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Building upstanding reliefs with clay and liquid clay: Greetje van den Bos describes Rob Hendriks' method for making sculpture from reliefs.

ROB HENDRIKS WILL EXPLAIN HIS METHOD OF RELIEF MAKING and how to construct and glue those reliefs so that they become an upstanding relief and become a sculpture. Since low reliefs are usually made on tiles, a method is used to cut out the low relief from the tile or slab and to convert it to an upstanding relief sculpture. We will also explain a method for painting a low relief with liquid slip on plaster.

A drawing is made with a pencil to the flat surface of a plate of dry plaster. It is the same plaster which is used to make moulds. Then with liquid clay slip, a model is painted into the lines of the drawing with a brush. The painting is done in layers and when a layer is dry, another layer is applied. When the complete model is dry and, sometimes with the aid of a palette knife, the model comes loose from the plaster. The relief is thin and easy to break, so the figure is turned on the plaster and the back of the thin figure is strengthened with fat clay slip. "Often I strengthen the back extra by laying a small 'thread' made from throwing clay in the wet slip." Now the thin figure made with the slip painting on plaster is much stronger.

When the figure is dry, it is glued with casting clay (or liquid clay slip) to a pile (to support the construction), so now it becomes freestanding and then the pile is fit into a wet ground plate. (The ground plate is poured with casting clay, also on a flat plaster surface.) Because the work is thin, on the backside of the work, layers of casting clay and small thread-like pieces of throwing clay (piles) are attached to strengthen the piece.

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A variant on this method is sliptrailing on plaster. With a fine slip applicator (see picture number 6) accurate liquid modelling work is possible, comparable with the work done with fine modelling tools or brushes. With a slip-trailing bulb, slip is 'painted on plaster' in a pencil outlined plaster area and when the slip is dry it is loosened from the plaster (sometimes with a little help of a palette knife). With a ground plate and a pile the slip-trailed decoration can be made upstanding and stable. (Often it must be strengthen from the backside with casting slip and small piles or thread like pieces of throwing clay.)

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(Another method of making a relief is by tracing a drawing or a print to a rolled slab of clay instead of painting with liquid clay).

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When a rolled clay slab is in an early leather-hard stage, a print or a drawing can be laid over it and with a pencil or modelling tools the drawing can be traced on to the clay. When removing the drawing after tracing, a sort of sgrafitto in the clay occurs. This sgrafitto can be further modelled easily into a relief by laying a sheet of transparent plastic (for example the plastic that is used for deep freeze bags) over the clay and working further with modelling tools and/or by adding layers of liquid slip to raise the model. When ready the relief is cut out of the slab with a knife. The relief is glued to a pile and the pile is attached to a poured (on plaster) wet ground plate. Now the upstanding relief is stable.

Any sort of building can be made but also figures and other forms. Needed are: The building stones, casting clay or liquid clay, a pile or frame, a ground plate. The building stones are thin and can be made in different ways. One good way is to paint a layer of casting clay to a sheet of paper. When the casting clay has dried, it breaks easily into individual stones. (To hasten drying time; the sheet with the casting clay can be heated for example in the kitchen oven.) Casting clay (or liquid clay) is used to attach (glue) the stones to a pile or frame. The pile or frame is made by hand from throwing clay.

"The ground plate is easy to make and I start with it. I pour casting clay (sometimes with grog, depending on the size of the work) on a plate of plaster. In the wet clay, I set up the pile or frame (made from throwing clay), then the stones, which I first moisten, are attached to the pile with casting clay."

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"Often I apply layers of casting clay or liquid slip or extra piles on the back side of the work to strengthen thin parts. On top of these layers I put a finish, such as a vitreous engobe or a glaze."

Rob Hendriks and Greetje van den Bos are potters in the Netherlands. Their website is http://www.reliefs.nl.
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Author:van den Bos, Greetje
Publication:Ceramics Technical
Date:Nov 1, 2011
Words:824
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