CM: Could you explain some of the technical challenges in building and firing your turbine forms, and how you overcome those challenges?
PCJ: Beyond the usual challenge of minimizing warping and cracking during drying, these pieces have the added element of requiring a clay support structure or armature to displace their weight during firing. The complexity of these forms ultimately led me to begin sketching my ideas using a three-dimensional modeling program. This allows me to make precise measurements and troubleshoot weak spots.
I then build a clay sub-structure that eventually becomes the surface on which the actual sculpture is constructed. Both clay forms are fired together and the substructure is discarded.
For some pieces, the armatures themselves are fairly complicated but necessary to ensure any chance of survival of the actual pieces. I should add that all of the more complicated pieces are built on both a piece of sheetrock and a clay slab. The sheetrock allows the work to be slid safely into the kiln, and the slab ensures that both armature and sculpture shrink together. The clay slab is discarded and the sheet rock is burned off.