Making a large wall piece out of hundreds of forms requires some serious planning, mapping, and methodical organization, along with a whole lot of patience and passion. But if done right, the results are stunning.
In today’s post, an excerpt from the May 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Monica Rudquist explains how she tackled such a feat (with the aforementioned stunning results!). – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
Intersection is a wall installation made up of approximately 1000 thrown and reassembled porcelain cylinders covering a wall 24 feet long and 8 feet tall. Making and preparing for the installation went hand in hand as I needed to know how I was going to install these pieces before I actually made them. I used thrown and reassembled cylinders as the building blocks. Each piece has a small, nail-sized hole on the back for hanging directly on the wall. The bigger issue was figuring out the template.
I created the template first on the table to determine the design and mark the placement of the clay pieces, then repositioned it to the wall for exact placement of the pieces. I used Tyvek house wrap to create the template. This enabled me to work with one template from start to finish as the house wrap is water resistant and very tough. I could place freshly thrown pieces directly on the template and continue to work on them as they dried without ruining the template. I could also write directly on the house wrap with a permanent marker to trace the pieces and mark the nail placement. This made installation easier since I could tape the template directly to the wall, nail right through it, then remove the template without destroying it.
Fitting the Pieces for the Wall
After I finalized the composition of each section, I made the nail holes. I wanted the pieces to fit flush against the wall, so I made the holes about an inch down from the top and .5 inch to .75 inch deep at a 45 degree angle and with a wide enough diameter at the deepest point for the nail to fit. I used headless nails between .5 inch and 2 inches long, depending upon the size and weight of the piece.
Since all the pieces were different sizes and shapes, it ended up being a fairly intuitive thing to figure out the weight and balance of how the individual pieces would actually hang. On some of the larger pieces, the hole needed to be made farther in toward the center or off to the side to create the correct balance. When it came to actually hanging the pieces, museum wax made it easy to make slight adjustments.
To make the holes I used three tools, a small arrow-shaped metal carving tool, a fettling knife, and a sponge. I used the arrow tool to drill a hole at a 45 degree angle, the fettling knife to ensure it was wide enough at the deepest point for the nail to fit in fully, and the sponge to round the edges of the hole to prevent chipping. Since these pieces were made from porcelain and fired to cone 10, I was confident that this was a strong hanging method. Finally each piece was numbered to match the template.
To learn more about Monica Rudquist’s installation process and how she adapted Intersection to create Intersections for LifeSource in Minneapolis, Minnesota, check out the entire article from the May 2015 issue of Ceramics Monthly.