Once a near perfect sphere, the piece begins to look like a solid vessel. The external design of the piece gives clues to the most symmetrical place to identify a top and a bottom. Once these are identified, a portion will be cut away from the top to form the lid. The lid formed in the Octahedral Porcelain Process is a most special piece. It serves as the gateway from the vessel's outside, impersonal convex surface into its inner, private concave cavity. In addition to its role as guardian of this inner world, it must also contribute to the overall harmony of the total work, serving to maintain the continuity of sphericity between itself and the vessel's body at both the outer and inner surfaces.

(1-3)Dividing the Sphere - Cutting away the Lid: The optimal distance from the top to the lid's rim is determined using the "Divine Proportion," approximately 1.62. This distance is measured at 12 different points evenly spaced along the sphere. The points are connected, forming a guide to cut away the section for what will be the lid. Using a narrow, sharp and long blade, the clay is carefully and accurately cut away along the line by rotating the sphere and rolling it into the blade. Once cut away, the uneven portions on the flat inner surfaces are smoothed.

The solid sphere becomes a true vessel during the excavation part of the process. During each step of the excavation, custom-made spherical tools help the artist draw out specific shapes from within the vessel. These parts are used for the flange, for the lid and for future pieces, giving birth to a new lineage of vessels. This process begins by removing a spherical core or "daughter plug" scooped gently from the heart of the sphere to become the "Daughter Sphere." Then, using slow rotational movements inside the sphere, a series of rings and buttons are carefully scooped out and removed to form the vessel's cavity, revealing in its interior walls a unique and alternate version of the symmetrical design of its outer surface. Each part removed from the vessel is saved and used in palettes and design elements for the next generation of vessels.

(4-6) Excavation: A circular template marks a circle with a 3.5 cm diameter on the flat surface of the larger piece. A shallow circle is inscribed into the clay along the template's circumference. Using a measuring spoon with a circular lip with a diameter approximately equal to the inscribed circle, the spoon is slowly and carefully turned several times removing a "plug" from the center of the body. The removed sphere-like plug will form the "daughter sphere" for the piece.

(7-9)Removing the Lid's Flange: Another circular template is used to measure and score a shallow cut line into the clay approximately one cm from the rim of the body. Using the narrow tip of a thin bladed cutting tool, the clay is cut to a depth of about 0.5 cm. The bent end of a bendable fettling knife is inserted into the cut line to a depth of about two to three cm. The handle is then rotated toward the outer edge of the rim, its tip breaking the inner surface of the cavity and protruding into it. A cylinder-like structure is cut away from the interior.

(10-12)The cylinder-like structure is carefully removed from the cavity, taking care not to allow cracks or distortion to occur. A measuring spoon tool is used to scoop out button-like shapes from the center of the body. These scrap pieces will be used in mother lodes or other work. Taking care not to distort the design, "ring-like" clay parts are then cut away from the inner cavity. The clay ring-like structure is compressed and smoothed so it can be recycled into subsequent pieces (usually of the Santa Monica Style).

(13-15) A loop tool is used to remove smaller scrap pieces until the body's wall is approximately one cm thick.Shaping the Interior & Rim Concave sphericalizer tools of various sizes are used to scrape away some of the softer clay from within the cavity. Shavings are recycled directly into other work or saved to use in medium slip. A compressor tool is used to gently compress the still plastic clay cavity by about one mm.

(16-18) Using a circular motion, the thick rim of a shot glass (convex sphericalizer tool) is used to smooth the entire surface of the sphere. Flattening the Base & Identifying the Piece: The body's bottom is trimmed flat, sanded to smoothed, and compressed. The signature, date and a Greek letter are inscribed on the bottom to identify the piece. The same Greek letter is also inscribed on the lid's rim to mark it as belonging to the body.

The final shaping process brings the finished vessel to life. It represents the last stage of refinement during which the vessel will achieve its true character, form a relationship to its lid and reveal the final embedded design elements of its exterior and interior surfaces. This labor-intensive part of the process involves extensive refinement of the shape and conditioning of the clay itself; therefore, a great deal of controlled time is required. The clay's life moisture must be conserved. The desert is hot, the air is dry, and the journey, long. Let us now move to the next stage: Stage 6: Fitting the Lid.

Conceptualization Fabrication Equilibridization Sphericalization Sculpting Lid Fitting Drying Firing




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