Mad Faience Project: Sculptures in a Lost Egyptian Material
Mad Faience Project: Sculptures in a Lost Egyptian Material
Sculptures will depict adults and children in majesty and innocence. The word "majesty" historically implied the royal or spiritual.
Sculptures will depict adults and children in majesty and innocence. The word "majesty" historically implied the royal or spiritual. Read more
I'm Gavin Gardner. I am a Classically trained artist with a degree in sculpture from the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Old Lyme, Connecticut. You may view my artwork at www.gavingardner.com
ABOUT THE MAD FAIENCE PROJECT
I am excited to present this ground-breaking project to you! "The Mad Faience Project: Sculptures in a Lost Egyptian Material" began four years ago. While flipping through various art books, I honed in on a medium known as ancient Egyptian faience. For years, I had admired without attempting to make any. Faience is unlike any material in the world today and the complex methods of working with it have largely eluded scholars. Many so-called faience products are on the market, but they are not close in chemical composition, and nearly all processes fail to produce results anywhere near that of the ancient Egyptians. In fact, no one has created detailed sculptures in this material since ancient times. Mimi Leveque, a leading conservator of antiquities and expert in Egyptology and faience confirmed this by saying the following in regards to my project, "if you could do it and show that what you are doing is faience (and not just a glazed clay or high clay body) then it would be the first time since antiquity..."
For four years I have conducted chemical testing, recreation experiments, and process experiments. I have consulted with museum experts from around the globe. Recently my recipes and techniques have worked! I have produced detailed figurative work in this material (see picture of blue sculpture that starts my video. In the process I have developed new ceramic techniques.
In addition I have successfully created open-work faience cylinder rings. These are CRAZY challenging to create, and to my knowledge the ones I have made are the first since antiquity. They are extremely delicate to work with as they are approximately 1 mm thick, with pierced designs around the circumference. The ring below took literally hundreds of attempts, months and months of troubleshooting, recipe tweeking, etc. I figured the ring was a challenge and if I could make that, I could achieve anything in sculpture! Here is a picture of the one I made, along with several other successful pieces.
This last image is in line with where I am headed. My goal is highly detailed, anatomically correct figure sculptures. A good way to explain my goal is "an Egyptian and western Classical fusion".
I have always strived for excellence, quality, and mastery of skill. But I believe it takes VISION and INNOVATION to create something lasting. It is my goal to revive Egyptian faience as a sculpture medium. It is my goal to create a material based on technical data at my disposal, while adapting it to modern needs and technology. My ultimate goal is to perfect the material beyond what the Egyptians did.
I need your enthusiastic support to begin producing a themed body of work in faience. Sculpture is very expensive to produce. Materials, live models, mold making, and equipment are very costly and often in the thousands for a single sculpture. Not to mention artists have to live and pay bills. I am hoping this project might be overfunded to help better with costs and for the production of more faience works!
I will produce a minimum of 2 or 3 works in faience on the theme of "Majesty and Innocence". These works will be portrait or figure and will be featured in a show upon project completion. Works will be 12in-24in approximately. All works will depict adults or children and the "majesty and innocence" of the human spirit. Historically, "majesty" refered to royal or spiritual, and works will express this.
There will be a minimum of 2 or 3 faience works. Faience is very difficult to produce so this will be an enormous achievement! The important thing is to create these works and your pledges will ensure that I can produce much more faience eventually.
This exciting project represents my dream to launch a new sculpture medium for collector's to enjoy and it represents the creation of a cohesive body of artworks in the most precious of materials! Sculpture is very laborious and requires time to do well. With laboritory and studio time combined, I will be spending 12 months on all works. My methods of sculpting are traditional. I begin with live models and construct a metal armature (analogous to a skeleton which is a support for the muscles of the body) to support the clay. Then I begin sculpting the figure anatomically. The sculptures alone can take months to be perfected. Afterwards I make molds. From these molds the sculptures can be cast and otherwise reproduced. Lastly I will spend months on various kiln firings and tests to achieve the desired faience results!
This project will launch ONLY if my entire goal of $12,000 is funded. Every pledge will further this vision, and together we can turn this project dream into a reality. You may choose from many different rewards such as limited edition prints, original artworks, and many other great rewards.
Please lend your support by pledging, today! And spread the word! Chatter means pledges!
