May 3, 2015

A Pit Fired Toad Rattle

Years of perusing museums and books of antiquities have had their influence. Without looking at any particular piece of art, I spent a day carving clay additions on a hollow rattle, with the results being something that reminded me of some of the Han bronzes I had been so attracted to. I did have in mind, at least from the outset, a magic three legged good luck toad from Chinese myth. The toad-like shape came through in this sculpture but with the requisite four limbs instead of only three. I suppose this means he is not as lucky - at least for the one who owns him.

The pit fire in which this sculpture was smoked after the bisque created an almost patina like finish to the ceramic, helped along by the natural mica or feldspar in the clay. The clay was from the lot that was mined locally in the Santee area of South Carolina.

The details on this sculpture were painstakingly carved out of a thick clay body, Native American style. I decided to articulate the details this way because the sudden shift to high temperatures in the pit kiln can break clay attachments added to a piece. The carving took most of a day, as did the sanding, wet ragging and burnishing. I put no glaze or terra sigillata on this piece. The color was made with fire and smoke upon the natural clay body. I have been experimenting of late with color using just the naturally occurring variations in found clay. Thus far I have been getting a fairly large range from buff to black, but mostly yellow to red ochres.

No comments: