Like a Rock


I finished making my red earthenware rocking chair today for ArtPrize. I’m really excited about this event that takes place September 23-October 7 in Grand Rapids, MI. It’s the first year this event has been held and it’s bound to be interesting!

I decided to refocus on my chair development because I figured if I wanted to win $250,000 I had to come up with something thought provoking. My idea (still evolving) is to make a ceramic chair that looks like wood but isn’t. I’m also making three porcelain toy trucks that will have gold luster on them and sit atop a purple velvet pillow. My thought process is that the economic downturn(manufacturing in the auto industry) in Michigan has been substantial and that the old(rocking chair) way of doing things (working for Ford, GM, Chrysler,) is over.

I sketched out my idea and went on the hunt for the perfect rocking chair.
I found this in my parents attic! It was my great grandmothers and is a great piece to influence my design.

I’ve been making clay chairs since 2002 and have blown them up in the kiln, dropped them, practically own stock in all the major glue companies, and keep asking for punishment. I’ve been told that there are easier ways to make chairs. I don’t like taking the easy way.

After I find a chair to base my structure on I start making templates, like this one for the seat of the chair.
The holes in the newspaper are where I will place the uprights of the chair and also the supports for the arm rest. Typically, I would make all those pieces with an extruder but since my studio is about the size of a postage stamp I am the queen of coils. I rolled all these pieces.Next, I worked on the slap for the backrest. I try to keep everything proportional and life-size!
After that I made the arm rests and also the slides for the rocking chair. I have learned from past experiences that when you are working with thick slabs of clay it is better to put holes in it to prevent any explosions in the kiln. 🙂When all the pieces are finished I fit them together as if the chair were fired. I don’t fire all the pieces together because there would be some nasty warping. I reassemble the chair after the glaze firing, but here is a dry run of the clay pieces.
You can see the progression of the armrest above and below that is the base of the rocking chair inverted. I made two of these chairs just in case and now have to wait for the pieces to dry before I can bisque fire. The piece needs to go up for ArtPrize September 21.

Plenty of time.

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