I just finished building large bulldog sculpture– my biggest custom sculpture to date. I took this photo with a tennis ball to give a sense of the size. I thought art appreciators might enjoy a glimpse into how this piece took shape.



Starting the Sculpture

It all started with a flattened coil onto which I added more coils and slabs to build up a hollow shape.

You can see that I used newspaper to prevent the sculpture from collapsing while still soft.

Wet paper towels kept the surface onto which I was adding coils moist.

Building Bulldog 1

Completing the Build

I mostly built with one clay type as my different colored clays shrink at different rates (a bigger problem with bigger sculptures). But I did eventually use all five of my clay colors. First up was the black nose.

Rather than build the puppy separately and place it on top I built it into the back of the larger bulldog for added sturdiness.

In between work session I covered the whole sculpture with damp paper towels and then wrapped everything in plastic dry cleaning bags to keep the clay moist and workable, and to be sure all the parts dried evenly.

Building Bulldog 2

Here I am with the piece fully formed but not yet fired. This gives you a good idea of how large the sculpture is. Facebook users have already seen this one

Large Bulldogs Formed

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Firing and Coloring

Next, the sculpture dried slowly and then I somehow managed to get it into my kiln.

After the bisque firing (to 1911° F) I applied a stain, which goes on a terrible blue-green but fires black.

I wiped off the stain so it remained only in the cracks and crevices.

Building Bulldogs 3

The final firing goes to 2165°. A few finishing touches and the piece is done.

The Finished Sculpture

Large Bulldogs Finished