Arctic Breath

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.

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