And so on August 12th, with a 25-pound bag of red clay and a quickly put together round table and stool, I made an armature out of a pipe flange attached to a lazy susan, with a fabric-covered pipe extending from the center. I began to roll some long clay snakes on the tiny table top. I thought it would be easiest to make a coil sculpture since I had such a small space to make it in.
After I had enough snakes, I started forming the basic structure. Round and round the snakes go, using the same overlapping technique that one might use on a pie crust edging.
After an hour or so, the body was taking shape. I made some cross-members to keep the body from expanding too much. I had forgotten my paddles and had to beat and compress the sides with my hands and the water bottle. You can see the overlapping techniques on the top two rows. I also used a metal rib to compress the clay and as the clay dried I was able to use the serrated side of the rib to make a cool texture on the clay. That action served to flatten out the walls of the trunk. Because I spent a bit of time talking with customers and other artists from 5-8 PM, I did not have time to make her head while still at the gallery.
So . . . when I returned home I made a flattened piece of clay, slightly curved at the edges. I accentuated the breasts then cut out an interesting triangle area in the middle of the chest. You tell me what that is for . . . After drying a couple of days, I had to decide what colors to glaze the body. I wanted it to be special for this special fundraiser but did not want the glaze to obliterate the linen-like textural quality of the skin.
So I chose red and black iron oxide brushed on, then wiped off, with a touch of diluted clear glaze over the top to make the natural color of the red clay shine through. But I also wanted a bit of "flavor" so I painted several purple spiral-esque tattoos on her back and the neck. Then into the firey kiln (yes, she was only fired once).
I knew I should have made an egg shape for the head! But I didn't and the head ended up taking me much longer than making the whole body! I ended up welding some steel pieces together, wiring and and attaching them to the clay head. This structure also served to balance the body so it wouldn't tip over.
I wanted the face to have a different sheen than the body so I used acrylics to make her look contented. Sparkle in her eyes. Funky hair of reds, browns and oranges, with a same color bra edged in brown leather. What do her eyes see? What is she smiling about?
And the finishing touch is a necklace that reflects the joyful turquoise and red colors in the tile on which she sits. What's in a name? Everything. I polled my Facebook Friends to help me come up with a name. The perfect name came in after I had delivered her to Helen Plenert, the director of the Women's Wisdom Project: "The Girl from Ipanema" - beautiful brown skin, sitting on ocean colors, skimpy bra top, sun-kissed hair. And my dad's second favorite song in the world.
And I hope she finds the perfect home as a result of the 20th Street Gallery fundraiser, because the money she brings in could help disadvantaged women learn about breast health, as well as learn that they are beautiful, no matter what their present circumstance or malady. I want women to have the hopeful outlook represented in the face of the "Girl from Ipanema."