The Stoneware Sculpture Process
I use the same clay for sculpture as for my raku pots. (Scarva Earthstone Professional PF520). Although designed primarily for raku, the clay fires to a lovely white which provides a good base for applied colours. In addition it has low shrinkage and is resistant to warping and cracking.
Creating sculptures provides me with a complete contrast to making pots for naked raku firings. Instead of focusing on ensuring the smoothest surface possible, when working on sculptures I am trying to create individual character, texture and a sense of movement and life.
Finished sculptures are allowed to dry slowly over several weeks to minimise the risk of cracking or warping, then fired very slowly in an electric kiln to 1000°c.
The entire sculpture is then painted with a mixture of oxides, which are then partially wiped away to create areas of shadow and to highlight texture. Blended coloured stains are then applied to the sculpture in several layers. During the final firing to 1220°c these colours bond to the finished piece, with the oxide layer acting as a flux.