Saturday, October 26, 2013

Searching for Atlantis

Waiting on the first glaze firing.
Making my sculpted sea pieces is a fairly long process. Searching for Atlantis is a rather tall "bowl" of's not functional, definitely decorative.

I start by rolling out the clay, then tearing it into strips. Usually I shoot for a triangular shape if I'm making a bowl shape.

Each of the "flukes" (not sure that's an accurate term, but it's what I call them) is torn, textured, then rolled to form the funnel.

The "bubbles" are each individually hand-formed. Sometimes they take forever! Good music playing in the background makes the time zip by...

I usually use a form to semi-hold the bottom shape as I begin. Sometimes I just use clay to prop the pieces up for a bit. After I've been working for a while the clay holds up by itself to some degree.

I have gotten ahead of myself before and had the piece collapse! Not fun.

Atop the kiln, after first glaze firing.
The inside of my creations is just as important at the exterior. Even if I'm not making a sculpted piece I try to make sure the inside is interesting.

With these sea pieces the interior is often more important than the exterior. I want the eye to travel into the piece. I want to mimic the idea of looking down into the sea. Thus I leave spaces where you can look into the bowl from the sides.

When I've finished forming the bowl I start placing my bubbles. Again my goal is to leave the viewer thinking about the ocean, the sea. The bubbles need to float upward. It's not possible (without using wire or other mechanisms) to have the bubbles truly float, so I attach them on the sides of the walls in various positions, hopefully giving the idea of motion.

Side view after first glaze firing.
I want the piece to undulate like the water is moving it, hence the wavy motion of the flukes & sides. Sometimes I'll add extruded strings to further give the impression of movement.

After I complete the piece I let it dry for a week or so. Then it is bisque fired. The bisque firing takes roughly 12 hours. The kiln then has to sit for about three times that long to cool. I'm sometimes a bit impatient and can't wait... that doesn't matter much with the bisque firing as long as I don't open too soon. Open a glaze load too fast and the cold air can crack the glaze or even crack the entire pot.

After I finally unload the kiln, I rinse the bisque fired pieces, let them dry thoroughly, then begin the glaze firing process.

I glaze fire each of my sea pieces multiple times.

Searching for Atlantis has at least 10 - 12 shades of layered blues, greens, turquoise glazes. I fired the piece, then did it all again adding some glass on the second go-around, popping certain colors that I wanted to be predominate. As you can see in the various stages, the red color of the clay shines through. I wasn't quite satisfied so I did it again.

Below is the finished piece. You can still see some of the clay tones but the turquoise tones and the glass are stronger. The interior has even more glass to give the appearance of water.

I named the piece Searching for Atlantis as it something that people have dreamed about, believed in (or not), searched for and sung about. It's a place of mystery and, if legends are true, beauty. I truly hope you'll think that Searching for Atlantis is worthy of the name.

Though Gods they were
And as the elders of our time
   choose to remain blind
Let us rejoice and let us sing
And dance and ring in the new
Hail Atlantis
Way down below the ocean
where I wanna be, she may be
- Atlantis Lyrics, Donovan

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