I have been so much happier working with clay rather than the softer materials such as wool, felt and threads. It has come extremely naturally to me and I feel much more joy and achievement after making something. Something I spoke with Amelia about is whether I should be using techniques that I like, or what the audience wants? But I could not continue working in a way that didn’t agree with me.
When I began working with the clay, I decided I wanted to work with the same designs of the cancerous cells under the microscope I had originally chosen to use when using wool. I spent a good 3-4 days working on my first piece and I am happy with the outcome. I produced it at a manageable size; for me this is being able to hold it comfortably within both hands, but probably not one. I don’t want my objects to be too heavy, so to avoid this I asked Gemma down in ceramics how I could make my piece without have to form the main body entirely out of clay, and if there was a way I could possibly make it hollow. Thankfully there was a pretty simple way around this: get together some newspaper and crunch it up into the shape of my desired piece, and then shape the clay around it. Something I had to be sure to remember is to make sure I puncture holes either side of the piece so that it doesn’t combust when in the kiln! It didn’t take me too long to make the main body, so I quickly began to smooth it down and get rid of any lumps and bumps (these didn’t appeal to me). I think sticking to the natural form of a material can be rather effective, but in my case I think smoothing down the surfaces will help me to create the effect of cells. After I was happy with the main shape, I had to figure out how to make the funny little things that stick out the side. I made a few different types and tried to figure out which one would suit me best, eventually I figured it out and I was well on my way to finishing what I started. I rolled out small pieces of clay and then use the flat end of a pencil to push into the middle in order to make what looks like a tiny bowl, probably big enough for something like a hamster. (Maybe this should be my career?) Once they were made, I would have to make sure to score the back of the detailed pieces and also the section of the main body, which I would attach it too. Add a little water, then press on and smooth over. Now repeat 100x over. (Yes, this was tedious)
When it came to finishing the piece I grew increasingly anxious about the firing process, just because it was all new to make and I spent so many hours creating this piece (that I eventually grew to love and feared the loss of it in the kiln). But alas no, everything was successful. I popped it down on the Friday afternoon in order to get it Bisque fired on the Monday morning. In the kiln the newspaper in the center of my piece combusted and turned to dust, which I could conveniently pour out of the holes I had punctured in either side.
Once this process was over I needed to begin to think about what other objects to create next and how I wished to colour them. Glazing became extremely appealing to me, so I decided to see if I could get a group of people together who may be interested in joining me.
Here is my first clay object during the process and before firing:
And here it is after the firing process: