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Firing A Small Figural Sculpture


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#1 Benzine

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 03:05 PM

I had the idea, for a while, to create a Raku fired, Deco-Inspired, figure sculpture. Initially I was inspired by the vertical winged figures, like those at The Hoover Dam. However, while sketching, I decided to make it a two-piece sculpture.

Anyway, the piece is drying now, and will soon be ready to fire. I'm a little concerned, with loading it into the kiln. If I lift it by the figure, I worry it could come off the base, or at least weaken it enough, that it will separate during the Raku process. If I load it by the base, I worry, I will crack the fragile corners of the base. So I made a larger slab, with holes on the end, that I can load both pieces on. I will bisque the slab, in advance, slide the sculpture onto it, and I can carefully lower that into the kiln, or thread a bit of small rope through the two holes on each side, and lower it that way.

Now, for the Raku portion, I also worry about how I can lift the pieces, out of the kiln. Once again, I worry that picking them up by the figure portion, may cause the bottom to come off. I also thought of using the same bisqued slab, with high temp wire threaded through the holes, and lift the slab, sculptures and all.

What does everyone think? The males figure is attached to the base, by the knee and foot on one side, and the foot on the other. The female is attached by a knee and foot on one side, the tip of the other foot, and a prop made to look like fabric, under her rear. The latter portion I added in last minute, because of concern she would fall back while drying, due to the pose. I did some extensive scoring and slipping, with even a little reinforcing, on all attachment points. I have quite a few hours into it, so I want to get it right.
I have never Raku fired a sculpture like this, so some input would be great. The majority of the sculpture is hollow, as it was coil-built. The walls are about 1/8th of an inch, and There are multiple air vents.

Thanks in advance

Note: Images of the piece can be found in my gallery.

http://community.cer...ral-raku-piece/

I will try to attach them directly later.
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#2 Min

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 03:55 PM

Nice work! 

 

Just throwing this idea out there, don't know if it would work........ but how about a slab with shallow walls on 2 sides, like a tray, so you could grasp the sides with the tongs? Also, a slight depression for the base of the sculpture to sit in slightly so it's less likely to tip over when you are removing it from the kiln? 



#3 Benzine

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:35 PM

Nice work! 
 
Just throwing this idea out there, don't know if it would work........ but how about a slab with shallow walls on 2 sides, like a tray, so you could grasp the sides with the tongs? Also, a slight depression for the base of the sculpture to sit in slightly so it's less likely to tip over when you are removing it from the kiln?


Thanks!

I like the tray idea. Similar to what I was going for with the large slab, but I honestly have no idea, how much stress the high temp wire can take. By this, I mean if I did it my way, could I lift the slab, with the sculpture on it, by the wire, with tongs?

This all may be unnecessary, as I may be able to lift each piece by the sculpture portion. I just am being overly cautious.
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#4 bciskepottery

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 04:41 PM

If you have a kiln shelf to spare, think about putting the sculptures on the shelf now to finish drying and then load it as the top shelf in your bisque firing. Put some cookies or slats under the sculptures to allow drying and to account for expansion/shrinking during firing and cooling.

#5 Babs

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 05:32 PM

Wow great work Benzine!!!

I'd like to say just have faith in your construction But lots at risk.

Good luck , Anxious now to read the outcome.



#6 Benzine

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 07:22 PM

If you have a kiln shelf to spare, think about putting the sculptures on the shelf now to finish drying and then load it as the top shelf in your bisque firing. Put some cookies or slats under the sculptures to allow drying and to account for expansion/shrinking during firing and cooling.

  

I thought of that too, but I'm a bit worried about it sliding off the shelf, as I load it. My kiln requires me to step up, to load, and I'm worried, that with a shelf in hand I'd lose balance. That's why I came up with the slab idea. It would work as a small shelf essentially.

Do you really think I need cookies? I've fired slabs larger than this directly on a shelf before with no issues. I did wonder about such an issue though.

Wow great work Benzine!!!
I'd like to say just have faith in your construction But lots at risk.
Good luck , Anxious now to read the outcome.


I have faith in my construction, but being I have never fired something of this type, using the Raku process, I also know enough, to not put too much faith in my construction.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#7 bciskepottery

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:06 PM

Do you really think I need cookies? I've fired slabs larger than this directly on a shelf before with no issues. I did wonder about such an issue though.


If you use your slab, then cookies would not be needed. It was more in the context of the idea of putting the sculptures on the shelf to dry -- with cookies underneath in lieu of the slab. Cookies or slats would allow for more air circulation for cooling than a flat slab, which might also retain more heat. Not sure if the sculptures/base are solid or hollowed out.

#8 Benzine

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Posted 19 April 2014 - 08:46 PM

Do you really think I need cookies? I've fired slabs larger than this directly on a shelf before with no issues. I did wonder about such an issue though.

If you use your slab, then cookies would not be needed. It was more in the context of the idea of putting the sculptures on the shelf to dry -- with cookies underneath in lieu of the slab. Cookies or slats would allow for more air circulation for cooling than a flat slab, which might also retain more heat. Not sure if the sculptures/base are solid or hollowed out.

The slab is not hollow, but only about 1/4" thick total.

The sculptures are hollow, from the feet to the head, and to the wrists. The each sculpture is vented through the feet, and then through the slab. Now I'm wondering if I should have/ still should, have some small holes else where...?
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#9 Mug

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 11:58 AM

Looks like a tough one for Raku

Kudo's on the clay spear...

 

Wishing you good luck!!



#10 Benzine

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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:46 PM

Looks like a tough one for Raku
Kudo's on the clay spear...
 
Wishing you good luck!!


Yeah, may be tough to do, I don't always think that far ahead. I have an idea, and just want to do it, ease of completion be damned.

The clay spear was actually the easiest part of the whole thing. If it breaks, it won't be hard to make another. It will serve as a good prototype for my life-size clay spear.....
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#11 Benzine

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Posted 27 April 2014 - 04:56 PM

The sculpture survived the trip to the kiln, and the bisque firing.
I probably was overly cautious, with the firing. I scooted the sculpture, onto the slab I made, which I did not prefire. Because of that, I was concerned about the slab, snapping, causing me to drop the sculpture. SomI scooted all of it, onto a small kiln shelf, which I had sitting on two horizontal postsm to allow even more air circulation.

Everything came out great. I could not see any cracks on the sculpture at all. That gives me hope, when it comes to the Raku firing.
Next step, glazing!
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#12 Benzine

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 05:08 PM

Well, after months of the sculpture sitting around collecting dust (Pfff, silly teaching responsibilities), I was finally able to get it glazed, and find a day, where it wasn't raining or threatening to rain.

 

http://community.cer...ral-raku-piece/

 

The firing went well, despite my worry, that the tank was getting a bit low, and was even able to do another quick firing, after I unloaded the sculpture. (Though the bottom of the tank did frost up on a near 90 degree day).

 

I had to try a couple different angles and grabs to get each piece of the sculpture out, without touching anything else, but I managed to do so.  The biggest issue was removing the spear, which I kept as separate piece, in case in needs to be replaced down the road.  I had the spear on stilts, but didn't really anticipate how hard it would be to grab that tiny thing with a pair of Raku tongs.  It was like a game of "Operation".  

 

As mentioned in the gallery, some of the glazes didn't turn out exactly as I wanted/ planned, probably due to the amount of reduction, or my timing from the kiln to sealed reduction bin.  But, when choosing colors, I went with those that even if they oxidized more than I wanted, they'd still fit the aesthetic.  

