Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Making a bird feeder

Last semester, we were given an assignment in ceramics to create a piece that was inspired by architecture.  We were also told to create something that mattered to us.

Part of the assignment was learning to slake our own clay.  The process itself is not fun, is very tedious and time consuming, but it's an excellent work out and can be a lot of fun if you get to do it with a friend (Thanks Carrie!!)

I chose Balinese Architecture.  I first came across it in 1999 when I was researching Julie Taymore.

I love all the roof angles and detail work!  And there's so much symbolism.  The scaled edges typically represent dragons as a sign of good luck.  And demons in the stone work are used to scare away evil spirits.

I decided that I wanted to make a bird feeder.  I remember my Grandma Betty having a bird feeder that looked like a little house with a large opening, and every day, she took a small bowl of bird seed out there to put in it.  It's one of the numerous favorite memories that I have of my Grandma Betty.

After I came up with my basic design, I patterned it out, then flattened a whole lot of clay and cut out my pieces.

I felt like I was building an inedible gingerbread house the entire time I was working on it.

Side view as I emphasize the dragon element.
I had to fill it with bags to keep the roof held up.
Over all, VERY pleased with the construction.  Even the slight imperfection works with the Balinese theme, as perfect tends to call the wrath of the jealous spirits.
I also chose to work on plaster impressions for this piece.  I wanted a removable bowl for inside my feeder that would be covered in demons.

Love the way my demon turned out!
Then I made my bowl and did my impressions.

I put one at each of the four directions.  If I place it right in my yard, they'll face North, South, East and West.
After they dried, it was time to bisque them, and then it was one of my favorite parts:  glazing!

I used Carries wonderful layered spray technique for the base, then came in with detail to accent the roofing.
You get a better idea of the layered spray on the side here.
I even detailed some of the decorative elements on the roof.
A close up on the side detail work.
I also sprayed the bowl.

I didn't want it to be exactly the same colors as the exterior, but I wanted it to go together.

I chose the same accents as I used on the exterior to help tie the two pieces together.

I have to admit, I like the finished piece and the way the glazes changed.  I look forward to when I can get it out of the case and mount it in my yard (:

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