Ceramicists Preparing Miniature Animals

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London-based ceramist born in Corfu, Greece agalis manesi69 creates his animals—recumbent hounds, vigilant rabbits—from terracotta clay pellets that he squeezes and manipulates “until a figure emerges.” His technique is centuries old majolicaIn it, he fires his creatures and then immerses them in a solution of tin oxide glass, which gives an opaque white finish. He then paints the figures with a mixture of metal oxides (cobalt, manganese, copper) that give soft but sometimes unpredictable hues after a second firing. The whole process, from shaping to drying, glazing and firing, can take more than a month for a single piece. “This,” he says, “is an extremely unforgiving process.”

But for some animal-obsessed ceramists, anthropomorphizing as a sculptural approach is an absurd (and quick) delight. Katie KimmelWith a studio in the Mojave Desert two and a half hours northeast of Los Angeles, 30, St. He draws endless inspiration from the slapstick interaction between Bernard and two Chihuahuas. Some make handmade vases with silly dog ​​faces and wall-hung baby animal figures: poodles, ducklings, pugs. Using commercial clays and glazes found in their own pottery shop in the mall, he underlines their vulgar, youthful disinterest – it only takes an hour or two to sculpt theirs.

Similarly, the 48-year-old Japanese potter Kouichi Maekawa believes that fast work creates a more spontaneous figure that captures an animal’s fast-twitch enthusiasm. At his studio in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture (he recently took over the management of the family pottery business, but spends most of his time on his own pieces), he can work almost as fast as a balloon artist at a children’s party. Using soil from a nearby mountain, still filled with bits of straw and sand, he designs figurines based on local wildlife: pigs, owls, monkeys, foxes. She polishes them with natural mineral pigments, resulting in a muted palette that contrasts with the chunky weirdness of the creatures; this is perhaps the unifying force of this new body of figurine sculptors: they are trying to make something illuminating, raw and natural. the inner life of both animals and humans. “I try to capture the moment when something is born,” says Maekawa. “Not literally, but the moment they explode into the world and introduce themselves.”

Digital technology: Maiko Ando. Photo assistant: Karl Leitz. Style assistant: James Kerr

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