 

My biggest concern, and the one I made apparent, when I started this thread, was that because of the small attachment points, between the figures and their respective bases, I was concerned that the stress of firing would cause them to crack or detach completely.  This was a non-issue during the firing.  I honestly wasn't even too careful, about how I grabbed the pieces with the tongs.  

Now that that is all said and done, it's my wife's job to find somewhere in the house to put it.  And I'm on to another project.


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#13 Babs

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 06:12 PM

Great finish benzine! Nice rto see the finished piece. Whaat size is it? Only that if said partner can't find a spot you could ship it to me.. :)



#14 Benzine

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 07:34 PM

Thanks Babs.

 

The dimensions are approximately: L: 10" X W: 7" X H: 6".


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#15 Babs

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 03:03 AM

Shippable!



#16 Isculpt

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 09:22 AM

Congratulations, Benzine!  It came out great!  That is an incredible amount of detail for so small a sculpture -- good eyesight and dental tools???  I would never have expected it to survive handling with tongs, let alone the stress of raku firing.  You have inspired me to toss my sculptures into a sawdust-filled trashcan and let 'er rip!

Jayne



#17 Benzine

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 02:10 PM

Thanks Jayne, that means a lot coming from you, as I am a big fan of your work.  My vision up close is pretty good, and yes, luckily my wife is a dental assistant, so I have access to quite a few dental tools.  They just throw them away, when they get too dull for teeth.  Luckily "tool dull for teeth" is still plenty sharp for nearly any stage of clay.  

 

I too was a little pessimistic about it surviving the firing, as I mentioned.  Oddly enough, with anything I've ever Raku fired, I've only had minor cracks, whereas the big cracks I've had show up on wares, was from a normal electric kiln glaze firing (Dunting due to glaze application in nearly every case).  Also, I had a student create a Raku-fired chameleon, with SUPER skinny legs.  I actually bisque fired it with a prop under the body, because I didn't think the unfired legs would hold.  When we did the Raku, and went to pick it up off the shelf with the tongs, it happened to be sitting on a glaze drip from a firing right before.  So it was really stuck.  The student unloading the kiln tried a couple times, and then happily passed me the tongs, as they didn't want to break anything.  I tried, and it was on there really well.  So I had a student with another pair of tongs hold the shelf in place, and I gave it a good pull.  It came off, all legs in tact.  Several days later, another student jokingly went to pretend to try and knock the chameleon out of another student's hands, and broke one of the legs.  Moral of the story, clay intended for Raku firing can hold up to pretty much anything, except human idiocy.  


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#18 Isculpt

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 05:57 PM

 

  Several days later, another student jokingly went to pretend to try and knock the chameleon out of another student's hands, and broke one of the legs.  Moral of the story, clay intended for Raku firing can hold up to pretty much anything, except human idiocy.  

 

Hmmmm. It's that last part that usually does me in!



#19 CarlCravens

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 01:22 PM

luckily my wife is a dental assistant, so I have access to quite a few dental tools.  They just throw them away, when they get too dull for teeth.


I asked my hygienist last time I was in for a cleaning... my dentist uses high-dollar tools that they send back to the manufacturer to have them re-tipped when they can't be sharpened any more.

The "green" in me approves of fixing and reusing tools instead of throwing them away... but the hobbyist in me is disappointed.
Carl (Wichita, KS)

#20 Benzine

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Posted 10 July 2014 - 02:25 PM

 

luckily my wife is a dental assistant, so I have access to quite a few dental tools.  They just throw them away, when they get too dull for teeth.


I asked my hygienist last time I was in for a cleaning... my dentist uses high-dollar tools that they send back to the manufacturer to have them re-tipped when they can't be sharpened any more.

The "green" in me approves of fixing and reusing tools instead of throwing them away... but the hobbyist in me is disappointed.

 

 

Ha!  I keep telling my wife, that I think it's wasteful, but I can't complain too much, as I get some really detailed carving tools.  This comes in handy, as I let my students borrow them, and sometimes they come back worse for the wear.


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