Ceramic Sculpture: Inspiring Techniques

Clay is the oldest and most natural medium for sculpture. You can form large pieces one coil at a time, construct pieces with slabs, stack forms into totems, or now even create something digitally and “print” it. In Ceramic Sculpture, clay artists reveal their techniques and their inspiration for creative sculptural works...(Scroll for more.)



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Softcover | 144 Pages
Order code B075 | ISBN 978-1-57498-300-5

…Some of the work is monumental, some intimate, some site specific, but all of it influenced by clay. With each artist providing some aspect of the sculptural process from conceptualization to forming and finishing to the final installation, you’ll find the range of ideas and techniques informative and inspiring.

Travel to studios

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to just travel around to different artists studios to drop in and see what they’re up to? Many artists are open to the idea, but they’re spread all over the place. In Ceramic Sculpture: Inspiring Ideas you’ll enjoy “touring” the country (and even the world) dropping in on artists where they tell their stories, explain their techniques and show examples of their work. For many people, there’s a conflict between the world of high tech and the fine arts but Linda Mau realizes that everyone just wants to be creative. In her “Mathematics as Metaphor” series, she creates geometric forms from Paper Clay and Steel to produce striking forms.

Marcia Selsor enjoys creating architectural elements and forms. Working with slabs at such a scale makes it necessary to control angles and shapes, so her Right Angle Jig does the trick. The jig supports slabs while joining the edges, and is an invaluable tool when building architectural forms.

One of the challenges of working with clay is timing, especially when constructing a complex sculptural form. Mark Gordon has adapted a technique for his ceramic sculpture used by Egyptian brick makers. This Mortar Construction is a simple way to securely attach bone-dry greenware to bone-dry greenware.

George McCauley communicates Life Experiences with his unconventional organization of objects, disturbing juxtapositions and fantastic extravagance. Fleshy figures cavort with a menagerie of barnyard animals, fish, a jumble of miniature cups and other pots. Jim Koudelka freed himself from the constraints of slip-and-score attachments with his Layered Contraptions. He now relies on individual parts that are treated and fired differently then he chooses the best ones along with odd artifacts from his scrap pile. Artists tend to hang onto things and Wendy Walgate writes about her Reflections on Accumulation. Inspired by her Auntie Annie’s wunderkammen (wonder cabinet), she explores the color-saturated palette of her Ukranian ancestors with her assemblages. Hovering somewhere between fine art and kitsch, you may find Greg Penner’s collection of comical and playfully absurd work a tad disturbing. Using slip-cast forms along with handbuilding, his Casting Call of collectible multiples confront psychological issues. Growth Through Change finds a way to survive and to keep it interesting.

Montana sculptor Adrian Arleo lives in a spacious log house next to a wilderness area. Her Nature Studies reflect the natural environment in her human and animal forms along with a water colorist’s palette.

The Heads and Horses of Jean-Pierre Larocque prove that improvisation requires inspiration infused with intellect and executed with a clear mind and sure hand. Over the years, Larocque has developed one of the most distinctive styles in contemporary ceramic art.

Not many sculptors invite their kids and their friends to go swimming but Kathy Venter wanted to photograph the human form jumping into, swimming, rising and floating in water for her terra cotta Immersion Series.

Using a readily available texture attachment for his compressor, Spraying Paper-Reinforced Clay over a foam core became a simple process for W. Lowell Baker. The paper clay is lightweight and the sprayed texture looks great on a surface.


The distinctive Lightweight Sculpture of Barbro Aberg are imbued with a life of their own. Using a body made from paper fiber, perlite and ball clay, her work is never devoid of content. Through Organic Abstraction, Gary Erickson examines complicated ideas about our lives, and creates a synthesis of form in which many meanings are both potential and present. His intensely textured surfaces are created with slips and glazes applied in layers. The Sculptural Vases of Eva Kwong illustrate how she enjoys bringing seemingly disparate forms and colors together, developing a visual complexity that contributes to the success of these pieces. Kathleen Holmes makes Dress Sculptures from clay, glass, needlework and found objects. Using handbuilt forms, she decorates the surface with gesso-soaked crochet or buttons and other found objects. When Jen Champlin was faced with the question of “What do I do with this cumbersome yet sentimental pile of silk and lace?” otherwise known as a wedding dress, she turned to the idea of Slip-coated Fabric. Instead of storing it for moths to eat, dip it and burn it!

Leigh Taylor Mickelson’s Stacked Compositions are inspired by natural forms that act as a metaphor for the spiritual, emotional and physical extremes that exist within ourselves.

Niel Amon and Ruby Levesque create tiles and mount them on an ingenious structure. In Tile and Sculpture they explain their casting process for tiles and provide the details for the wood and metal mounting system to hold the tiles.

Sheri Leigh teaches basic ceramics courses, directs the summer art workshop program and creates Large-scale Slab Sculptures. Using earthenware clay and acrylic paints, her large pieces evoke smiles and offer her “a mini vacation” in her mind when she’s working.

Figures arranged as group sculptures can be used to convey narratives or act as symbols. Mee-Kyung Nam’s Saggar-fired Sculptures are slip cast and manipulated then coated with three light coats of terra sigillata.

The Adobe Castings of Patrick Crabb reflect a rich world of ideas andimages. In reusing forms found in ancient cultures, Crabb draws you closer to the sources of “power, mystery and ritual” found in many indigenous cultures. Clay artist Deirdre McLoughlin falls directly in the middle of the argument about what is sculpture and what is vessel. But her fastidious use of clay for Coiling Around Space makes the argument moot as you find the forms irresistible. Dee Schaad uses his Figurative Soft-Slab Sculpture method for demonstrating both soft-slab construction and the forming method for punching clay to achieve form. You can go in almost any direction with his process. Louis Marak creates Illusionary Sculpture that incorporate trompe l’oeil that present a symphony of textures, shades, layers, humor and color. What’s real and unreal is merely perceptual with Marak’s work. Doing What Comes Naturally drives Catrin Mostyn Jones to create extremely distinctive work with a vibrant color palette and curious, tactile forms. This inspirational article will make you wonder where you want to push your skills.

Texas artist Mary Fischer says “I look at buildings in the wild and in books. They get jumbled in my head and sorted out by my hands.” Her Slab-built Structures start as boxes but lids become roofs and legs and ears (chimneys) appear.

Rapid Prototyping describes the harnessing of three domains of advanced digital technologies: 3D data acquisition, 3D form modeling and 3D printers. The 21st century has arrived and who knows where this technology will be in 50 years.

Using the latest in thermal insulation technology, Nina Hole brings high-tech and primitive together with her Site-fired Kiln Sculpture. Influenced by the architecture in her native Denmark, Nina creates monumental sculptures fired in place.


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