“A Beacon In The Night”

My daughter Katie is an engineering major at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.  This year she is a part of the leadership team for the CCM (Campus Catholic Ministry).  Last month she and others ran a retreat and she asked if I could design a giveaway for the participants, a shield representing the theme of the retreat.  We turned them into key chains and (I was told) they were a hit.  Members of the group running the next retreat saw the shields and asked if I might design something for their retreat…a lighthouse.  A little more difficult, but I am always up for a challenge so I got to work.

First thing I had to do was find a lighthouse that would translate well to clay.  I remembered the Cape Hatteras lighthouse from a visit many years ago.  Black & white stripes…simple enough.     I sketched it out and grabbed the clay.

I layered black and white layers to create the striped design and reduced it until it was long enough for me to cut (hopefully) 85+ slices!  Wow, this was going smoothly…pretty easy peasy.  IMG_0319

Next came the bottom.  I decided to make a Skinner blend from gold and Alizarin Crimson to mimic the colors.  I then wrapped with a “putty” colored layer and squared it up.  Lengthening by reducing allowed me to cut and stack it multiple times until I had what resembles a brick or stone bottom.  Not exactly what is on the actual lighthouse, but a pretty good representation if I do say so myself.  IMG_0324Again I reduced the cane until it fit with the middle section (the black & white).  Happy with the look I moved onto the top.

I really wanted the lighthouse light to glow, so I turned to one of my favorite clays glow-in-the-dark.  I blended scraps from the other canes together and created a gorgeous aged bronze color. Perfect (I do love when things work out)!!  I stacked 1-2 slices of the blended color with 4 slices of the GITD.  Cut, stack, reduce, cut stack, reduce again and I had the top, sort of.  Something was missing….hmmmmm.  I decided an additional strip of GITD was needed to top it off with a super thin bronzed layer on top to finish it off.  Once reduced and rounded out it was absolutely perfect.  IMG_0325Again I matched it up to the other components to make sure they worked well together. I made any small tweaks to the sizing and then I was ready to roll on putting the pieces together.

I decided that I could need to cut thin slices and place them on a backing.  I mixed together multiple blues, a little peacock (bluish green), and odds & ends from my clay table and came up with a gorgeous blue to represent the sky & water.  Hopefully it will stretch far enough to make all 85+ pieces.  If not, I will mix something else up for the remaining pieces.

To make the production move along quickly, I cut squares from my sheet of blue clay 20 at a time.  Then (in turn) slices from the bottom, middle, and top canes.  IMG_0321In arranging them the first time I played a little with how they would be placed.  Once I was happy with the arrangement it was easy to duplicate 19 more times.  Something was missing….windows!  They were added using a handy dandy recycled dental tool. IMG_0323A hole was placed at the top before baking to make assembly streamlined.  Done and off to the oven they go….IMG_0328

Once all 85+ are done I plan to highlight the lettering with a bit of burnt umber paint.  then the key ring will be added and they will be sent off on their journey to the retreat.  Hoping the recipients enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed the challenge of creating them.

Thanks for visiting.  See you next time.


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