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Hollowing out sculpture piece


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#1 Pugaboo

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:21 PM

I just finished sculpting the outside of my little Pug Figurine and now need to figure out how to hollow out the inside in spots to even up the wall thickness. I made the head and torso as pinch pots and then cut a circle out of each and scored then slipped them. After the 2 pieces were joined I started adding coiled pieces to build up the neck, shoulders, legs, face, tail etc. doing that I know I have made certain parts of the form much thicker than others. I don't want the piece to crack in drying or firing so I need to remove some of the extra clay from the inside out. The question is how to do that. When do I hollow out the inside? should I let the clay on the outside get to the leather hard stage or should I do it right away? If right away how do I prevent distorting the figure while I carve away the inside? I think my options are; (and correct me or guide me here please)

First choice to hollow out the inside would be to cut open the bottom and try to work up into the interior from there, just not sure if I can reach all the way into the neck area easily.

2nd choice would be to pick a spot halfway between the back of the head and the tail and using a wire slice through the piece, this would leave the front more detailed areas intact and give nice access to all the parts that need to be hollowed out thinner. The only problem with this manner is I have to figure out how to join the 2 pieces back together seamlessly.

So which is my best option or is there another way to do this? Oh and I used little loafers clay which I plan to use underglazes to decorate and then bisque fire to 04 and then clear glaze applied and a final glaze firing to cone 6. I have attached a couple photos so you can see the shape and style of the figure in case that will help.

Again thank you for your time and input.
Terry

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The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#2 bciskepottery

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 05:36 PM

If the piece is already hollow, and there is not a great difference in the thickness of coils and pinch pot walls, just let it dry slowly and thoroughly. You should have a small hole in the bottom to allow air to escape as the piece shrinks (using your potter's needle tool will suffice). Monitor the piece as it dries and try to keep the moisture even . . . even if it means spritzing an area that is drying too fast. Keeping it under plastic for a day or two to even out the moisture, then allowing it out from underneath the plastic a couple hours each day to dry slowly should do the trick. And, because it is an enclosed form, it may feel dry but still have moisture on the inside; so, when you think it is ready to fire, give it some more time.

#3 Idaho Potter

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 07:10 PM

When handbuilding there is the tendency for walls to become uneven--especially where you join one part to another. I've found it best to keep it loosely covered sometimes for several weeks (depending on all-over size). This way keeps the drying fairly even so you're less likely to have cracks develop. Definitely poke at least one hole in the bottom, or find a fold (ears, mouth, wrinkle) and use your needle to allow air to circulate out of the sculpture.

Once it looks dry, unwrap it, place it on something to let air circulate around the base and when you think its ready to fire--make sure you candle sculptures overnight or at least 6 to 8 hours before the actual bisque firing takes place. It may seem excessive, but the disappointment if all that work comes to naught is hard to contemplate.

Pugaboo, on some of your other posts, you say you're going to use underglaze for color. Have you ever used an airbrush? For the subtle gradations of color on the Pug, I think an airbrush would be just the thing. Underglazes work really well with an airbrush. If you've not used one before, put the idea on your "one of these days" list. Fairly easy learning curve.

best of luck, Shirley

#4 Pugaboo

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:37 PM

Idaho Potter

I hadn't thought of using an airbrush. I don't know the viscosity of under glazes yet so had not considered it. Thank you for suggesting it, I think I might even have one around here in a box that I inherited from the darkroom when it was shut down I'll have to look for it. Then I'll have to practice with it since I'm not sure I've ever used it! It was one of those things I went oh wow this is nice I'm not getting rid of this I'll keep it and try it out one day... Well I guess one day has arrived!

Thank you everyone for the suggestions and things to consider; still haven't decided what I'll do but I guess I can sleep on it and decide in the morning. This is the first sculpture I have done and am questioning everything I am doing to try and give it the best chance of making it all the way through the process.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#5 Denice

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:39 AM

I would cut an access hole in the bottom when the clay has stiffen but not leather hard. I am always surprise to find a joint not melded together or big blob off clay that developed as I worked. I keep dowel rods and long handled wooden spoon around to reach difficult areas. It doesn't need to be beautiful inside just cohesive. Denice

#6 Pugaboo

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:52 AM

Denise,

Thank you I hadn't considered that aspect of it. I'll gather up some long spoons to use if I need.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#7 TypicalGirl

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:36 PM

I'll just throw my thoughts in for added suggestions ;-)
I don't typically hollow my pieces out after I form them (I think Beth Cavner-Stitcher does), though I do make some tentacle thingies that I do.
With those, I form them and when they've set up just a bit I slice them length-ways down the center, scoop them out and then add wads of newspaper inside to help them keep their form. I do this before the final finish work, so I can smooth and join seams well.

More usually, I start with a pinch pot and fill it with paper as I go, or start with a newspaper "armature" and form the clay around that.
Then the paper just burns out.
Not sure if that's the most efficient way to go about it, but it does work for me ;-)
Cute little guy BTW!
Cathi Newlin, Angels Camp, Ca
box49@caltel.com
http://www.CNewlin.com

#8 Doulla

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 03:57 PM

I make animals by coiling, pinch pots and slabs and even out the walls as I work. You definitely need a hole in the bottom to let the air escape. If you are worried about certain areas being too thick like the shoulder you can pierce through it a couple of times with a potter's needle from the outside, making sure that the needle goes right through into the hollow part and then smoothing over the holes. If you want to cut it in half it is best to do this when it is leather hard or almost leather hard so that it does not distort. I dry my sculptures slowly under loose plastic on a slatted wooden board so that air can circulate. After a few days I replace the plastic with a cloth which I remove during the day and replace overnight. My pieces usually take about 2 weeks to dry. The only time I had a problem was when I forgot to make a hole between the body and tail of a squirrel and it exploded in the kiln. Not a pretty sight!




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