[Clayart] old statue found

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Sat Aug 6 01:47:05 UTC 2022

> On Aug 5, 2022, at 1:17 PM, <vpitelka at dtccom.net> <vpitelka at dtccom.net> wrote:
> As I have always seen and taught it, a slip-cast object, no matter who created the handmade original and the mold, is not a handmade object. 

I once had a job (a terrible job!) - making slip-cast ware. It was a small scale factory, cranking out orders for local potteries. It was definitely handwork, judging the thickness of the casting, which would vary with the slip, the humidity, and how many times the mold had been poured that day already. We attached and assembled components that were cast separately, fettled and sponged the seams, trimmed the rims and spouts, etc.  Lots of handwork. Is the mold different from a wheel? Is it different from a wheel with a jig? Probably, yes, especially cranking out those basic forms. But is there a point at which the craftsmanship and judgement - and sheer effort - required for a complex casting makes it ‘real’ handwork? Have you seen the porcelain sculpture of Michael Jackson and ‘Bubbles’ the chimp? Larger than life-size - It is said to be the largest porcelain casting ever made. There are six in the edition, and the work involved in each of those is enormous, requiring human judgement, and it is far from mere factory production. (Jeff Koons is considered to be the artist, but the piece itself is actually signed by the Italian craftsman who executed the work.) Regardless of who gets the credit, though, and how many were produced, surely such a thing is handmade?

I have a friend who worked for years throwing pots as piecework for someone else, for a catalog. All identical, none original. Made by hand, though using a wheel and basic tools...assuredly handmade by most standards, but is this what most people think of as ‘handmade’? Is there more than the hand involved in ‘handwork'? Or is the act of fabrication all that matters to the definition?

When I worked in bronze, I did all my work myself: making the wax, the cutting, gating and investing, the burnout, pouring the metal, the de-vesting, sandblasting, welding, chasing, patina, and mounting.  Sometimes, I would make a pattern, then a mold, and use that to produce the wax. Other times, I would work the wax directly. Is the latter ‘handmade’, but the former is disqualified by the addition of the mold, which permits both production of an edition, and also may (like slip-casting) facilitate certain forms that are awkward to make directly? 

This is what I mean by saying that there is no line; only a gradient.


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