Brown carves Styrofoam into various shapes, like the above torso. Later she will use these shapes to create plaster molds for press molding.

I realized that we were really due for a sculpture post here on CAD, so today I am featuring the work of Christie Brown. This post doesn’t only pertain to sculpture though. Christie’s techniques could easily be adapted for functional work.

 

In today’s post, an excerpt from Ceramics and the Human Figure, Edith Garcia explains how Christie makes her molds from Styrofoam models and then press molds and assembles her work. Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

 


 

Here Brown finishes the cutting process for the final sections of the Styrofoam piece.

Christie Brown’s large-scale works are created by press-molding terra cotta, and most recently white-bodied clay, into large one-off custom-made plaster molds.
 
Brown creates her multi-part molds by carving a Styrofoam core for her sculptural work; she then covers the figurative Styrofoam sections with fine clay. She does this to create some detail in the works but the clay also works as a release agent for the plaster. 
 

 


 Go figure!

In Ceramics and the Human Figure, Edith Garcia leads you through some of the most cutting edge facets of the medium as she explores the work and techniques

of some of the world’s top sculptural artists.

Read more and download an excerpt!


 

She seals the Styrofoam with shellac to protect it from the clay's moisture.

After she has finalized her clay sections she creates her multi-piece molds by placing shims around the edges of each piece — this allows her to create two-part molds for each section. After the creation of the plaster molds on the clay-covered Styrofoam, she is then able to remove the clay/Styrofoam core and allow the plaster sections to dry.

 

Within a few days, Brown can roll out clay slabs then pressmold them into the dry plaster sections.

 

After allowing the clay to become leatherhard, she is able to assemble her pieces.

 

 

 

 

Click to enlarge images!

 

Brown covers the Styrofoam core with a fine clay and places it on plinths to raise it slightly above the table.

The clay-covered leg is sectioned off with the use of metal shims to create an outer edge for the plaster mold.

 

Brown builds up the edge of the shims with clay to ensure that the plaster stays on top of the clay piece as it sets.

 

The first part of the plaster mold has set and she is able to remove the metal shims on the legs. She then adds a clay wall to the edge of the plaster mold as well as a releasing agent such as soap.

 

Brown allows the mold to dry in the sun and begins the process of press molding clay. After the clay has hardened to a semi-hard state, she joins the two sections using slip.

 

The sculpture is painted with a white vitreous engobe and placed in a kiln in sections and fired to 1000 degrees celsius. Then it is painted with colored englobes, oxides and dribbles of clear glaze, then refired to 1180 degrees celsius

 

 

In the completion of her works, she fires them to Cone 04 and finishes the surface with the application of watercolor-like underglazes. In this way, she is able to create surfaces that have a subtle yet beautifully-layered, transparent quality.

 

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.

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