The 577 Foundation in Perrysburg will soon have an 8-foot ceramic beehive in addition to the smaller scale hives it has around the property.
Ceramic artist Laurie Spencer is building one of her famed ceramic sculptures based off Mud Dauber wasp nests in the foundation’s community garden during June and July.
The foundation recruited Ms. Spencer as its summer 2012 Artist in Residence last fall after executive director Mary Mennel and pottery director Julie Beutler saw some of her work displayed at the Toledo Botanical Gardens and the University of Toledo.
The group spent several months working on ideas together and discussing how and when Ms. Spencer would create a sculpture for the foundation.
“It’s been a long process, not only deciding on the design but also on the size and all of that,” Ms. Spencer said. “When I first started doing this I did it free form and I would see where it would go. Now I need a plan.”
The design features stacked round coils of clay, each coil slightly smaller than the previous one, with a clay cap covering the top. The sculpture has a door on one side that allows admirers to enter, and small leaf-shaped holes throughout that will allow light and sound in.
“Almost all my works are multi-sensory works,” Ms. Spencer said. “I’m really into things you can feel, touch, hear. I like the idea of being enveloped by the sculpture, that you can view it from the inside or the outside.”
Ms. Spencer, along with 577 Foundation staff, pottery students and volunteers, began the coiling and building of the dome on June 11.
“We have a strong group of pottery students here,” Ms. Beutler said. “This opportunity is neat because they get to work with an artist. They’ll have that pride that they helped Laurie Spencer make this.”
The process involves forming large coils of clay, rounded for the bottom of the structure and square for the cap on top, by stretching the clay and pounding it with a mallet. The rounded coils are rolled on a texture board to give them a more natural look before they are placed outside the wooden frame used to build the sculpture.
Working outside in a garden comes with its challenges, Ms. Spencer said.
“It’s a lot different than working in a studio with temperature control,” she said. “The weather itself presets a lot of challenges. If there are torrential downpours, the clay can’t dry. If it’s really hot and sunny, it dries too quickly.”
Despite both rain and sweltering heat, Ms. Spencer said the group has not had any major problems so far.
The building is slated to be finished by Thursday when the ceramic artist will return to her home in Tulsa, Okla. She will be back in Perrysburg from July 10-18 to build a kiln around the clay structure and fire it 24 hours a day for three days. After the structure has cooled and the kiln is dismantled, the group will clean the structure and add any finishing touches the piece needs.
Ms. Spencer has created about 20 structures similar to her current project; those sculptures are located in the United States and Wales.
She has taught ceramics for the Holland Hall School in Tulsa since 1994.
Contact Mel Flanagan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6087.