Studio Reflections

Ceramics Reflection

Clay. It is cold. It is moist. It is plastic… until it gets dry. I found that working with clay was quite an experience. There are so many approaches in the construction of ceramic three-dimensional artwork. Each approach has its offering to students of different age groups. The processes can be adjusted to each need.

Of the three methods we practiced in class, I found the pinch pot method to be the most difficult for me. I know that this method is the most accessible for all age groups. I had a hard time of keeping my structure even. I was pinching away at the clay and before I knew it, I made a pot that was far too wide. I found that I had less control of the clay. I think that the fact that it was the first time I had created something from clay in many years may have influenced my success with the method. I was getting re-acquainted with the material.

The second method we practiced, coil construction, provided me with a more structured result. We started by creating a sketch of the design we would like to create. Through the preliminary design I had an opportunity to understand what I was making before I made it. I found that the coil construction still had its own difficulties. I suffer from warm hand syndrome and found that my clay kept drying out as I continued to work with the clay. This factor also caused frustration with the pinch pots as my piece began cracking. My coils would begin to crack. It was hard to keep the plasticity of the clay. I had make sure that my clay was moist as I worked with it. I feel that this method can be on of the most unstable constructions. If not slip & scored properly, coils could come apart. However, I feel that the design process helped me create a more successful piece.

We practiced the slab construction method for our final project. The final goal of this project was clear from the beginning as we followed the directions from the lesson plan. I found that this technique was most successful for me. This could be attributed to the fact that we had been working with clay for a few weeks and I began to understand what I could do with clay. The use of tools also kept my hand away from the clay so I did not have as many issues with cracking. This process was more complicated and required geometric thinking when considering the construction of our object.  The addition of texture added another dimension to our project. The tea cups become more unique.

Ceramics can be quite complex. We have only finished a portion of our work with ceramics. I am looking forward to the completion of our projects after the final firing. In considering ceramics projects for our classrooms, we must consider the amount of time it takes to complete a project. We also need to keep storage in mind. How will we preserve the clay in for our students? Where will we store our students’ artworks safely? I feel that ceramics are a vital part of students’ art education. Some students do not have an opportunity to explore the medium. Clay is a very exciting material with many possibilities for lessons.


Papier Mache Reflection

I am a really big fan of using paper in my artwork. I have a soft spot for papier mache. Many years ago, I participated in a youth workshop at Pyramid Atlantic in Silver Spring, Maryland. One of the first projects we worked on were papier mache wire sculptures inspired by the Day of the Dead. We worked with Mexican paper artist Adalberto Alvarez Martinez. We began with wire and cardboard armatures to create our sculptures.

I was really excited to do papier mache in our class. I decided to apply my prior knowledge to this new experience. We learned about H-frames and A-frames. We also learned how to add layers to strengthen out sculptures. The project was inspired by our personal thoughts on ecology and environmental issues.

When I walked into the Benjamin Building on the first day of the project, I had a vision of a massive tree coming out of a building. I decided to build upon this idea and create a sculpture. It reflected thoughts of deforestation to build homes and skyscrapers. If you think about it … the land that the building occupies was once inhabited by plant life and animals. I incorporated an experimental form from the previous  class to recall the idea of an natural spirit reclaiming the building for nature.

I learned that the armature is key to the stability of the sculpture. From the beginning my structure was not very strong. I kept adding things without really attaching them firmly. My base was made out of cardboard, egg cartons, wire, and twisted newspaper. I wish I had more time to fully strengthen my armature. Or I could have created something much smaller. Overall, I was happy with my project. I did notice that is was hard to papier mache tight areas like the branches and roots of my tree.


Wood & Wire Reflection

When we were told that we could use wood, I instantly thought of using found twigs for my sculpture. I think I focused more on the wood element of this project. I wanted to highlight the natural organic element. I used the wire primarily to attach the twigs together after using hot glue. The wire also became a decorative element. As I child, I found more enjoyment running through the hidden paths in the woods around the playground than in the playground itself. I wanted to translate my own childhood playful experiences into this sculpture. I wanted to create and infinite sense of movement and space.


Plaster Reflection

I have also worked with plaster before, however, I hated it. I did not like it back then and I’m still not the biggest fan. I thought that the handout were very useful. They were great lesson ideas. I still feel that plaster can be very difficult, surprising, and messy.

I chose to add vermiculite to my plaster mixture. This would make carving easier. I find it difficult to think subtractively from a block of plaster. It is hard to discover the three-dimensional form from the plain block. I could visualize each facet but I found it difficult to bring them together and work them at the same time.

My design changed throughout the sculpture. Originally, I wanted to create a hand-like form but my block was more shallow than I expected. I changed my design a smaller hand-clasping form. As I dug away at the block I noticed another form emerge. This then became a small, big-headed figure reading a book. This project taught me to be patient and open-minded.


Project Recycled Runway Reflection

This project was one of the most entertaining and frustrating projects that we had. It was definitely creative and imaginative. Working in groups, we each had different ideas for the group. I think that because I took lead in the more structural elements of the design that I took over. It felt more like my design with the addition of Summer’s decorative touch. I was inspired by architecture and textures.

The entire process of constructing our design was difficult and I felt like because I took over, I made the work harder for myself. It was very physical and violent. I smashed the cans with a mallet and hammered nails into them. I sat and painstaking stitched the cans with wire to make the skirt. I also patiently pleated the paper to create the bodice. It was a lot of work and I would look over and see Summer painting and sprinkling glitter on the decorative accents. It was fun but I definitely hammered and cut myself in making the project. The best part was running around in the dress as the cans clanked all around.

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