Welcome to the Porcelain Menagerie Studio Blog!

Here you can follow the process of Porcelain Menagerie, new pieces, and new ideas!

I create handmade animal figurines for my Etsy shop, Porcelain Menagerie. First, I make original sculptures in oil based clay. Then I use plaster to make molds of the original. Afterwards, the pieces are cast using a liquid clay slip that is poured into the plaster molds.

Here I will show the assemble methods for the rabbits in my shop.

These are molds for the bodies and feet of some of the rabbit sculptures. The feet and ears have to be cast separate from the body of the rabbit sculptures because the form is so complex to mold with them. This way all the pieces are poured with slip at the same time, and then assembled into the final form.

Here, the rabbit body is being taken out of the plaster mold. This mold has 4 pieces that lock into each other using keys.

The seam lines from the mold are then carved away and cleaned up using water to smooth the clay. Now the rabbit is ready for legs and ears.

The legs for the rabbits are often cast together in a single mold called a “gang mold”.

I put the front legs on first for this piece. I lay the rabbit body on its back so that gravity holds the legs up while I smooth the attachments. The hind legs go on next and the piece is turned upright.

I pool a little slip on a plaster disc and set the piece on it to close the hole on the bottom where the pouring gate was. This rabbit doesn’t balance until the hind legs are dry so I prop him up on the foam until then.

The ears are usually put on last because they are the most delicate attachments. Here are the ear molds. Once the ears have been cleaned up they can be attached to the rabbit.

This is the finished rabbit once the ears have been attached! From here, the piece will be bisque fired, and then glaze fired. Additional firings are needed for luster and decals.

Another rabbit being demolded. This rabbit is simpler form so the ears were able to be cast with the body, and only the feet were cast separately. For this piece I use a “tail cap” (a one piece mold that I cast a tail in) to cover the hole where the pouring gate is.

To assemble this rabbit I have to use a block to hold up the body while I attach the legs. The ears are put on last for this rabbit as well.

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About Ariel Bowman

I grew up in Dallas, Texas where I learned to love nature, animals, and art. I graduated with a BFA in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011. I am currently working towards my MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida. This blog serves as a way for my friends and family, as well as anyone interested in my work, to view not only the finished pieces, but some of the process as well. You can subscribe to this blog to keep up to date on what I am currently working on in the studio, research, new sources, and exhibitions.
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