It’s about time I posted some details about my epic ceramic project from the winter. The process was long, there were a few bumps in the road and a few scares but I finally finished my beloved castle and it’s time to show it off!!
I have had a love for ceramics and building whatever pops into my head out of clay ever since I took a ceramics class for my elective back in 2007. There is something so relaxing and fulfilling about building something with your hands that becomes a functional/beautiful permanent thing.
My Howl’s Moving Castle project began with a love for the movie itself. When I first saw Hayao Miyazaki‘s film, I instantly fell in love with the characters and the dreamlike story. Who wouldn’t love a magical castle that transported you through dimensions?
I began the construction process by making the base of the castle and the upper part in two separate pieces so that I could make sure it was very stable and not too heavy. I planned on gluing them together after the Raku process.
I had to plan the piece very carefully so that it was not to big to fit into our Raku kiln and I also had to keep in mind that we needed to somehow pick up this molten hot piece of clay once it was done firing and move it to its reduction can. I made some handles for the sides and the back that would appear to be pipes and hopefully compliment the style of the castle. I wasn’t able to find good photos of every side of the castle to know how to accurately reproduce every detail so I pretty much made some things up but the spirit of the castle was definitely there.
Usually a Raku piece is so small it is not a problem to just pick it up with the tongs but this castle was very large (the largest they have attempted to put into the Raku kiln) and needed THREE people to lift it out of the kiln and place onto the prepared sand pit where it was then covered with a metal trash can.
You can watch the video process here. It’s quite the sight to see!
When we pulled the paper away and I saw that beautiful copper I almost fell over. The piece managed to make it through this whole process and didn’t explode AND the color turned out perfect! All that broke was a wing when we put the can over the top right after it came out of the kiln. I managed to glue that on later and you can’t even tell! I got so dang lucky on this one I couldn’t believe it.
I have entered this piece into the Oregon State Fair Art Competition. You can see it in person at the Hart of the Garden building where it is on display with a lot of other awesome artwork. Guess the judges are a fan of Howl too because I won first place It’s nice when hobbies pay off isn’t it?