The cocked head of a Jack Russell has a hilarious almost bewitching affect on me. To the extent that I’ve entered it into google to see if perhaps others are similarly entranced. To my surprise and further amusement the yield returned to me by request was multitudinous.
The tilt of the head the angle and the way the ears sit up it just gets to me. I freaking love it!
We had a few Jack Russells growing up. I have magical memories of them all. One as a tiny pup tucked inside my dad’s jacket on the bike out in Skerries. They agreed with us Jack Russells. They understood the family ways and rolled right in giving as good as they got.
Podge was a stalwart. A bright spark too. Hearing the reports about a serial killer in Milwaukee on the news signalled it was time for his evening stroll. He’d start wagging and looking up excitedly for his lead as he did when we called walkies to him and who were we to refuse.
Most of all I loved the experience of coming home from school each day, getting off the number thirty at the entrance to Baymount Park and seeing him fly out the gate darting rapidly dart down to meet me his back leg out a fetching idiosyncrasy that only added to the delightful welcome.
This is my almost life size sculpture of a female torso in its finished pre fired state. I was feeling ambitious at the time and had the desire to work in a large scale. I worked from a model and from photographs. I found it satisfying physically to work on a piece this size. The sense of wrestling with the material and with the form which that was achieved was wholly engrossing.
The clay changed its substance over the course of the modelling. From a firm and moist state at the initial stages it gradually hardened into a firm leathery material through the drying process. I particularly enjoyed slapping the surface to create structure. The material was tough and allowed me to test it with vigour.
The piece took a couple of months to sculpt a relationship between me and the work an external embodiment of myself in which I could channel my experiences into. This too was deeply gratifying.
My lounging lady is a survivor. Due to there being trapped air inside the piece it was badly damaged during firing. It split into several pieces but I salvaged two main portions which I put back together and for glazing and final firing. Due to the fine nature of the piece the risk of damage in firing was highly possible.
I am glad I restored what I could of the figure. The crack through the middle has done little to diminish the overall result. The edges where the legs were blown away provide an interesting textural contrast to the smooth curves plus the final dimensions appeal visually to me more than did the original complete figure.
Perhaps it was fate as I was excessively attached to what I saw as my beautiful flawless creation.
My mother and and chick penguin in glazed ceramic.
The inspiration for this piece came from a photograph which I then made a drawing of. I was struck by the tenderness of the relationship between the pair. Making the drawing first helped me to get a sense of what I wanted to evoke in sculpting the birds.
The formation lended itself well to working in clay as the simple forms are free standing due to their being larger at the base and so also hollowed out easily. The glazing was experimental as I had really no idea what the colours I was using would turn out like. I was most surprised and pleased at how well the finished fired colours worked.
The chick with his head back under the mother’s beak is so touching. The innocence and trust of the young and the stoic determination of the mature adult female to protect and nurture her chick is absolute.
My chick is larger than I intended. He is more adolescent in size but he is a baby.
My seated figure lounging by the kitchen window. She looks well by the light.
This piece is more experimental than my other ceramic works. It is the product of two methods. I started out with by carving from without into a somewhat hardened lump of clay. The way stone sculptors work. Envisioning the piece inside the rock or marble and in my case lump of solid clay.
It was a fresh approach once again I found a new method that helped to distance myself from the end result and I was able to immerse myself fully in discovering what I could do and what the clay would allow me to do.
At a certain point I had to change tactic as the material was not firm enough to allow carving at the outer and finer parts e.g. the limbs. But the new method of working resulted in a totally different type of figure and form than I would have created by building in the conventional way.
The piece has a pleasing abstract quality to it an there is a good jagged muscularity to the pose.
There are a few things I’ve done that I am wholly satisfied with and this piece is one of them. This and a couple of other things I feel I wouldn’t do differently, and have no reservations about. I feel pride enough to think that no matter when in the future if they were dug up or discovered that me or whatever if anything exists of me at the date I’d still feel the same.
It is a nice feeling to have.
I made this about ten years ago. I was having a rough time and going to the the studio on the winter evenings helped to keep me going. I don’t recall my thoughts while I worked on it it was more a case of to just keep doing it, the action became the thinking if that makes any sense.
The project absorbed a great deal of the stress and anguish that I was in at the time. It went into the material through my hands and with work and the continuos showing up each week a form was made.
It was as if I was not doing the making but rather it was being made through me. An alchemical process. Matter transformed with mystery. I was hugely surprised with the finished result. I had definitely worked hard on it but not in the way I had previously understood.
This fella is an example of the traditional craft of hand built ceramics.
The body is a simple pot made using the coil technique. A very basic method for making pots or bowls in clay by hand. First I cut out a disc for the base. Next I rolled out numerous coils of clay in roughly the same length getting larger towards the bottom and shorter at the neck to create the shape. The coils are stacked roughly one above the other and secured together by cross hatching both sides of the join and using slip, a mixture of wet clay as a seal.
When all the coils had been added and sealed I smoothed the surface to hide the coils and made the decorative swirls also using the coil technique. I texturised the body with tiny holes before adding the decorative swirls. Cross hatching was again used to apply them to the body.
The head involved careful measuring to ensure it fit securely inside the neck opening. I built it by modelling a ball shape first and then moulded it into into a cat face all the while making sure that the neck would fit comfortably inside the opening at the top. I drew on the features and cut out the eyes when the clay was semi hardened. This is similar to making a pumpkin for halloween. Cat features were then added; puffy cheeks, heart- shaped nose and some lines drawn on for whiskers.
The body and head were fired in the kiln and then fired again once glazed.
I choose a distinctive blue and I think he wears it so well.