With the unusually cold and snowy February weather we were having in the Willamette Valley, it seemed an appropriate time to resume work on my “Four Winds” series, with – you guessed it – the Arctic Breath.
I actually made two porcelain masks. Unsatisfied with the first one, I started a larger version.The first photo shows some of the preliminary structure… the shape of the face is defined by the slab, with its heightened curvature formed by draping the slab over a slump mold. I usually roll and tear the slab to get a more or less oval shap. I like to create an exaggerated chin and forehead by curling the top and bottom edges.
You can see that I have begun to shape the eyes and eyebrows and have added supports for cheeks, nose, and chin. At this point I got so involved in the work that I forgot to take further photos for a couple of hours.
I rotate the form as I work and, to see it from different angles, am constantly changing my stance between standing, sitting, and crouching. I don’t end up getting to do much sitting, as it turns out. I continue to add features and to smooth and define the piece. It can be a challenge to make sure it will rest against the wall with fairly flat edges. During firing, the mask will settle a bit, and the features may take on a slightly different cast.
When I finished, this face looked a little too friendly to me. I was attempting something fairly jagged, like ice, and stern, like the cold. We will see, after bisque and glaze firing, how well I succeeded, and whether or not this mask actually represents the Arctic Breath as I had imagined it.