As the breeding season has been winding down, we have finally been able to give the next house in the Magic Box project some serious attention. The outline for the script has been done about a month, which is a huge advantage in that we can solve problems in the building before it is built. We chose to use a building from our city, Pueblo Colorado, for our model. This is 230 Union Ave, likely built in the early 1900’s, along with most of the architecture in that area of town.
This quick sketch done at my kids karate class was the beginning of the process. We have several needs as we design these buildings. For me, the first priority is the art and craft of the ceramic object, I want the work to be complex and compelling. Strong attention to details give the work an overall feeling of mastery and solid construction allows the piece to survive its constant handling. Gabe’s top priority is its function as a film set. Careful attention is given to the window and door openings for camera access and the movement of the characters within the space. The object has to serve the story as well, this three-story building has a restaurant on the first floor, which will require a larger cast and more furniture and so must be somewhat larger.
We used cardboard models to conceptualize the interior space, especially the stairs and furniture placement, which will be a complex problem.
Next ,was to make scale drawings of all of the individual pieces to be used in the construction of press molds, which are used to ensure uniformity of each element so precise fit can be achieved. My discovery of graph paper has been a tremendous help in this process. I’m spending a fraction of the time on this process compared to past projects.
This conceptual stage is possibly the most difficult in collaboration because there is no physical object to discuss. To get around this Gabe suggested we build the entire piece in card board so that the details can be clearly understood by both of us, which allows us to work effectively and eliminates the feeling of wasted time on un-communicated ideas.
Our primary consideration in the early part of this process was to work out details of the windows and doors so the brick texture can be applied correctly, but it has been a hugely useful tool and we are continuing to use it to consider engineering and aesthetic questions as they arise. Today, Gabe finished the roof detail, which really begins to pull the building together.
A note to non ceramists, all the size dimensions are wet, clay shrinks throughout its drying and firing process. Shrinkage has been calculated at approx. 12% for the clay body we are using for this piece, making the finished house somewhat smaller than shown.