One of the best things about gathering for a learning coop is meeting new and interesting people, and this spring we were fortunate to meet homeschooling dad and local artist Matt Wedel who - gasp - makes his living as a sculptor! He generously invited our group to his home and studio for a field trip a few weeks ago. After greeting us with a wonderful talk about how he is lucky enough to get paid to do something he really loves to do (it was as much a pep talk for the grown-ups as the kids), he took us through his barn-sized studio.
|Large heads awaiting painted faces|
Matt works BIG. Big heads, big bodies, big "flower trees". His studio and kilns are built to accomodate size. Wet clay is so heavy that only a couple of inches can be added at one time, so he has several pieces in the works at any one time.
The kids loved being in the studio; they were so careful around the fragile, unfired pieces. Me, I would have been a wreck with 20-some young kids and their parents wandering through my works of art, but Matt embraced their enthusiasm and didn't seem to worry at all.
|Gold glaze is expensive and a bit risky, |
as it will disappear if left in the kiln too long
The glaze room looked like an apothocary or a wizard's potion room with its bins of minerals and compounds.
After seeing where the clay is mixed and where the sculptures are built, we saw the huge kilns that are used to fire the large sculptures.
|glaze cones for the kiln indicate the temperature|
When the tour was finished, Matt gave each kid a flat round of clay and a simple form to use to make a mask.
We pinched, rolled, and learned to reshape the rounds...
At some point in the summer they'll be fired in the kilns and returned to us, transformed!