What clay body do you use?
"Since my work is predominantly sculpture and mostly fired in Raku, I like to use a clay body that contains a substantial amount of sand and grog. I have used Soldate from Armadillo Clays for many years, a cone 5-10 stoneware, sometimes adding even more grog wedged in. If I am looking for a pink to coral color under the clear crackle Raku glaze, I use the red Raku clay from the Ceramic Store. (See clay color variations in Images of the Window Series of raku fired clay tile works). My studio practice is also to recycle much of my scrap clay, adding oxides and redart clay to the mix."
Primary forming method?
"For sculpture, the wheel has from the beginning been the primary forming method to produce an armature. Then, either more wheel thrown forms are added on or slabs of clay which are then heavily altered by paddling. Paul Soldners work has been a strong influence in this technique. The Kabuki sculptures in the 1980s I think were the most complex.
I had been studying Japanese, had long appreciated the Japanese aesthetic of clay, and emulated the brush work in my glazing. The 'Kata' or form of the emotion expressed by the actors in the Kabuki performances challenged me to express that essence.
Another series using the altered wheel thrown form and fired in Raku, were the "Relics" Relics A, B, and C were the first in the series and were done as a commission for Ken Lay to be presented to the CEO of the Hitachi Corporation as a garden meditation piece."
But I would like to emphasize that many of my installation projects have relied on the human hand alone, to form the modules made in the hundreds. The bone simulations started in the 1990s as my writing collaborator says, I was making the bones of the Astronauts who died in the Challenger explosion. One lump of clay impressed with the left hand, wet stroked and pulled like a handle with the right, reaching the length of a child's femur, then laid down in a curve to show stress and left to dry. We were working on a collaboration project focused on that loss of life. She thought I was making the bones which (at the time) were thought to have been totally burned up. Bones had fascinated me forever; as a child performing archeological digs around my grandparents farm. Cultural practices of ancestral bone worship intrigue me. I believe like native Hawaiians, that bones are the primary physical embodiment of a person, and following death bones are considered sacred, for within the bones reside the person's spiritual essence."
Primary firing temperature?
"The stoneware white clay body fires to cone 10, but I would take it to just cone 4-5 in order to maintain a bit of porosity. The bones, when held in the hands for a minute will absorb the warmth of your body. The stoneware clay also worked well for all my Raku work because it was able to withstand the thermal shock."
Favorite surface treatment?
"Most sculpture series, whether fired at stoneware temperatures or in Raku, were sanded in the bone dry stage in order to create a sand blasted like surface. The 'Kabuki' pieces, 'The Shifting Sands' series, 'Relics', even the large Raku landscape vessels had that pitted surface. I was greatly influenced in the 1970s by Nick deVries' sculpture which rarely was glazed and always had a textured surface, emphasizing form."