These are three examples of the seven rabbits I made during the Hungary 2009 Summer Study Abroad with KCAI. Each piece was based on a character from the novel Watership Down, by Richard Adams. Each character acts as a window into the human soul, and their individual traits either help or hinder the survival of the species.
Cowslip represents cunning and deception, and he is the reason for the deaths of many innocent rabbits. The gold luster accents his deceptive nature. He is strong, and sleek in appearance, but lazy and arrogant in his demeanor.
This piece has recently been accepted to the NCECA 2010 National Student Juried Exhibition, and will be in Philadelphia in April 2010 for the NCECA Conference.
The Thorah is the Chief Rabbit of the Sandleford Warren. When warned that the warren is going to be destroyed, he does nothing, and refuses to listen. His indolence and sloth are responsible for the deaths of many.
This piece is currently on display at the KCAI Northland Campus for Continuing Education.
Nildrohane is a victim of Cowslip’s deception. She is young, beautiful, and adored by her mate Strawberry. She is taken by a snare, and lost forever to the wires. I chose to china paint viens on this particualar rabbit, emphasizing the pain the character endured. When caught by a snare, the wire lacerates the neck of the animal, causing it to bleed to death.
This past summer I had the privilage of making work at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. Here are some images of the rabbits in process. All were made using Herend porcelain slip, which came from the Herend Porcelain Factory in Hungary.
My goal in Hungary was to learn more about slipcasting pieces, and gain experience using the translucent porcelain from Herend. I first made a clay original rabbit in Kansas City. There it was cut apart, cast in a dental alginate, and then cast in urethane rubber. I transported the rubber rabbit parts to Hungary to be cast in plaster.
This is an image of the ears being cast. I made a gang mold of two sets of ears, one set was to be open and alert, and the other set could be closed and folded. The rubber ears were first clayed up to enable the casting of one side.
Once one side of the ears is cast, the other side can be poured to complete the mold. I followed this process for the other parts of the rabbits as well. By casting their legs, ears, and bodies seperately frome eachother, I was able to attach the parts in different ways, giving each rabbit an individual pose from the original.
The body and head of the rabbits were cast seperatly from the legs and ears to simplify the mold. By doing this, the mold for the body was only five pieces.
Molds were also made of each individual leg, so that the legs could be altered in the wet state to accomidate different poses. Here you see the hind legs of the rabbit being set up for the next piece of the mold to be poured.
Here are some images of the rabbits in wetwork. After the assembly of the legs, body, and ears, the pieces are sculpted as individuals, and given different poses. Herend porcelain slip is pink before firing, and after the bisque, it turns white.
Many rabbits had parts that would have fallen or slumped in the wet state. I used clay and foam supports to hold them up while the wetwork was completed. Each rabbit dried on a plaster slab, which slowly drew moisture from the clay.
After the bisque firing, the rabbits were each sanded, and smoothed. Then, each rabbit was painted or sprayed with slips and glazes for the glaze firing. After the glaze firing some rabbits were china painted, or lustered and then fired to a lower temperature.
My experiences in Hungary were nothing short of life-changing. The pieces I made there are pieces that I can never make again. Each rabbit is a character that I know and love, and realizing them in clay has made all the difference to me as an artist.