Ceramic artist Theresa McCarthy Sayer uses the raku process to create delightful animal sculptures. View more of her work by visiting her website.
I’ve been an artist all my life with previous focus on graphite, pen and ink and colored pencil. I enjoyed the mediums but always felt frustrated with time spent refining sketches before beginning a final piece.
For some reason, however, my hands can throw clay on a table and come up with a three dimensional sculpture without feeling like I’ve struggled.
My need to sculpt is intense; I deeply miss my studio if I don’t visit daily. The clay calls to me. It is my inspiration.
Sculpting dogs is what I enjoy and my favorites are the bully breeds. With skin too large for their bodies, it creates interesting rolls and wrinkles for sculpting.
The bully breeds are clowns of the canine world and I want to show this in my work. My own Boxer, Riley, provides many of the poses for my dogs.
I keep a cup with dog breeds written on slips of paper. If one day I’m not feeling a dog, I reach into my cup and sculpt the breed pulled. No cheating, I must sculpt the breed. This keeps my work from becoming stale.
Most of my work is finished through the fast firing process called raku. The kiln is fired very quickly to about 1800o. The sculpture is pulled immediately and placed in a chamber with combustible material like paper.
The flames dance around the sculpture for a brief time before being choked out and allowed to cool. My small glaze palette gives me a large range of finishes. The same glaze may produce a golden brown, hard green or flashing that ranges from purple to copper. No piece is ever the same, which is both fun and frustrating.
I want people to smile, laugh and even pet my sculptures. It does not bother me if someone calls my work cute or adorable. I enjoy watching people light up when they see my work and start talking about their own pets. I love it when my work reminds someone of an animal they love.
I’ve no idea how long the dog series will last because I venture into other areas often, but I do know sculpture won’t leave me. I’m thankful every day I’ve been given the opportunity to sculpt. I’m thrilled knowing my work resides in homes throughout the country.