Learning about clay…and decapitation 3/9/2018

I’ve only been working with clay for about two and a half years, taking various classes and workshops. Initially, I learned to sculpt the figure in a very small format, building the clay around a steel rod armature wrapped in newsprint. I learned a lot with this technique, but found the size was limiting me in my desire to explore other ways of creating the figure…I wanted to go big.

A few workshops later and I was building a hollow figure, from the bottom up, using flat coils and having no limitations of an armature. I was also learning about the moisture content of clay and how tall I could build.


Using a heat gun to stiffen up the clay at base of the figure, I began to work on the neck and head. Then I started adding big clumps of clay that were formed into hair. Wait! Is that chin lower than it was 5 minutes ago? I quickly made a big clay ball as a support and shoved it between the head and body, and held my breath. Finding this to be a good stopping point, I snapped a few shots of the day’s work with my cell phone. As the phone went in my back pocket, I saw the head fall….and in what seemed like slow motion, I caught the damn thing before it hit the floor. Pretty words came out of my mouth.

The story ends well. I learned how to score, slip, and coil the repair, and the new head/face turned out much better than the old. My journey with clay is still in it’s infancy and I know there will be more near disasters down the road, but I have to say…regardless of the capriciousness of clay, I am hooked in the mouth like a brook.