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Contemporary clay sculpture is perhaps the most diverse range of sculpture in existence, perhaps because clay has been used to make art objects longer than any other material. In Contemporary Clay Sculpture: Modern Ceramic Sculpture as Narrative, Object, and Decor, we present four artists who approach clay with different messages through diverse techniques: Scott Ziegler’s highly detailed ceramic sculptures with intricate glazing details; Joseph Pintz’ bold clay sculptures of plain and ordinary objects; Lydia Thompson’s slip cast and handbuilt ceramic wall art; and Magda Gluszek working from a small maquette to a large, highly decorated ceramic figure. Whether you’re investigating large or small scale forms, discovering new designs or techniques for your own ceramic art, or just want some new sculpture ideas to add to your repertoire, Contemporary Clay Sculpture provides an excellent resource.


Here’s an example of what you’ll find inside this great free resource:


Scott Ziegler’s Highly Detailed Ceramic Sculptures

by Julie Murphy


Originally, Scott fired his work in gas kilns, soda kilns and salt kilns using traditional cone 9/10 glazes, but because of the inconsistent results these glazes produced, they weren’t practical for the detailed work he was interested in creating. He experimented with a variety of low-fire materials (cone 018-01), including underglazes, glazes and lusters, drawn to them because of the wide range of vivid colors available. The low-fire materials met his expectations, producing consistent results and allowing him to be more precise. He began using them exclusively.


But in his quest for control over his art, he eventually revisited his glazes. While pleased with the colors, stability and level of detail he was able to achieve, the porous low-fire materials he had been using were attracting fingerprints, smudges and dirt – highly undesirable effects when work is designed to engage the viewer, draw them in and encourage them to interact with it. Ziegler began looking for commercially available, alternative glazes and tested numerous options, but none met his needs. Frustrated with the lack of options, he investigated making his own cone 6 underglazes and glazes. After months of testing, he started using commercial stains mixed with slip. He applied it to his pieces in the same way he had been using the low-fire underglazes and lusters, and was able to achieve the same results with none of the limitations. He was also able to produce a wider range of colors than ever before.


“When my work is bone dry,” he explains, “I use a variety of grades of sandpaper to smooth out imperfections. After it is completely smooth, I begin to lay in my color. I create my own colored slips by adding different percentages of commercial stains to the same porcelain clay body used for my pieces, adding water until they become quite fluid. If I am trying to achieve a translucent effect, these thin layers are mostly water with just a small percentage of colored slip. However, if I am trying for a more opaque surface, I add enough water to the colored slip so I have a fluid brush coat. It’s generally not wise to add wet clay to bone-dry clay, because it will crack off, but since the clay in the slip is really just an agent for binding color onto the surface, I can get away with applying many thin layers.That is the trick, but the process is very time consuming. Each area requires three to four brush coats per color. When all the color has been applied, I’m finally able to bisque fire the piece. For the glaze firing, I add glossy and matt glaze and fire to cone 6.”


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Ceramic sculpture by Joseph Pintz

The Everyday Clay Sculptures of Joseph Pintz
by Casey Ruble


On the other end of the ceramic sculpture spectrum is Joseph Pintz and his simple yet elegant clay sculptures –
some in the form of utilitarian items and some duplicating common ordinary objects. Pintz carves away the clay to
get the effect he needs and his application of simple underglazes further adds to the honest quality of the work.



Ceramic Wall Sculpture by Lydia Thompson

The Ceramic Wall Art of Lydia Thompson
by Glen Brown


Lydia Thompson’s message is for us to see opposites around us in her work: purity and corruption, beauty and
evil, attractiveness and repugnance. Through her use of white slip forms and handbuilt earthenware holders, she
uses opposing techniques that contrast light and dark, earthenware and porcelain in her ceramic wall sculptures.



Ceramic sculpture by Magda Gluszek

The Ceramic Art Sculptures of Magda Gluszek
by Magda Gluszek


Madga’s clay sculptures investigate ideas about consumption, self-preservation, and societal behaviors versus
animalistic impulses. Her ceramic technique is to build a form out of solid clay then hollow out the inside. Her use
of epoxy resins and acrylic paints allow her a great deal of flexibility for communicating through clay.


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About Ceramic Arts Daily:


Ceramic Arts Daily is a free online website and newsletter written and produced for the benefit of potters and ceramic artists worldwide. The newsletter features both renowned and emerging artists, their work, techniques and artistic perspectives. Regular features include tips and techniques designed to help every artist expand their skill set and widen their artistic horizons. Ceramic Arts Daily also delivers video tips, in which potters and ceramic artists demonstrate various projects and processes. Think of them as e-workshops!


Ceramic Arts Daily is designed to be interactive, inviting your comments and fostering a community in which each person can contribute to the growth of their own and others’ skills. You may be surprised at what you learn!


Ceramic artists on Ceramic Arts Daily know what ceramic art is all about – from functional pottery to abstract ceramic sculpture. This is about community. You’ll be drawn in by artists’ stories, inspired by their work and find confidence to try some of their techniques. With Ceramic Arts Daily, you’ll learn a little bit of everything. Then you can choose the techniques you enjoy the most to create something new!


So start today by downloading our free Contemporary Clay Sculpture: A Collection of Four of Our Favorite Articles on Contemporary Ceramic Sculpture. Then, get ready for Ceramic Arts Daily to introduce you to new artists and show you new techniques!

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