Need a little support

Years ago when I cast handmade moulds with concrete, I formed my first ‘couple’. I managed to reproduce 10 of these before the delicate mould was retired. Now, I find creating with clay and firing each original piece is much more satisfying. Each piece is completely different, some even take on a direction of their own. I enjoy this process and am always excited to see the end result, when they emerge from their final firing.

On my first attempt of my couple in clay I put a vinyl cone support under the man, thinking that the woman could be built around him, but as I created, she started to slump.

Instead of scrapping the work, I went with the clay and love the result.

You could view the piece as a man supporting a weak or sick woman, or of a woman buckling underneath the pressure of holding up and supporting the man.

With the second piece, I built a support using cut down containers held together with duct tape. I covered the containers with a bread bag for easy removal. This ensured the couple kept their form. The support pieces were removed on day 2.

Being an egg donor, I am sensitive to the struggle some couples go through to be blessed with a child. I created a baby to fit in the couples arm, making the piece complete. While the piece was drying my three-year old daughter kept putting the baby back into the couples arms, when I would have it sitting next to the piece. I loved that she always wanted the baby with its parents, and not on its own on the shelf.

The piece turned out to be an interactive one. It’s surprising how the physical act of putting the baby in its place makes you feel good.

I sponged a black slip onto both pieces.

Unfortunately the glossy glaze did not give me the desired look. Perhaps they will find a home with someone. Thankfully art appeals to an array of people. I would have preferred a matt finish and will be purchasing my own glazes for future use, and applying a thicker slip.

Live and learn.

Whats in a name?

If you have had a child then you will be familiar with the enormous responsibility of choosing a name for that wee individual. The pressure would keep me up at night.

I managed to refrain from looking at name books and from google searches such as “old lady names” until I got that double line of positivity. But as soon as that bun was in the oven I was consumed. I started focusing on the credits of movies.

During one pregnancy I was working as a receptionist at a vet clinic. I would spend time searching client names. Dog names make great little people names. The thing is, naming a baby is one thing, but that name has to last a lift time. What suits a bonnie wee baby boy may not suit a rather large masculine man.

And then there’s ‘namer’s remorse’. I had this bad with our son, Angus. I didn’t regret that we gave him the middle name of ‘Danger’. He will, unfortunately for him, always know that his parents have an odd sense of humor. But I was not happy with ‘Angus’. We loved that our Scottish heritage was evident, and its meaning is “strength”, but I had a bad case of ‘namer’s remorse’. I even looked into what I would have to do to officially change it, but I had no idea what too, so Angus it remained.

On a more recent google search I found that it also means ‘one’, which is fitting as he is my only boy, besides the baby that resulted from my egg donation, but thats their ‘one’, and another post all together. Also appropriate as he was a twin!

As I’d had two previous pregnancies I knew when we were pregnant within the first couple of weeks of gestation. All my pregnancy cues were in full force. I went for bloods, which showed higher results than expected for someone at that gestation. We were sent for an early scan. I think it was about 8 weeks. Sure enough the scan showed two little heart beats. The problem was that one little line was the expected length for 8 weeks and the other 6 weeks. We loved the idea of having twins, but were told of this vanishing twin syndrome and knew it didn’t look promising. While superfetation can coccur in animals, such as rodents, rabbits and horses, it’s not known to occur in humans.

Sure enough by the next scan, 2 weeks later the little line was just a line, without the flickering heart beat. Perhaps the loss of this little spirit is why I didnt feel complete after our third child, and lead me to donate eggs…. which still didnt satisfy my need for another little spirit.

We had our fourth child, Daisy, five years later.

‘Old lady’s name’…… Tick

My next two ladies

Continuing on with my motherly theme I created these two ladies, my pregnant woman having a moment with her bump and the blessed mother with her child.

 

This time to make sure they didn’t slump I used vinyl, taped into a cone, covered in a bread bag as a support. After the first day a drying I could remove the cone and pull free the plastic bag. If more shaping was needed, it could be done then, before the piece gets too dry. The following day I used a cut metal knitting needle to reach the end of the hollow cavity to ensure there is a gap in the clay, about the neck, creating an escape for trapped air during firing, prevent the ladies heads from blowing up, potentially taking out nearby pieces from other artists.

 

I had fun with the colouring of these pieces, blending brown to green on one piece and using a selection of blues on my watery woman. Unfortunately I was told about englobes, and coated the pieces in Kakapo Green and Peacock Blue. I thought this would give the girls some amazing texture and contrast. The watery lady looked ok, perhaps a bit too busy and the green lady kinda just went a solid bright green. Not really the earthy toned lady I had envisioned.

 

Oh well, I am told that this is what pottery is about. Experimenting. Especially when you have a group kiln, and you are not in control of the firing temperatures. I think I need to do some googling research of glazes, slips and englobes and perhaps invest in some products to my tastes, hopes and dreams.

I have not been deterred.