Sculpting Terracotta Heads

North Bristol Artist Mary Collett attended a recent sculpture course at the renowned West Dean College near Chichester in West Sussex and had this to say about her experience:

‘West Dean is just the most perfect place to go to study anything from baking to blacksmithing, from caligraphy to clock making and from willow sculpture to creative writing!  The grounds are breathtaking, the house is stunning, the food is great and the other course members and the tutors are great fun!

‘ I attended a recent 4 day course at West Dean on Sculpting heads in Terracotta which was led by our wonderful tutor, the sculptor Jon Edgar.  The course was incredibly intense as we created two life-size heads from live models in the space of a long weekend. As there were only 10 in the class (the maximum) Jon was always on hand to offer lots of practical help and advice.  Here are photos of my first attempt – thanks to Charlie who modelled for us on the Saturday:

‘On the Sunday we modelled heads of our second sitter, Christine, and we all noticed how much more difficult it seemed to create a female head with is subtler forms and planes. After leaving the heads to harden slightly overnight, we then removed the skull cap the next day, hollowed out our modelled head and fixed the head back together.  We then removed the sculpture from the head post – quite a tricky process, but it was mainly done without disaster!

‘The heads are now finished and drying out for four weeks before they’re fired and ready to collect in a couple of months time.  I can’t wait to go back and collect my sculpted heads and think about my next course at West Dean.’

For more details on Jon Edgar and courses run by him, please look at his website

For more details on West Dean College please see their website


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