I wish I had started photographing Jesters earlier in the process, but here it is about 40% developed. The body, hands, hat and balls are close to completion. Notice the stylized-realism of the piece – this allows for exaggeration of features to accentuate the character, such as its elongated neck and facial features. The clothes and balls still need definition, design and texture. But you can definitely see its attitude, and its expression is evident! Jesters is all hollow – even the balls and the points on the hat . (In the background you can catch glimpses of my studio.)
Here you see Jesters with the clothing defined, designed and with texture. Notice the gravitational pull of the “fabric” at his wrists. Also, the balls are textured, designed and where they belong.
The title ‘Jesters’ finally makes more sense now that the second jester enters the scene. The crow is perched and attached to the first jester’s shoulder. It’s been built separately, adding the wings, feet and texture. He’s also been hollowed out. Notice the crow also has attitude and expression. And they’ve caught each other’s eye. Jesters is about 70% complete now.
Jesters stands at about 24″ tall at this point, by the time it dries out and is fired it will shrink about 15%.
Now comes the nerve wracking part. Here it is standing in the kiln and wrapped in damp towels to help keep it evenly moist until it will be ready to actually dry out. It needs to dry out evenly to avoid cracking; I then remove the towels, and allow it to dry out thoroughly before it actually gets fired. This will take more than a week of waiting, including additional drying with the kiln open on a very low drying temperature. Once I’m confident that he’s thoroughly dry — and one is never absolutely sure — I set the kiln to fire at 04, which is about 1900 degrees F. If it’s not totally dry, parts will blow off in the areas where there is moisture, or air is trapped. The kilns heats up, turns off, and then I wait for it to cool. This takes about 24 hours. I open it with prayers on my lips — hoping it comes out unscathed. Jesters made it!!
That completed the first firing. The next step – I add an oxide-stain, which reveals all the textures, creases and crevices that indicate detail, and helps create shadow. Then, it goes back in the kiln for a second time to adhere the stain. This is not as nerve-wracking, as there isn’t usually anything that can happen to the structure of the piece.
Following the firing, I add the surface colors – using Prisma colored pencil, I scumble over the surface layer by layer with color to achieve a subtle depth of color that brings the characters to life. Whereupon I add any details, such as the glass beads that are made especially for my pieces, by friend and glass artist, Susan Fox.