Ed, my tutor, suggested that I consider making something for the Inspired by… gallery up on the North York Moors. As the name suggests the work should be inspired by the moors. I didn’t feel like making sheep or grouse and things like tractors are not really subjects for clay. Then I thought that Katie Ventress the artist blacksmith would be ideal. Katie lives and works on the east end of the moors and she had recently given a talk about her work to students at college.
Katie kindly agreed to me visiting her workshop to take some photographs and measurements with a view to making a 1/4 size model in clay. If you visit her website, which do hope you do as she produces some stunning stuff in metal, her “about” page has a picture of her sitting on her anvil, which is perched on a large wooden block [the block serves not only to get the height right but also to cushion rebound from the anvil]. The picture seemed a good place to start; her petite form with heavy tools of her work.
I was going to use pizza oven clay that has a heavy grogg, which tends to aid building up but limits the amount of detail that one can produce. However, it had all gone by the time I wanted to start so I used a finer clay. In the first couple of days and I had completed the block and anvil and they have been fired since this picture was taken and came out without breakage.
Overall, I’ve spent about 40 hours modelling – and if I’d got it right first time the number of hours would have been much smaller.
The bit of stuff on the lap is cling film used as a barrier between the hands and thighs so they can move – and not tear or crack at the wrists with uneven shrinkage – and the stick was to help form a hole for a hammer handle after firing.
There’s lots more to do with regard to colouring the piece after its bisque firing and I shall let know how I get on..