This is a commissioned piece showing two oxen in an ox haul competition.
Paper and masking tape are used to form a basic armature for the body.
A framework is made with hot glue to support the weight until the clay sets up to a firmer state.
The legs are left quite thick so they will support the weight while still workable.
Later they will be trimmed down as the clay dries.
The clay is a low fire buff clay that has had cellulose fibers added to make paper clay.
The embedded paper fibers and the paper armature will be slowly burned out in the kiln during firing.
The base is supported underneath by a cardboard shelf.
It is covered with plastic wrap to prevent sticking problems and
is smaller than the base, so as to not to get wedged inside when the clay shrinks.
The base and its walls are build from slabs of paper clay
that has been rolled out between plastic wrap and trimmed to size.
The carving is too large to fit in my electric kiln,
so it will be made in two parts.
The sled and weights will be fired as separate units,
then glued together after firing.
Later the cardboard will be removed and a cross support of clay will be made to take it's place.
Oxen have been transferred to the base and a yolk made from white clay has been added.
The yolk is red and the white clay will make it easier to achieve this colour.
A leather pad has been added to the foreheads.
This will be decorated with beads and leather straps will be added.
The straps hold the yolk in place.
Legs reduced in size but still a bit more to go.
I want them to set up a little harder before continuing.
They need to be able to support the weight of the body,
and I am reducing them a little at a time,
and letting them dry out a little more as I go.
I don't want them to go completely dry as it would be hard to work the clay.
Ears, facial details and the binding to the yolk has been added.
More detail will be added to the shape of the yolk.
The wood post that will join the oxen to the drag sled,
has been formed and will be allowed to dry before attaching in place.
That way, i don't need to support it while it dries.
It will be glued to the yolk with a paste of paper clay,
and chain details added later.
The oxen are just a little smaller than I had planned ,
and will fit in the kiln so I have extended the base.
I plan to build a rectangular kiln more suited to the size of the sculpture I usually make.
The pottery kiln is round and high.
The base is supported underneath by a cross section of clay supports.
The cardboard support originally used, has been removed.
The weight sled has been added.
The arrangement for towing the sled needs to be done and more details to the oxen.
The legs are now down to size and seem to be supporting the body well.
The clay is not yet dry but is in a very firm state.