Saturday, February 13, 2010

Simple Trust

This church was restored by the local community of Toyahvale, Texas. We took a photo of the exterior, expecting the church to be locked. But we were wrong; the door had a magnet to keep it from opening in the wind. We were happy to be trusted to go in the church and see the simple interior.

I have 25 pounds of this sculpture clay which has large hunks of beige grog in it. Working with this clay is a real challenge. What can I do with clay that's so rough and has so much grog in it? Why did I even get this clay. If I had known in advance what it was like I never would have purchased it.

Since I have the clay, I'll have to use it. So, I decided to pinch some forms, leave them rough in texture, then alter them. Since the clay texture is rough, there's no way I can change that. It isn't easy to make rough and altered pieces pleasing to my eye.

I find it much easier to make a smooth form than to make rough and altered forms. Boy what a challenge I have for myself with this 25 pounds of clay.

Working with clay I find I just need to have simple trust. Trusting I can achieve what I want if I keep trying, keep practicing.

There wasn't much decoration in the church except this painting on the wall. I'm not sure what material was used; the texture is rough and rustic, and yet there's a lot of detail. That's something I'd like to achieve with this sculpture clay. Perhaps I need to make sculptures instead of functional forms, those would look much better with this clay. I'd really like to make some buildings like this church and some mountain cabins, not sure they'd make it traveling in the motorhome. So for now I'll  make pieces that won't tip over in the motorhome. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  1. I love this church. Very much like the church in the movie Kill Bill and like my favorite Matisse painting that I saw in the Met in NY and very Georgia O'Keefe. I want to make a model of it in clay! You should use that red clay of yours and do one too. I use very groggy clay for sculpture and it is so sturdy. Use the texture to your advantage. When dry you can put a black stain wash over it to highlight the cracks. You can also use a soft rubber rib like Mud Tools to smooth that grog back in. Don't use a metal rib, it will take forever. You can also burnish it at very leather hard and some of that grog will go back into the clay body. Debra Fritts will leave her sculpture very rough and then she blobs white slip over it letting some of the roughness show through. Just look at Ron Meyers, Debra Fritts for inspiration. Their surfaces are always pretty rough but wonderful!

  2. I agree with Tracey, try out the rough groggy clay as a path to new shapes. Love the rough and see what you create. Don't try to tame it, let it be wild.Textured tile; rough faced wall hanging...
    Keep having fun, JT

  3. Sarah and I were out driving yesterday and noticed a new church in a neighboring town. It was made from the pre-fab metal buildings, with a steeple. I commented to Sarah how I hated the way it looked and how I love simple county churches built from local materials. I know that folks say that the church is made up of the people not the building. Still I just see these things and can't help but think that we are really loosing our sense of Beauty.

  4. Lucky you! I'd take that clay in a minute!! I've been using the kind of clay to do my sculptures without enough grog arrrgh! I was thinking for sure you'd be doing some sculptural pieces of that lovely little church with cut out windows -or little pueblo houses with tiny ladders in red clay that are candle holders, or your cool crosses, or.... ;o)

  5. i agree with everyone else...make house sculptures! the little church is a wonderful inspiration. your photo captures its simple beauty.

  6. Hi Tracey, thanks, I was thinking of you when I started working with this clay and thinking, Tracey would know what to do with this. It is hard to switch from one clay to another because my hands become familiar with working with one and then my hands have to learn a new clay. The black and white stains or slip sound just the ticket.

    When we went in the church and saw the light at noon shining down on the interior it was awe inspiring. Having just come from California and seeing graffite every where, we were doubly awed. sometimes the simpliest things are the best. I just played a bit with this clay and was thinking I need to let go, let this rough clay speak to me.

    Hi Joan, thanks, I was thinking along the same lines as you indicate last night. I picked up a bunch of metal artifacts at the repair shop in Texas and I have several ideas for tiles held up by heavy metal wire. things are developing in my mind and will come out very soon I am thinking (hoping).

    Hi Ron, thanks, I am drawn to both modern and rustic and can't quite come to terms or meld the two in my mind or my artistic endeavors. I have a real yin yang relationship with clay in that regards. I'm hoping I can successfully combine my feelings about the present, the past, and history into my work one of these day.

    Hi Cindy, thanks, I figured you'd like this stuff, I guess it's all in what a person is used to working with. I normally use very soft smooth clay and can get it to do what I want. Sculptural pieces I am definitely thinking of but rocking down the highway holds me back thinking I will make something really good and it will be destroyed immediately afterwards as we mosey on down the road. I am hoping to coming to grips with all this one of these day very soon.

  7. Hi Michele, thanks so much, I was actually thinking of house sculptures, but then I thought about rolling slabs out and putting them together and then Gary saying to me, are you going to turn the light out soon, very soon I will be situated in a place more than a couple of hours in the evening and will move forward in tremendous leaps and bounds. HA.

  8. If I had that clay, I would make a sculpture of that church, brush on white terra sig, bisque it, then brush on black iron oxide, wash it off and fire again. It would be beautiful! I printed out a copy of the church and put it up on my studio wall. I may just have to make one myself!

  9. Hey Tracey, maybe we'll both make one and see how they turn out and make a comparison, that would be so fun. the light on the interior was so special, and the simplicity was so wonderful, nothing much around but that church, unreal.

  10. love the georgia o'keefe glad we all get to take this trip with you! travel safe...

  11. Hi Laura, thanks, glad you're enjoying the trip, happy valentines to you and your son.


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