A Story Place tableau took just over two years to complete. It currently sits on an 8 x 10 foot stage in my studio in Olympia, Washington. Thirty animals and insects sit in a forest setting of plants and 6' tall trees, all listening contently to a young girl read them a story...a story about them.
Like every piece in the installation, the storybook the girl holds in her lap is constructed in clay. Here, the slabs were cradled in a custom made wooden mold for drying. After painting, photos of the girl and animals were taken and the text and photos were made into decals. These were transferred onto the pages and cover of her book.
Here, the storybooks are being individually built for the stack of storybooks which sit at the girl's feet. They were individually fired, painted and stacked for a realistic appearance.
As with all the sculptures, Beaver was handbuilt and textured in about 10 to 14 days. He air dried for six weeks before his first kiln firing. His clothes were glazed before his second firing. Afterward, acrylic washes were layered over his fur and body parts, adding realism and depth of color. (The metal eye glasses became permanent after Beaver's firings; in this picture they'd been tried on for a fitting).
Here, after re-doing his head four times to get his look just right, Pig is almost finished. Stamps were used to texture his clothes. The hair on his head was finished with a fine blade, creating his coarse, rough (but friendly) pigskin look. Pig air-dryed for eight weeks before his first firing, then his clothes were glazed and he was fired again. Final acrylic washes were layered on his fur and body parts, adding depth of color and a realistic look. Gold-leaf was applied to parts of his clothing.
Tree trunks and numerous limbs were hand-built in sections to fit into the kiln. Then they were dried, fired, and epoxied together, creating the 6 foot tall trees. Acrylic washes finished and enhanced the bark's mottled surfaces. My friend, Irene Hansen, helped make 1400 leaves and helped me attach them with copper wire. We were at this task for many, many weeks.
Her hands must show age and be relaxed with a little tension to hold a photo. After firing and several color finishes, decals made from real photos will be placed on thin squares of clay to represent family photos in her lap and hand.
Measuring for proportion is very important. Grandmother's arms and hands will need to be positioned just right so her eyes meet the photo she'll be holding in her hand.
To fit in my kiln, the grandmother was constructed in three separate parts: feet to lap, upper torso, and head. She was allowed to air-dry for eight weeks before being fired.
These next pictures are of a different project in progress called The Visitor, where a young boy will be standing next to his Grandmother looking at family photos.
Shoes and legs are the beginning of the grandmother sitting in a whicker chair. Plastic wrap keeps the clay moist so I can add more clay to develop the legs.