Modeling Clay as a Medium for Design Development
A while ago I was asked to come up with an idea for a terraced garden. Over a span of weeks the design grew through three incarnations as a result of conferencing with the client. In the end, the project wasn’t realized, but the design process proved valuable to us both, nonetheless.
Clay sketches are the instruments of communication I use to express ideas. The truthfulness of any idea is uncovered by thinking and working it through using three-dimensional materials. With clay, a concept forms through the fingers. Questions about a design come up in the activity of applying clay that might not otherwise be addressed until a project is underway. Solving problems in small scale is more easily done than at the full scale of a construction site.
Typically, after fashioning a 3D sketch of a proposal I photograph it and then destroy it; the clay going back into a storage bin until the next idea requires physical expression. I’ve designed dozens of stonework commissions in this manner. Fresh blocks of clay are added from time to time but there are undoubtedly some bits of the malleable material that have been around my studio for 20 years. There’s something quite magical about a substance that can make itself new, again and again, without losing any of its unique and useful qualities.