My process with ceramic sculpture

In regard to ceramic sculpture, I am a hand-builder – generally using the coil method. It’s a very methodical, slow-paced way to work, and I enjoy it for those reasons. I love seeing a piece grow slowly – first as an idea in my mind, and then built layer by layer into reality.
I thought it would be fun to document how I work, and show the progression here on my blog! I recently finished building another spiky sculpture, which is drying now and waiting to be bisque fired. I used about 20 pounds of clay and built it to the height-capacity of my kiln. Take a look at the pictures below to see how I do what I do. 🙂

I start with a rolled out slab of clay, from which I cut my base shape. Then I began building up the sides using coils.

I continue to add coils to build up the walls, smoothing as I go.

I usually add about 2-3 rows of coils at a time, and then smooth them together. This slow process lets me see where my shape is going and gives me control in shaping its growth.

Here I am transitioning from a solid base shape into 5 separate arms. The cross sections inside help give the sculpture stability and strength without being visible from the outside.

The arms grow ever taller with successive rows of coils, spiraling clockwise ever so slightly.

The final form is finished! The arms are closed off at the top, each one coming to a point and almost meeting at the center.

The next step is to finish the surface with a dramatic texture of spikes. I keep the base form from drying out by spraying it periodically with water. To add the spikes, I score the clay in a pre-determined pattern where I’ll join the spikes.

To make the spikes themselves, I cut each one from a coil of clay, and then shape it into a cone.

Here is the first arm, complete with the spiky texture. The spikes add SO much to these already-interesting shapes.
(In the background you can see my rough sketches for this lovebird birdcage wall-hanging!)

Two arms down…

The final sculpture! A very cool top-view.

And here is the final sculpture, completed with spikes. The next steps are letting it dry slowly, then bisque-firing, then glazing, then high-firing for a finished work of art! (And here you get a glimpse of my dungeon-like studio space, haha. It’s not much, but I would take this setup over nothing any day!)

So there you have it! This is how I work 🙂
A sculpture like this one will take about 20 hours of work from start to final spike! That doesn’t include drying time, kiln time, or glazing time. It is a time-consuming process, but I love it, and when you have a final piece of artwork come out of that kiln, it just feels worth it! 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey, and I’ll be sure to share when the sculpture is ALL done (i.e. glazed). ^_^



Filed under Jadeflower Ceramics

8 responses to “My process with ceramic sculpture

  1. Wow…I have always had a fascination with pottery, but never really tried it. You inspired me. Great photos. Great work. God bless you.


  2. Do you have a subscribers link? I would like to see future postings from you….thanks, have a blessed day. Elena

  3. rebekkaguenther

    Hi Elena – thanks for your kind words!
    I’ve just added a ‘subscribe’ button to the right-hand toolbar, thank you for suggesting it!
    Have a wonderful day,
    Rebekka 🙂

  4. hello! so fun to see your process. thank you for sharing! i absolutely adore your ceramics. so beautiful:) xoxo, juliette

  5. Thank you for these fantastic step by step photographs – the piece looks amazing! I was looking for some really good visual instructions for a ceramics project I do with kids at a school (in Germany) – and found them on your blog. I will point them at it so they can get inspiration from your work. Eventually – but this will take some time – there will be some pictures on my blog of what the students have done. In case you fancy a peek.
    Thank you for sharing your expertise!

  6. Célia Brandão

    Fantastic work, Congrats!
    Thank you for sharing the technique.

  7. Diane

    Thank you for the step by step! I love seeing other people’s processes (and work spaces!). Your piece is really impressive – great contrasts of flowing form and sharp texture, organic yet orderly. I’d like to see how you glazed it.

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