Before work begins, I clean my studio and work environment. Safety comes first when working with clay, chemicals, tools, and open fire.
With most sculpture, I start with a ball of clay to create the head. I form an oval shape to develop eyes, nose, and lips. As the face takes form a personality appears.
This leads to the development of a body. After the head and body is attached, I position the piece with a slight twist or turn as this often suggest a particular expression or body language. After this point, I am keenly focused on charisma and facial expression.
After the sculpture is complete, it slow dries for days before I bisque fire it. Bisque firing turns the clay into ceramic as it reach to 1100 - 1600 degrees Fahrenheit. This step occurs in an electric kiln.
I formulate my own low fire raku glazes using copper, iron, borax. These are some of the main ingredients. Others ingredients are used for special colors and effects. My glazes are brushed on in certain areas and allowed to dry for a day. Areas not glazed will become charcoal black after the second firing.
The Raku Firing
The second firing is a fast firing technique known as Raku and performed in a raku kiln powered by propane. This firing unlike the bisque firing reheats the piece to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The sculpture is removed immediately from the raku kiln with long iron tongs . It is transferred to a galvanized trash container filled with wood chips and paper.
The sculpture ignites the container and produces a rapid fire and lots of smoke. After a minute or so while the fire streaks across random areas of the piece and interacts with the molten glaze, a lid is placed snuggly on the container to prevent oxygen from entering. The lack of oxygen, fire and smoke creates unpredictable metallic and matte colors the on work.