Thursday, February 12, 2009

Furled Bark Sculptures

Perhaps you remember my previous post about faux bois, false wood. I've been working on some more sculptures with a woodland theme. I am also continuing my experimentation with mason stains. This time I'm using them full strength rather than mixing them with slip. I am, however, diluting the stains with water so I can paint, rub, and incorporate them into the clay.

I've made three Furled Bark Sculptures which were inspired by eucalyptus bark litter I observed walking through a grove at the ocean around the holidays. I've mixed the mason stain with water and I am hoping to fire these without any glaze and let the stain be the only colorant. I think I diluted the stain a little too much on the last one. I am finding I need a scrap piece of clay nearby to test the intensity of the mason stain, before I put it directly on the sculpture.

I like the color on the first one best, especially the dark outer bark which contrasts nicely with the inside. I think I will add more color to the outside of the other two tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to add it without ruining them. I really find I can 'see' the work much better if I photograph it and look at it later. I just noticed these three sculptures look very similar, I want to work on making future ones more random, which was my original intent.

Tomorrow I plan on making a few tiles to do some more experimenting with various methods of staining the clay to compile results for future use. My previous sculptures are quite dry now and I am hoping to bisque them within the week to see the results. Then in a week or so I will bisque these bark sculptures along with the test tiles I'll be making. I know I'm probably doing this backwards, but sometimes I just can't wait to try something. So I am considering these Furled Bark Sculptures rather large test tiles.


  1. Is it a compliment if I say these look as if they were picked up right out of the woods! I love wood and trees and leaves- these are great.

  2. Wow... my whole idea of what a test tile looks like just changed. Am looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

  3. Hi Meredith, yes that is a compliment, thank you so much, I am going to try and make some more but more gnarly looking.

    Hi Amy, I usually try to make my test tiles with a little texture, but eucalyptus bark is smooth. I might have to try some willow bark next. I can't wait to fire these either to see what the color does.

  4. Oh, my gosh Linda, these look so real!
    Some artists in Alaska like to replicate Birch bark in paintings, raku etc. I think Nature's textures can be so inspiring.

  5. When I walk in the park i see this bark everywhere and have often thought they would make good subject for some interesting work. I like what you are doing with them. Have fun exploring.

  6. Hi Gary, thanks, I am hoping they look a similar color after firing.

    Hi Cindy, thanks so much. I am trying hard to capture the reality of the bark and I am commmitted to developing a palette I like for this work.

    Hi Mary, thanks, I love walking under the eucalyptus trees, the fragrance is so wonderful. I am looking at nature in a whole new light since I've been working with what's becoming a woodland series.

  7. The way you made the bottom edges kind of curl in on themselves look like they just unfurled from the trunk. Are these stains painted or rubbed into the clay? I have that same problem with being impatient when I have an idea for something.

  8. Hi Barbara, thanks the eucalyptus bark comes off the trunk and curls up when it starts to dry. Yes, I painted some of the stain directly onto the clay and then rubbed it a bit. These are BMix. I made two more yesterday using Soldate 60 clay. I want to see how the stains react after firing on two different clay bodies.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment