Outdoor Ceramic Sculpture

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Ceramic Sculpture Survives Colorado Weather

Offering clay and steel sculpture by Sandy Friedman

Ceramic sculpture is not a term that comes to mind for most people. The two words don’t seem to fit together at first. Add “outdoors” to the mix and you might, like a lot of folks, just shake your head.

When most people think of ceramics, they think of functional art. Certainly there are talented artists who create wonderful works from clay that we live with and use on a daily basis.

However ceramics + sculpture in the hands of Sandy Friedman are words that definitely do go together.

Sandy began working in ceramics while in high school. His studies continued, and he completed a Master in Fine in Ceramics and Sculpture.

Virtuous clay sculpture by Sandy Friedman

His current work is primarily high fire salt ceramics, either ceramic elements alone, or joined with steel.

Living in Colorado, Sandy finds inspiration in the Southwest landscape. He draws energy from the mountains and the plains, the sky and rivers, the weather and wetlands, and even from the urban landscape.

This energy is reflected in the shapes and textures found in his ceramic sculptures.

Fly Me to the Moon clay sculpture by Sandy Friedman

About 5 years ago Sandy began to create steel sculptures for Public Art collections. These pieces soar from 12 to over 15 feet tall. Some of these sculptures include ceramic components, while others are all steel.

While Sandy has numerous works in Public Art collections, most of his work is a smaller scale. Ranging up to 8 feet tall, even his larger sculptures are suitable for a private collection in a home or office–indoors or out.

Uprising steel sculpture by Sandy Friedman

High Fire Salt Ceramic Sculpture

What allows these ceramic sculptures to be place outdoors is the firing process.

I am Dreaming with My Brain Awake detail clay steel sculpture by Sandy Friedman

Sandy’s ceramics are created using a high fire salt process. This makes his ceramic sculpture extremely resistant to weather damage. Even in Colorado where temperatures dip well below freezing and soar to above 100 degrees. Additionally the outdoor sculptures face blizzards, repeated freezing and thawing, high winds, and hail storms.

Aligned and On Point detail clay sculpture by Sandy Friedman

Unlike other ceramic sculptures, the Hi-Fire Salt process results in a highly vitrified surface of the ceramic components. Rock salt is introduced into the kiln environment at the end of the firing process at approximately 2350 – 2400 degrees F developing an extremely durable surface.  This allows for years of placement and enjoyment in outdoor environments.

Ancient History of Hi-Fire Salt

If this is the first you have heard of Hi-Fire Salt you might think this firing process is a recent development.

You would be wrong!

Hi-fired salt ware was discovered in Germany as far back as the late 15th early 16th Centuries.  The kilns and potteries then were producing functional ceramics and were primarily wood fired.

As you can imagine, this required a lot of wood.

When the forests began to recede from over clearing,  it became increasingly more difficult (and expensive) to obtain the wood necessary for firing.

A creative potter realized that there was a lot of driftwood that had accumulated along the shorelines. Not only that, the driftwood was aged, dried and perfectly cured for wood-fired kiln usage.

Potters began using this source of wood for their ceramics.

A side benefit of the driftwood was that it created an attractive pitting on the surface. Today we call that pitting “orange peel.”

Shroomage clay sculpture by Sandy Friedman

The orange peel, that you can see in Sandy’s ceramic sculpture as well is a result of the sea salt fumes interacting chemically with the silica sand in the clay.

The resulting ceramic “stoneware” was fired at a higher temperature and was found to be much more impervious and durable to foods, chemicals and weather.

Thus, today we have ceramic sculpture that is suitable for outdoor display, no matter where you in the world you live!


You can see more of Sandy’s work at sandyfriedmansculpture.com

All images are copyright Sandy Friedman.

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