Modular construction concept in Beachfront Pottery pieces: “Ancient Manta”

Photos and text by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL 62035, USA

The Idea

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of making sculptures of ocean critters where the sculpture is reduced to the essence of the particular animal.  The series called “Out of the Deep”, and the “Ancient Shark, Ancient Whale, and Ancient Manta” are all using this approach.  Here I’ll use the example of “Ancient Manta I” to illustrate the modular construction.

The Effort and the Resulting Pieces


This is a great picture to start with. The modules for these sculptures are pinched ropes of white earthenware clay.  The clay ropes are 6-10 inches in length, and they were formed just a few minutes before an assembly.  Here they are wet, and that’s why they are dark grey.  The ropes are placed on top of each other to loosely form the shape of the animal, in this case, a manta ray.  The assembly is on a triangular bisque platter, so I can move the entire assembly for drying to a different area




Here you see the assembled ropes after the bisque firing.  The next step was to glaze each rope individually, and then the dried. glazed ropes are reassembled on top of a set of straight, 5 inch long kiln stilts. The stilts separate from the ropes relatively easily after the glaze firing, and ropes themselves are all “glued” in place by the solidified glaze.  So, after the glaze firing, the entire assembled. “glaze-glued” manta can be lifted off the stilts.




Here is the assembled and glaze-glued manta on it’s back. This was Molten Rock glaze mixed with some White Cascade glaze.  The white-looking areas on this image are reflecting the light, but they have the same brownish color as the rest of the piece.




“Ancient Manta, I” by Robert Kokenyesi, Godfrey, IL


This the final sculpture.  The essence of the manta ray, the resilience, the sturdiness, and the ability to be one with the water are coming through in this piece.


The addition of the glass sheets, and then the pigments will be detailed in a separate technical blog.






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