker culture.

Wedner’s unusual creations will be exhibited for the first time as a part of the upcoming Blood & Fire II show at The Raven & The Wolves gallery in Long Beach, CA. Those hoping to take home one of the pieces should check out the Canopic Studio Etsy shop and fans of ceramics can follow @canopicstudio on Instagram.