Thursday, September 27, 2012

Carving and Paddles

In my last couple of shows, Artifice, Artifact, and Allegory and Merican-Tastic!, I have made use of ceramic shards/debris.  In addition to food items such as double-burgers, club sandwiches, and stacks of ceramic pancakes, I also have skull medallions, gears, bullets, and clay masks.  In Merican-Tastic! I decided to add some colorful balloon carcasses to contrast with the earth tones of my reduction-fired clay pieces.

Here are a few images of just the ceramic shards (intentionally set up/arranged for a publicity image for the show Artifice, Artifact, and Allegory)

This one is the image I actually used/disseminated for publicity for the show.

Here are a few images of just the debris from the actual show (I'll write a quick blurb in a future post about past shows).

And here is an image from the 'Teaser Show' for Merican-Tastic! with the addition of the dead balloons.

I love working with clay, but due to the amount of equipment/facilities you need to make it worth while, I don't get to work with clay nearly as often as I would like.  Back in 2010-2011, I had the opportunity to teach Sculpture, Jewelry, and 3-D design at Northwest Missouri State University (a link to the NWMSU art department website:  All of a sudden I had access to kilns again.  That's when I made all of these ceramic debris.  Good times......

I was surprised how long it took me to realize that the materials/techniques I was using to make my carved frames, could be used to make carved paddles for to make sheets of imprinted clay.  Literally wooden paddles with a carved design to whap/spank a raised design into the surface of wet clay.  Honestly, it was almost an embarrassingly long time before I made the connection.  But once I did.....

POW!  The paddles:

Of course the 'Team Player' paddle would get a crack in the handle.

Since whatever is carved on the paddle prints in reverse, the image has to be carved backwards (mostly noticeable on lettering).  Here is what the 'Burger' paddle looks like and what it looks like reversed (thanks Photoshop!)

and here are some examples what the images look like imprinted on the shards:

  Yea!! Team Player....

Some of my cityscape doodles turned into stone.

Two different images smacked onto the same sheet of clay

And this little skull-glyph (which is what I used to make the gold discs you see in the installation shots) has its own little wooden stamp.

Next time, we say 'Goodbye' to Merican-Tastic!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Don't Feel Tardy (Part II)

There are two things that are my least favorite to carve.  They are circles and letters.  Drawing Lesson has both of them.  My lack of enthusiasm for carving circles and letters might be why I carved Drawing Lesson last.  Then again, I could just be a slacker......

The Drawings:  I start by laying everything out in pencil and then go over the lines with a black marker.

Sometimes as the design unfolds I shift elements around or add new things.  The natural 'imperfections' in the wood contribute to the dialog as to how the composition unfolds.  In the images below, I decided to shift the word 'really'.

 Once I realized that I needed to shift the word 'really' I painted over the old marker lines so I wouldn't get confused as to which markered lines to carve (I try to take 'the thinking' out of carving so I am focused on just execution).

What the new positioning looks like after it has been carved out.

I clean the green paint out of the brush on to a sculpture that is going to need to be primed (Hey, why waste paint?)

 The Carving:  Here are some shots at different stages during carving with my trusty Dremel Tool.

The Fitting:  Once everything is carved I spray the for panels of the frame black and make sure everything fits properly around the canvas.

The Painting:  The final stage is painting the frame.  Spray painting the frames black beforehand gives the line work crisp visual distinction.

I even got desperate enough for some Titanium White Paint that I ripped a dried out tube of paint in half to squeeze out the absolute last little bit of gooey paint trapped in the bottom of the tube.

The Final Product: 

Stay tuned for the next installment when you go to Paddletown USA!