September 5, 2007

Fire, Lightning, Sparks

I was only able to work on tiles for an hour last night, after a busy day of running errands and shipping out in the heat. I settled in before dinner and sat in the kitchen and carved until 8pm. I worked on the Fire Goddess tile. I think I picked her because I wanted her to be really good. I did this same set of elements in pendants a while ago, and I feel like the fire one was the least successful in that set. I wanted to step it up for the tile. It's got a bit of a magical, electric thing going on too, which I like. Fire energy, fire magic sort of. I think she will serve well as a kiln goddess, actually. I probably need another hour with her to smooth things out and she is ready for plaster!

So thinking of fire, I have all these little sparks and flames of ideas dancing through my head lately. Last night as I made beads, I watched the first part of the Wizard of Oz, and was inspired for my new tiles. The vision I have for the main tile, which will be a portrait of Dorothy, is starting to become more clear, although I need to collect some images first. I think I will work on that this morning. Right now my vision is a little cluttered, so I might have to cut something. I am excited about it though.

I leave you with another hot summer song, full of electricity. Hot Hot Hot by the Cure:


  1. She is BEAUTIFUL! It is really nice to see your progression with these. I have been afraid to fully carve when I work because I worry that I may have to scrap it totally and start over. I tend to make the mold instead of starting with a finished piece to mold from. It can be a problem if I break that mold and need to create another. I usually don't have an original to cast another mold from. Living dangerously!

  2. Gaea, Thansk for the kind comment!

    I am not sure what you mean about being afraid to carve fully, and why you would have to scrap it? When do you make a mold then?

    These are unusual in that I started with a base. I usually start from scratch. Something new, you know?

    But yeah, I know what you mean about being afraid to break the mold. All of my tiles and some of my beads are made from molds where the original was destroyed in the process. So if the mold breaks, yep, I am out of luck. This time I am going to make a second mold of each with the first pressings, so I have a back up...

  3. I have the same problem. It takes me so long to sculpt things that I hate the idea of losing the work. So I tend to make waste molds half-way through, sort of like the ceramic version of hitting the "Save" button!

    You mentioned that this piece was pulled from the original tile mold. Is it greenware then? Do you tend just pour plaster on the greenware, when it comes time to make a mold? I've been firing mine (again, too afraid to lose the work!), then making a rubber master. I'd love to eliminate that step, since rubber is so darned expensive!

  4. Wow, a "save" mold...I never thought of that. Mold making is quite torturous for me, so I avoid it until I absolutely have to...

    No I only have molded tiles that are wet, or at worst leatherhard. These are getting pretty leathery at this point, so I am in a dance with time and moisture here. For example, the Fire one from last night is now wrapped in a damp paper towel to soften it back up again. I hope it doesn't get too wet and melt away some of my details. Living dangerously, as Gaea said. I guess it forces me into getting things done within a timeframe too, and keeping an immediacy that I couldn't have if I had forever to work on it...

    I am at a loss about molding dry/bisque/or hard items, at this size. I do use rubber moolds for beads but never tiles...

  5. Ah, that makes sense then! I was wondering how you were going to preserve the size relative to the original, since they would shrink a bit when you fired them. But you aren't firing them, so there isn't any shrinkage.

    I use a rubber master molds because I need multiple plaster molds for slipcasting. (Each mold is only good for one or two pours a day, and 15-20 pours total before it loses a lot of detail.)

    I should post a step-by-step on my own blog for the tile I am working on at the moment. It would probably make a lot more sense that way!

  6. Exactly, no firing, no shrinking. And I do want them to be all the same size, pretty much.

    So really, only 15-20 pours? Is slip that much more destructive? I have pressed hundreds of the same tile in a few of my molds, and they keep pretty sharp. But my designs are much less detailed than yours...different kind of thing, I guess. I would think that hammering grogged clay into a mold would wear it out more than pouring though...

    I would love to see a step by step from you! My moldmaking skills are pretty basic. They get me what I need, but I love to know about more complicated processes, just to know as much as I can, you know?

  7. Yes, part of the reason I get so few pours with each mold is the tiny detail. If I had bolder designs, they wouldn't show the wear so quickly. But the slip is more destructive to the plaster, at least in my experience. Even groggy clay doesn't seem to wear the molds like sucking in the water from the slip.

    I'll see if I can't get some photos today. My customers have been after me to show them some of the horse molds, so I'll probably post those, too. Those are really crazy - eight or nine pieces on a finished figure that's less than three inches high!

  8. Melanie

    These are amazing. Powerful. Beautiful.

    Great work! I'm looking forward to seeing the progression here.


  9. Lesli,
    Yeah I am really amazed by the slipcasting process. It is so different from the way I work.

    In college, an incredible artist named Susan Beiner was one of my teachers for a bit. She does slipcasting in her work, and really pushes the technique to make great art. I learned a very little and made a few molds then. Here is her work:

    I would love to see your molds. You should have seen mine...they were multi part, maybe 6 pieces at most, but they were terribly done and leaked all over the place!

  10. Margot,
    Thank you for the kind comments! I am really enjoying working on these!

  11. Thank you for the link! Those pieces were amazing. I assume she casts the pieces and then assembles the larger forms in greenware?

    I went ahead and put the first post about my own moldmaking process up on my blog. It's about making a waste mold. Next I'll post about how the casting from that mold will be used to make my final tile. I'll make the production molds from that - but I have to finish the (new) original first! :^)

  12. Lesli,
    Yeah she used to have a ton of molds and she would work the pieces together at leatherhard. Slip is so difficult to work with liek that, at least the little I did. She really has it down. Her pieces are really amazing.

    Thanks, I will check out your blog!