Scribble Town (ST): From a playful and loving person such as DV no wonder her ceramic sculptures embody and give so much joy to us all! Thank you DV for taking the time to share with us.x
Froggy Fun by DV Hirsch!
DV Hirsch (DV): I would like to be clear that I do not consider myself to be an artist. If I was to be given a title then you may call me a creaturiste. My medium is clay and when I begin a sculpture, I rarely have an idea as to what the out come will be.
ST:aHow did you get started with your creations?
DV's Bird in the Process
DV:aI usually start out with a lump of clay that I hollow out and it becomes a pinch pot that I can build on. There is nothing awe inspiring about a basic pinch pot but if I play with it and push it around enough, I may then say to myself that this looks like it could be a bird, or a fish. Now sometimes something may start out as a fish and end up a bird. I had a dog turn into a sea lion once. The most wonderful thing about the sculpting process is that there are no mistakes. You can always add, take away or smooth over. Once the sculpting process is done, you need to wrap the project up and let it dry very slowly and evenly. This is because, as the clay dries, it shrinks and because I attach so many parts to my pinch pot, there is a potential for the parts to crack off if one part dries faster than the other. At the point that the creature is dry, it is in it’s most fragile state. If it is not handled very carefully, it could crumble.
This is a "Dino Bird" that has just been painted. by DV
When dried, the next stop is the kiln. A kiln is like an oven where the sculpture bakes at very high temperature and hardens. Once it goes through this process I no longer have to worry that it may crumble like a cookie. It is still fragile, but now I only fear that I do not bang it. Now the decorating process begins. For me, this is a difficult step. It takes a lot of discipline to paint the creature you see, because every color needs to be painted four times or else there is a chance that some color will disappear when it goes back into the kiln. It can take me more than 100 hours to paint some creatures, depending on how large and detailed they are. When a creature is fully painted it goes back into the kiln for the colors to intensify.
This first picture is of a guy I call an "InBe" he was just painted and is in the kiln waiting to be fired. DV
When it comes out of the kiln this time, I rinse it off, to wash away the dust, then I dip it into a clear liquid glaze. The creature enters the kiln one more time. However, this time the kiln’s temperature is much, much hotter. Here the glaze will become glass like and give the creature a shiny appearance. When it comes out, I have my fingers crossed that it looks like what I envisioned.
ST: Wow what a process! You are a true artisan and sculpture because you are so skilled and thoughtful with your medium and creations. What do you hope to communicate with your art?
DV: I think that the only thing that I want to communicate and share with my work is a smile. That is their purpose. If someone looks at my creature and it tickles them, then I am thrilled and that is my biggest reward.
From a young child, I was taught and encouraged to work with my hands. I loved sewing, beading and clay and I was very lucky because my mom always made sure that if I had an interest in something then she would make sure that I had the supplies and books. Often, I would take a class to learn a new skill. Play dough was my earliest introduction to clay. Actually, I believe that my mom made a play dough like substance out of corn starch. I think that every child needs the active interest, encouragement and time from an adult to help them develop a passion for crafts because in this day and age it is just too easy for a child to zone on the computer or TV.
Hello there! by DV
I would never want to discourage anyone from doing ceramics. When I finally finish a sculpture it is very rewarding. However, the ceramic process is not for the faint of heart. I say this because, every step of the way, there is a potential for your project to have a problem. Often you can work through it but occasionally the project needs to be discarded. That being said, in addition to a wide variety of skills that you learn from doing ceramics, the entire process is a wonderful teacher of many values and character attributes. Patience, delayed gratification, pride in ones work, respect for others work and craftsmanship are just a few lessons learned.
Well, you are very good at what you do because I feel tickled
Where does this tickling process begin- what is your favorite place to create?
I work at a studio in NYC called La Mano Pottery
. It is a wonderful environment to work in. Filled with good energy and good people. I have a shelf where I keep my work but I can work anywhere in the studio.
Scrunch Bag Buddy by DV
Everyone there is helpful and supportive. A primary reason to work at a studio is because there I have access to the kiln along with many supplies and equipment which is not practical to have in an apartment setting. The studio has 5 kilns and work is constantly loaded into the kilns to be fired. So you never have to wait very long to see your final project. Another advantage to the studio is that you are not isolated. If you have questions or need help, there are always knowledgeable people to ask.
One of my favorite things to do at the studio is to look at eveyones shelves and admire their work. There is so much creativity there and it is fun to be able to identify people’s work just by knowing their style.
The studio is a great place to go and become familiar with the wonder of ceramics. At La Mano Pottery, they offer many children and adult classes. I often see parents and their children take private lessons together.
ST: Sounds like we should all pay La Mano Pottery a visit! One important aspect to making art is to be an environment that encourages you in the right way. I’m happy to know you have found a place to do that. You know where to put your cup (look below ). Thanks DV!
My Cup by DV