My new head is not what I planned. but that is not unusual. I often start with one intention and watch myself rather surprisingly do something else. I was thinking I would be starting a smallish solid head, but the clay I started with was a little too soft to use without some support so instead of changing clay to fit my plan, I changed my idea to fit the clay. I pulled out a base and pole, and started wrapping newspaper around it.
I could have found some firmer clay but what’s the difference, really. At the moment I’m not doing these heads for anyone but me so I can do them in any order that comes up.
I covered the newspaper with clay in a basic shape and then set it aside and worked on some other stuff. Before I went back to it the next day, I got a thoughtful piece of advice on the 20 heads project from Bonnie Staffel about putting meaning into why I am making these heads. Of course! The head should speak to us. If I experiment with textures and finishes and make a souless head as a byproduct, I might as well use a slab to experiment on. For the head to make a connection with a viewer, I have to connect with the head and put feeling into it while I am making it if I want any feeling to come out for myself or anyone else. It’s so basic when you think about it, which I wasn’t. I was trying to combine too many elements and putting the emphasis on the wrong ones.
So as I worked on this new face I knew I wanted her to be a woman and have hair (which is something I struggle with – both clay hair and my own wild hair) and have some personality and not look like me. She does have hair. (It was much longer for most of the time I was working on her, but just at the end I cut it off with one slice. Took years off of her looks.) I think she has some personality and she doesn’t look like me.
When she dries enough I will have to cut her apart both to free her more easily from the armature, but more importantly so I can scoop out some of the thick clay at the back of her head before I slip her up and make her whole again. I have cut smaller heads without armatures apart and reassembled them, but she is life size. I think if I slice diagonally through her forehead and continue on in back of her ears, I will be able to pull out the newspaper and lift her off the pole the paper is wrapped around.
But first she has to dry and nothing is dry around here now. It has been raining nonstop for days. My dog and a friend and I had an blustery long walk in the pouring rain this morning. The dog, who has to be literally pushed outside for routine matters when it is raining, was overjoyed to be drenched if it meant being out on a walk with me.