Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Aquarium caves begin to take shape...

I have at last reached the stage where I can begin to put the hoards (is that the correct collective noun?!) of ceramic caves together into a single form.  I have procrastinated quite a bit over this today!  I spent such a long time in making the caves that I was terrified it would all go horribly wrong when I came to join them together. It was a bit of a faff! As my friend, Rebecca suggested I could really have done with some help from the Blue Reef octopus tonight;  I just didn't have enough hands! I also needed to switch off gravity for a bit... (that's the force I'm talking about, nothing to do with my general outlook.)

Thankfully, things seem to have gone okay... so far...  At least they did once I got myself properly sorted with everything I needed in order to do the job.  I never seem to be properly prepared when I begin this kind of task - you'd think I'd learn (maybe I'm taking this 'thinking like a fish' business too far)! For example I hadn't really thought about how I was going to move the finished - delicate and heavy - piece from my work bench to the back of my car for transporting to the kiln.  Fortunately, I did manage to get a wooden board underneath it on completion of the first layer of caves.

The balloons idea actually turned out to be a good one.  The balloons gently support the lower caves without putting any pressure on the clay and I've blown them up so as to only just touch the inside of the ball thus allowing the clay some room for shrinkage during the building process. 

If necessary I'll let a bit more air out of the balloons as the clay shrinks although balloons always seem to shrink over time as well.  I reckon this work is going to take a lot of monitoring as it dries.  There are good few stress points to keep an eye on.

I managed to get up to the third level of large caves tonight and then I'd had enough!  Each of these caves has a passage way to the one at the side or above/below it, thus fish can swim between them.  I've varied the hole sizes between the caves so that some of the bigger fish will be limited to certain routes through, and the smaller fish will then get chance to zip through the entire sculpture and hide if they need to.

As I said in an earlier post, this particular work is really great fun to make.  There's something very appealing about making something I know will be used by an animal or two!  I hope to have the piece finished by the end of tomorrow.  Will report back on further progress later...


  1. Love them - I wish , I wish I was a fish in a fishy mansion!!! OK, OK so all this freedom is leading to a significant degree of regression........ Jxx

  2. How did you make them? Did you use coils and smooth out or daubs of clay onto balloons.please share your technique. The shapes are lovely