In this post I want to talk more about the clay pieces I made for the mural.
Once Carrie presented me with the working ideas for the mural I began design of the large humming birds which would hover around her abstract flower. They needed to be two to three feet in height and width so they could be seen when pedestrians and car traffic approached the building. At this size the birds would need to be cut in pieces so they would not warp or crack and also so they would fit in the kiln. Being in pieces they reflected the mosaic process on the rest of the building.
I made small cartoons (outline drawings) of humming birds in several positions. Once Carrie chose the ones she thought would work best I increased their size by using a grid where each one inch square of the small design became a four inch square, taking the size from six to nine inches the needed size of two to three feet.
I then rolled slabs of clay large enough to accommodate the large cartoon. I laid it over the clay and traced it, making an indentation on the clay beneath.
Next I cut away the excess clay but left the bird in one piece while I decorated it by adding clay design and impressing other design with stamps. At this point I cut the bird into pieces, keeping the design elements intact.
After drying the pieces between pieces of drywall to a leather hard stages I smoothed edges and let the pieces dry then bisqued fired them to vitrify the clay so glazes and under glazes could be applied. They were then refired to a temperature of 1888 degrees (or cone 06) to let the glazes adhere to the clay.
In this same manner I designed a series of buds and flowers of the “self heal” plant which would go on the lower part of the mural on either side of the doorway.
Once the mural cartoon and mesh were laid out on the floor of Happy Box Architecture these larger tiles were put into place and the smaller mosaic tiles were added to complete the more abstract elements in the design.
This final photo shows the conceptual layout in progress. It begins with the earth tones at the base, moves upward through flora and ends with the sky at the top of the mural.