The trials of designing a support for Beachfront Pottery ceramic sculptures, Part 2.

Reported by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA.

A few months ago I posted a blog about the trials of creating a stable support for the small sculptural pieces I have been making at Beachfront Pottery. The first post included the attempt to place the sculpture into the gripping prongs of the spider mount, and that was followed by the description of the attempt to affix the sculpture to the spider mount by using Velcro.  Neither of those methods gave me the stability that I wanted.

I need to find a solution soon.   I am gathering a large number of ideas to express the minimal essence of sharks, whales, manta rays, moray eels, and other critters.  All those small sculpture plans will go up in smoke if I don’t have a sturdy way to support the sculpture.  For some reason these sculptures need to appear elevated off the surface, and that means designing an appropriate supporting structure.

In this blog I’ll be reporting on the initial experiments with a conical support that secures the sculpture through a concrete core.  The idea is that a ceramic cone provide the stability, and the sculpture is resting securely on the cone, because the sculpture has a concrete rod that enters into the cone from the top.  I guess, this is where pictures would be helpful.








Above is one of the prototypes of the “Ancient Shark” sculpture series.  To the right is the ceramic cone that is the general idea for the support.


Here is the underside of the prototype sculpture with that concrete core (the grey chunk with the ragged upper edge) that fits into the opening of the cone.




So, let’s make the cone first.

What I did is to shaped a clay sheet as follows.

On the left is my plastic cone template.  I cut a piece of paper along the outer surface of the cone, and the used that piece of paper to trace that shape on a rolled out sheet of clay (paper on top of the clay sheet on the right).




On the left is the sheet of clay folded back onto the cone.  On the right you see the greenware of the conical clay.






Next, let’s pour the concrete core.

I took a paper tube (core of a roll of toilet paper) and shaped it to be the right diameter, and secured it with white duct tape.  To the bottom of this tube I taped a thin plastic bag (full view on the left).  Once I poured the concrete into the tube, the wire ring kept the tube from changing shape, but allowed the plastic bag to expand and fill the nooks of the bottom side of the sculpture (close up on the right).

I tried two kinds of concrete.  The bagged Quickrete (on left) didn’t work, because it never set (it may have gotten moist).   The Quickrete in the plastic bin (on right) worked great.





On the left you see the set concrete piece bearing the imprint of the bottom of the sculpture shown on the right.  I used a two-component epoxy glue to affix the concrete piece onto the perfectly matching portion of the sculpture.  The end result is the seen at the top of this blog.



When you put the two together:

Once you insert the concrete core into the ceramic cone, you get this:


The sculpture is now resting on the ceramic cone support, and the sculpture is secure, because shaking, bumping the sculpture can’t dislodge the concrete core from the cone.





I attempted to replace this very laborious concrete pouring process with a simple one.  That simple alternative was air-dry clay.  I pressed the air-dry clay into the grooves on the bottom of the sculpture, and then air-dried the clay.


This air-dry clay on the left gave me a perfect imprint.  The dried clay, however was very brittle, and crumbled easily.  When I inserted this piece into the ceramic cone, the air-dried clay lost chunks from the edges.  It seems that at this time it’s better to go with the concrete.



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