Sculptor Kelly Garrett Rathbone Wins 2012 Peoples Choice Emerging Artist Contest!

The votes are in and we have a winner in the 2012 People’s Choice Emerging Artist contest! This year about 4100 of you voted. Of course, there can only be one winner and I am happy to congratulate Kelly Garrett Rathbone for receiving the most votes. I’d also like to congratulate all of the other contenders on the outstanding work you make.


In today’s post, Kelly shares a little more about her process. Plus she tells us what she plans to do with her $500 gift certificate to Bailey Ceramic Supplies, who graciously sponsored the contest!! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

I built up the vessel for “The Skull Catrina” by stacking up slabs, overlapping them in a brick like pattern, and shaping the vessel from the inside out by beating the interior with a rectangular “bat”.


I then fired the vessel so it would be strong and supportive and then began construction of the “lid”. I made the bust also with a slab technique. I begin a “sketching” approach, changing the angle of the bust and the direction volume of the hair/headdress until I reached the composition that I was satisfied with.


Learn more about figurative sculpture in Edith Garcia’s Ceramics and the Human Figure, which also includes a profile of Kelly Rathbone. Check it out!

Click to enlarge!

Once the “lid” was also bisqued, I painted a wash over the entire sculpture then wiped it off so the details and the features of the sculpture were emphasized. Then I layered a combination of glazes and underglazes. I glazed twice to reach what I wanted in terms of color and depth.


“Warrior” was built with thick slab construction. Once all of the sculpting was complete, I cut the head into segments horizontally and carved away the thick parts of the interior so it was an even thickness all around. Then I scored and slipped the piece back together and left the seems apparent on the outside as an esthetic decision that also showed the history of the process. Once all reassembled I began to carve the drawings into the head. Like “The Skull Catrina”, after the bisque I did a wash over the piece before I began the glazing process.


I feel very honored to receive the People’s Choice Award and the Baileys gift certificate. I have come to know Baileys kilns very well over the last couple years as I fired both of these pieces in them while I was a resident at the Archie Bray. They are so awesome and fire beautifully. Since finishing my residency there, it has become a goal to invest in one some time soon. I’ll possibly put this gift certificate in the “kiln” fund. It will be put to good use for sure. Thank you so much.


To see more great sculpture, download your free copy of Contemporary Clay Sculpture: Modern Ceramic Sculpture as Narrative, Object, and Decor.

  • Subscriber T.

    I love the ‘construction’ of the figure.
    “I painted a wash over the entire sculpture then wiped it off so the details ….”
    What kind of wash do you use?

  • Simon M.

    Stunning sculptures…very inspiring!

  • Michael G.

    Congratulations, Kelly. This is wonderful work. A very creative construction process with a stunning result. I can imagine it as the main feature in our garden. The $500 gift cert. might just be enough to buy enough clay to make another of these huge sculptures.

  • David D.

    Wonderful work and thanks for sharing your construction method. Love’d it!

  • Joe T.

    Congratulations to Kelly! Definitely a tremendous talent!

Enter Your Log In Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.

Larger version of the image

Send this to a friend