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Ceramic Sculpture Techniques


trompe-loeil-695Clay is a wonderful material because it can be made to look like just about anything. From Sylvia Hyman’s cardboard boxes of mail to Brett Kern’s “inflatable” dinosaurs, the trompe l’oeil (French for “Fool the Eye”) tradition is strong in ceramic sculpture.

Kathy Pallie chose to emulate the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe in a commission for a resort hotel there. In today’s post, an excerpt from Sculpture Techniques, Kathy shares how she created her wall installation that looks like a grove of aspen trees. –Jennifer Harnetty, editor

Making a Realistic Clay Wall Sculpture

by Kathy Pallie

Building Trees

Using white earthenware clay, I extruded 46 tubular forms ranging in diameter from 1 to 6 inches. Each clay tube was 52 inches long, allowing for shrinkage during drying and firing so that it would meet the required height of 48 inches. Depending on the diameter of the tubes, they were extruded onto either a wooden dowel or a PVC pipe with a base, so they could stand upright as I worked on them and would not distort or collapse on themselves (figure 1).

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To create a convincing replica, I worked from many photos of aspen trees, some of which I had taken while in Colorado, others from printed materials (figure 2). I also had some sections of small aspen tree trunks. Since the bark color seems to vary from grove to grove, these various images and pieces gave me good reference material.



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