THE CHALLENGES OF WORKING WITH FAIENCE
There are many challenges in working with faience. Faience is a finicky material, it is thixotropic and almost impossible to work with. Obtaining high detail is again nearly impossible (without my methods at least). The firing process is very methodical and delicate as rapid temperature rise can lead to cracking. Faience is highly fragile in the green stage and can be broken almost by breathing on it. In addition it contains massive quantities of floured silica which is lethal if inhaled in certain doses over time. It is an EXTREME HEALTH HAZARD. I have been working with faience in the basement of my home. I desperately need an outdoor shed and a space-age type full-face respirator system with external air supply. The shed is actually above and beyond my fundraising goal and I'm hoping the fundraising goes really well (perhaps it will be OVER funded) so I can get these materials into an out building.
WHAT IS SPECIAL ABOUT MY BREAKTHROUGH
Here is a link to an image of a very small faience Thoth sculpture from ancient Egypt. Currently it is owned by the collection of Eton College. This link is to their site. My findings will enable me to produce faience of this detail and quality for the first time since ancient Egypt. This opens up new possibilities for the medium.
Other links to ancient faience works
WHY SHOULD YOU PLEDGE?
-Because you like my artwork! (www.gavingardner.com)
-Because you want me to succeed at reviving and ancient material
-Because you like the idea of blue people sculpures
-Because you want to see the cool works I'll create in a new material
-Because my research can be used to create jewelery, pottery, and anything imaginable
-Because I am inventing new ceramics techniques that are useful!
WHAT I NEED THE FUNDING FOR:
-to get my new digital kiln up and running with electrical outlet, ventilation.
-to purchase full face respirator system with external air supply (to keep me alive)
-to purchase materials and supplies
-to hire models for photo shoots (to produce sculptures)
-to pay for making the pledge rewards for this project
-to pay for the shipping of all rewards!
-to pay the 5% (of total of funds raised) to kickstarter, and 5% to amazon (which mediates your pledges)!
-other project expenses and equipment.
ARE OTHER ARTISTS WORKING WITH FAIENCE?
When you google "Egyptian faience" or "egyptian paste" you will definitely find people claiming to be working in this material. You will even find art supply companies that sell something they call "Egyptian paste". Faience has been popular BECAUSE of its lost technology, and its beauty. They call it faience but it is not.
99.999% of the time the materials these other people are using IS NOT faience. Because of the difficulty of making faience, people have found creative ways around the difficulties. They will put a lot of clay in the recipe even though faience is defined as a "non-clay ceramic). The clay makes the faience more "plastic" and it becomes easier to shape and retains detail better.
In modern-day Egypt there are artisans who claim to be making faience, but once again it is not authentic. It will either have clay in it, or it will be made by grinding up old glass or faience and remelting or FUSING it.
The only group of people who are making and attempting to make chemically accurate Egyptian faience are university academics, conservators, Egyptologists, and a handful of artists such as myself. There might be 25-50 people in the world who are trying to replicate real faience.
Out of this small group numerous successes have been made. Researchers have discovered how to reproduce certain simple beads, Amarna tiles, simple jewlery items, faience inlay, and that is just about it!
Faience spanned 5,000 years of use in Egypt and each Egyptian period had its own recipes and methods for making it. The Nubians were the first to make faience. What they made was very primitive by our standards. Over centuries, the technology evolved. In later periods artisans were making plates, chalices, pectorals, rings, sculptures that were even more detailed.
As it was actually the Egyptians who invented most sculpture technologies that are still used today, theirs was a journey from primitive to technologically advanced and highly refined sculpture.
If you google Nubian faience, you will see it is extremely primitive. Then google Late Dynastic Period Faience, or Ptolemaic faience and you will see the height of refinement in faience as a medium.
Many researchers who have had success replicating faience have created fairly primitive faience. My goal is to produce highly detailed figure sculptures in the tradition of Western Classical sculpture. Any researcher of Egyptologist will tell you, this level has never been achieved.
My goal is to get as close to the chemistry of ancient faience as possible while employing some modern techniques. My goal is not only to reproduce the material as well as possible but to streamline the process for the modern artist.
I would wager a guess that the reason faience faded in use and eventually died out is because it was not an easy medium to work with. What could ancient artisans have done with this material if they had our technologies to use? Would they have continued making faience? Would the Greeks and Romans have continued to develop the medium to the standards of high Classism? Would Praxiteles and Phidias have made masterpieces in blue faience?
More than anything, THIS is my goal. To create recipes that are as chemically close as possible and to eventually take the medium further than the ancient Egyptians.
- (30 days)