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Coil Building Expressive Ceramic Sculpture

Ceramic sculptor Arthur Gonzalez was trained as a photorealist painter, but grew to dislike the control and predictability of that genre. So it is no surprise that when he discovered ceramics (not exactly known for its predictability!) he became hooked. He explains, “I can instantly materialize a thought and then destroy it if it does not deliver what I need.” This immediacy satisfies a love of exploration.


In today’s post, an excerpt from Ceramics and the Human Figure, Edith Garcia explains how Arthur approaches his coil-built figurative clay sculpture. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.



Building Process


Gonzalez creates multidimensional sculptural pieces by using mixed media and sculptural techniques. In the photo series above and on the following pages, he demonstrates how to construct a small female head and torso using terra cotta. When complete, this would be integrated into a larger mixed-media work.



Arthur Gonzalez is just one of the many featured sculptors in Edith Garcia’s latest book Ceramics and Human Figure. For artists, collectors, and anyone interested in these themes, this book is an exciting survey of the state of the figure in clay today. 

Read more and download a free excerpt! 



He uses the inside-out technique, in which clay is pushed and manipulated from the inside of the object to establish a basic form (figures 1–5 ). Building his terra-cotta pieces in this way allows him the flexibility to push the clay in and out, manipulating it to get the exact structure he is searching for. He then slowly builds up and models the facial and figurative details (figures 6–12).


Allowing the pieces to dry, he then bisque fires the work to cone 04. After the bisque firing, and with the application of slips and engobes (figures 13–14 ), he multi-fires his works until he is able to achieve the surface quality he is searching for.



After completing the firing process, he enhances the narrative within his sculptural practice using cast glass, found objects, painting, and drawing. By using mixed media he is able to push the boundaries of the human form and clay



Don’t forget to download your free copy of Contemporary Clay Sculpture: A Collection of Four of Our Favorite Articles on Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture to see work by the latest and greatest new talents in the ceramic arts field.