François Auguste René Rodin November (1840 – 17) was a French sculptorgene rally considered the founder of modern sculpture. He was schooled traditionally and took a craftsman-like approach to his work. Rodin possessed a unique ability to model a complex, turbulent, and deeply pocketed surface in clay. He is known for such sculptures as The Thinker, Monument to Balzac, The Kiss, The Burghers of Calais, and The Gates of Hell.
Many of Rodin’s most notable sculptures were criticized as they clashed with predominant figurative sculpture traditions in which works were decorative, formulaic, or highly thematic. Rodin’s most original work departed from traditional themes of mythology and allegory. He modeled the human body with naturalism, and his sculptures celebrate individual character and physicality. Although Rodin was sensitive to the controversy surrounding his work, he refused to change his style, and his continued output brought increasing favor from the government and the artistic community.
From the unexpected naturalism of Rodin’s first major figure – inspired by his 1875 trip to Italy – to the unconventional memorials whose commissions he later sought, his reputation grew, and Rodin became the preeminent French sculptor of his time. By 1900, he was a world-renowned artist. Wealthy private clients sought Rodin’s work after his World’s Fair exhibit, and he kept company with a variety of high-profile intellectuals and artists. His student, Camille Claudel, became his associate, lover, and creative rival. Rodin’s other students included Antoine Bourdelle, Constantin Brâncuși, and Charles Despiau. He married his lifelong companion, Rose Beuret, in the last year of both their lives. His sculptures suffered a decline in popularity after his death in 1917, but within a few decades his legacy solidified. Rodin remains one of the few sculptors widely known outside the visual arts community.
Raku is a low-fire ceramic technique that was developed in the 16th Century in Japan. In using this technique, a bisque fired piece is coated with a low-firing Raku glaze. The best clay to use for Raku is WSO, while B-Mix or Porcelain should not be used.
As can be seen from the pictures, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of Raku
glazes to choose from. The Raku glazes are found on a shelf in the special Raku
cabinet in the back of the room between the glazing area and the lunch room. The Raku
glazes are thick and are applied with a brush. Once the glaze is applied, the bottom of
the piece needs to be cleaned just as with the other Cone 10 glazes in the Studio.
Once the bottom is cleaned, the piece is placed in the Raku cabinet. There is an as
needed special firing for Raku pieces. During this firing process, the glaze melts,
creating a glowing piece that is removed from the kiln with special tongs.
In our Studio the American Raku method is used. This process was developed in the
1960s by Paul Soldner, and uses a metal, non-combustible container filled with organic
materials. Upon removal from the kiln that was fired to a bright, red heat of 1800
degrees, the piece is then quickly placed into a container of newspaper and is tightly
covered. This smoking “reduction” atmosphere changes metallic oxides into a brilliant
luster. The change in temperature causes the glaze to crackle in abstract patterns. The
results are never totally predicable, making each piece truly unique. Try this wonderful
process and prepare to be dazzled!
Thanks to Sabine Stadler Bayless, Richard Moren and Ron Spencer for their input into this article.
Portions of the article were found in a previous P & S Newsletter.