Clay sculpture for firing
Artist Lorna Graves made a number of animal sculptures in clay inspired by the landscape of Cumbria where she lived. They are modern but still look like they could have been found in an ancient burial mound. To make clay sculpture that will fire successfully in a kiln without exploding you need to follow a few simple rules. Have a go at making a simple animal sculpture by following our simple steps.
Give your class the opportunity to work in exactly the same way as Lorna Graves by watching the videos below.
Key Stage:KS 3&4 Art and Design
Overview:This lesson plan can be used:
To start a sculpture project.
To develop ideas and understanding of processes and materials.
As part of study of any artist using armature building or modelling in their work.
As part of individual study
Sculptor Lorna Graves
Born in Kendall, Lorna Graves grew up on farms in Cumbria and her preoccupation with the landscape and heritage of the area lasted her whole life. Although she did move away to study when she became a full time painter and sculptor she soon returned to Cumbria. Her ceramic animals have a quality that looks like they could have been found in a bronze age tomb and it is no coincidence that she was fascinated by stone circles and ancient burial sites.
Raku fired ceramics
Lorna Graves ceramic sculptures were fired using the Japanese Raku technique. A coarse rough clay is worked to make the animal sculpture which is then fired in the kiln. When the clay is still very hot it is laid in leaves, twigs, wood-shavings which catch fire producing smoke and ash which becomes embedded within the body of the sculpture and produces the unique finish.
Ceramic animal forms by Lorna Graves
Lorna made a number of apparently simple ceramic animal sculptures but they have the quality of objects found in an ancient tomb and they make you want to touch them. This sheet shows some of her sculptures to inspire you to make your own mythical animal.
Download lorna graves image sheet.pdf
Making a clay animal for firing
This short time-lapse video shows the making of a basic animal form in clay. We are using Raku clay which is quite coarse as this helps avoid cracks and explosions in the firing. If you are not going to fire your animal sculpture you do not need to be so careful in hollowing out the centre of the sculpture and can use a finer clay.
This is a low cost workshop that anyone can try by watching the video a few times and seeing how the artist works. If you follow our top tips you should have success.
The work of Lorna Graves in Tullie House, Carlisle
Find out more about the art of Lorna Graves by watching his short film. It shows young people finding out about a sculpture called Animal (Mended) and interviewing a curator from Tullie House who look after her collection.