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The making of my big fish

For the month of July (2021) I had an installation in Waterloo, in front of City Hall. This was in celebration of Canada Day. My installation was called 'riding the waves' and had to do with how we, at that point in the pandemic, were all like fish out of the water, trying to find our way back.

This project was made with support of the City of Waterloo (Create Waterloo) and a lot of help from my friends at the Waterloo Potter Workshop.

I made five big fish for this installation. The size and limited time made this project quite challenging.

Paper resist and coloured slips on leather hard fish

-left, finished fish installed

I started with deciding on the sizes, I was restricted by the size of the kilns available as I wanted to make them in one piece. All five fish were made with the red stoneware sculpture clay by PSH (cone 6). I love the ease of this clay, it builds up fast and holds it shape well. It is a bit messy due to crumbles of clay ending up everywhere, not sure why or how but I suspect the grog content has to do with this.

base for fish sculpture

Starting with a big slab, smaller than the final footprint so there is room to expand and give volume.

From here I start building up the form with strips of clay, about 3/4cm thick. Making sure to build supporting strips/ walls as well.

First 2 layers of strips or flat coils.

I would build 2-4 layers per day depending on humidity, or on how fast it would firm up. One fish would take 5-10 days from slab to finished fish. The painting with coloured slips and paper resist come later as I wait till the piece is very firm leatherhard. The slips introduce quite some moisture again which might compromise the structure when done too soon.

More strips added after scoring with a serrated rib

Almost closed the form here, making sure the support 'ribs' follow all the way up

In between sessions the fish rests covered with some fabric and plastic so it doesnt dry to fast but still gets firmer

I keep working at it from different angels, turning it every now and then

Getting a black underglaze wash after her bique firing

After bisque (06) the fish gets a wash of black underglaze to bring out the textures, this is sponged off a little to highlight and after this it gets a coat of clear glaze and will be fired again, this time to cone 6.

The installation seen from a distance

And the same fish as we come closer


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