Sunday, 29 December 2013

Post 137 New tanuki or two

The festive season for 2013 is still with us for just a few more days. High temperatures and rising humidity keep me out of the garden and greater outdoors from 9 to 4; good time to retreat to the workshop.
I have two more remaining long sergent juniper layerings in need of tanukis, perfect jobs for a stolen hour here and there.
The last one I made back in July,  Tanuki no 4  and then set up in October is doing well. In that post, No 126, you can see the long slender layerings that I have yet to use. They are about 300 to 320mm long.

The pictures today are of the second of two I have made over the past week. This one is still a work in progress at this point. As the clay dries to a consistency of firm cheddar cheese it becomes perfect for carving. By that stage it has the strength to support weight without deformation and also to shed shavings carved off.
A big lump of clay is like a sponge and the moisture in it moves with gravity from top to bottom, so the fine detailing work has to be done from the top down. You have to build these things from the bottom up of course, leaving more material at the base to support the top. As it dries a little it can then support more material added above and then finally much of the extra clay in the base can be carved out, and the detail added.
Because of the balance between malleability and strength the build has to be done over a number of days. As the top dries anything with a slender profile is very fragile. You might imagine that bone dry clay would be good to carve but in fact at that cheddar stage it has some elasticity and cuts with a nice clean edge, which is much better.

Working on a turntable is the only way to go with these. Yes its a bit messy and you can't see the floor, so don't be tempted to try this on your kitchen table.

 This is just a random detail of the aged grainwork. Here you can see the keyhole track for housing the tree.

As these go through the firing pipeline  I'll post them again. I want to get the trees set asap for the balance of the growing season.

Speaking of firing the kiln is loaded with another 4 big pots, 102 to 105, for another bisque firing, just waiting for the right day.

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