20 heads in 20 weeks

I’ve been thinking about my New Year’s resolution to stick with one theme for awhile. I have not been doing real great in that area, so I when I read on the Fine Mess Pottery blog about Lori’s challenge to herself of making 100 mugs in 100 days, I got inspired. All of her mugs will be somewhat different, with the idea of using one functional form and coming up with new ideas and forms. She will be having a gallery show and coffee and talk with the artist – herself, of course – at the end of the 100 days. It’s a wonderful project in so many ways. You can see her progress at http://finemessblog.blogspot.com/. I am excited about doing something similar. I don’t do much – well, not any – throwing so I won’t be doing mugs. I make a lot of plates and bowls, but they are kind of moving along right now and I’m not moved toward a challenge with them – maybe later. What I keep coming back to that I would like to explore more and improve my skill on is the human head.

SO, my challenge to myself is to make 20 heads in 20 weeks. (OK, that doesn’t have the excitement and poetry that 100 mugs in 100 days does, but I want to be realistic and have some chance for success.) I would like to explore heads and faces that are not as studied as the ones I have made before. My idea is to make quicker forms, almost sketches in clay, but within the context of the head, using some of the techniques, textures, glazes, and clays that I have been wanting to try. But who knows where it will take me.

I thought of making lists and assignments for myself, like making a drawing to go along with each head, but then I remembered how badly I react to authority even when it comes from myself and I know I have to keep it a little looser. The idea is to explore and expand, not get too fussy.

Here are some of the ideas I have come up to experiment with. I’m very open to suggestions of what to add or forget about. 1. building process – coil, slab, pad, armature, solid and then hollowing, etc. 2. building from the neck or shoulders up, or from the top of the head down to the neck. (working upside down would be a challenge within a challenge, maybe like drawing with your non-dominant hand.) 3. trying different clays 4. adding molded parts 5. size – especially going smaller since I tend to work on the large size 6. expression 7. finding matte glazes that I like and trying crawl glazes 8. using oxides 9.using colored clays 10. making faces that do not look like me.

I haven’t decided yet if I will include head “vessels”, but I can decide that later. Here are some that I have done before. Not that you can tell from these pictures, but the mug is about half the size of the container with the bird on the lid.



I am starting this week, so by June I should have 20 sculptural heads. I’ll keep you, er, posted.


3 responses to “20 heads in 20 weeks

  1. Wow — can’t wait to see the products!

  2. Hi Barbara, what a wonderful and tremendous challenge you have set for yourself. Your mug and lidded container are beautiful. I love the color of the mug, is that an oxide; what type of clay did you use? What a spectacular patina to that piece. I love the ancient feel to the lidded jar – is it unglazed? You do wonderful work. I am really looking forward to seeing your heads.

    The only sculpture I have attempted is a female torso. I rolled out two slabs and brought them home; then when I started to put it together I realized I had no idea of how to hold the clay up, luckily a friend came by and suggested I crumple up newspapers and wrap the slabs around them. So I proceeded to crumple up balls of newspaper and used painter’s tape to tape them together and then draped the slabs over the newspaper armature and then sculpted from that – it all burned out in the bisque and although the torso wasn’t very artistic, I felt like it was a success because it made it through bisque firing and Cone 10 glaze firing. You have inspired me to try another sculpture using this technique and perhaps I will photo along the way and post on my blog. Hope you show some of your techniques along the way too.

  3. Linda, I look forward to seeing your sculpture on your blog. The head jar with bird lid is mostly unglazed on the outside but glazed inside. I like the look of the Black Mountain Sculpture clay when it is unglazed.
    I end up usually using coils to build with. I guess I just think from a bottom-up perspective.

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