I was pretty blown away by these wall reliefs and figures that I found this morning, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the pottery studio and it’s become more and more apparent how hard it is to create sculptures out of clay. Although the material itself is quite durable, with it being easy to add and subtract quantity, the sculpting process can be quite long and tedious. Firing the pieces can also be a tricky one, to get this right each time is a real art and can make or break an object, luckily we have people out there like Joy Brown who can show us how it’s done.
Actually, I came across Joy’s blog earlier in the year and it’s one that I’ve bookmarked in my reader, when she does write I find it quite fascinating as she always places up photography from her recent commissions. Usually she’s asked to create her famous figures in a bigger form, sometimes I’m blown away by the size of the structures since they’re made of individual parts and then joined together. Joy is a child of medical missionaries in Japan, she spent eighteen years of her life there and after college in the United States she went back to work as an apprentice in pottery for four years. Working with clay then became her way of life. During her apprenticeship she was required to make thousands of cups, this taught her disciplined concentration, and an understanding of and respect for the clay. She now works in Kent, Connecticut, but she’s regularly globe trotting to make different pieces in many different countries, recently China and sometimes she goes back to Japan. Astonishingly a year of her work is fired at once in her 28-foot-long Japanese style anagama wood-firing kiln, they’re left 24-hours-a-day for a week inside this kiln, firing at an intense amount of heat. It’s interesting that she uses this technique because I seem to have been drawn more towards wood firing lately, I like some of the textures and the rugged feel that you get from this natural material, it’s very experimental.
The figurines themselves are amazing and are full of character, I really want some for my own house as I think they’ll look great littered around the place. She makes them by using a slab of clay which is then made into a flattened cylinder, forming the torso. She adds short coils or wads of clay to build the legs, toros and arms, then pinches to shape all the way up to the head where she can work on the facial expression. These weirdly remind me of Le Corbusier and the way he used to sculpt, they’ve got something about them that’s really appealing and quirky. I’ve tried to pick out a rounded selection of her work but if you’re looking for more I would head to the websites linked below.