There is a dragon boat race on Cuyahoga River in Cleveland in September. For that event I make whistles influenced by the dragon boat heads. This photograph shows the steps that go into thier creation.
First I make blanks. I make two pinch pots and join them trapping air inside making a clay balloon. I can alter the shape by rolling it or sqeezing gently. Then it needs to rest sometimes a day. Working with them right away is a slow process. I think of if as time for the clay to acept its new shape. Clay is just processed mountains and is no fond of being rushed.
The whistle mouth piece and hole goes in when the clay is dryer but not leather hard. At that time i add clay to form the basic features and let it rest at least a day. I think of this as sketching the ruff shapes in a picture that will later be refined into a finished painting.
When the clay is almost leather hard I can carve a more definate shape out of the ruff draft. I put in curves and valleys always keeping in mind who the whistle is. I strove toward personality and attitude. Most of all I want to express joy and the excitement in life. My creatures want to be out in the world exploring and I am ever trying to improve on that.
The forth dragon illustrates the underglaze phase and the final dragon is the finished product wit clear glsze and two fireings.
Each year I make a new group of dragons just for that race. Sort of a class of 2011 thing where I am the student and the dragons are my teacher.