Mindful Art – Salt dough sculptures inspired by Chris Bramble

This week we are celebrating Black History Month with a special mindful art session inspired by Chris Bramble’s vase in our Domestic Bliss exhibition.

Chris Bramble studied Art and Design at the Glasgow School of Art and spent ten years working in the city. He moved to London in 1989 and set up his pottery studio in Kilburn. He now exhibits and sells his pots as well as teaching in schools and colleges across London. He continues to make and teach the craft of ceramics alongside his two daughters: Freya and Yolande: https://www.freyasclayclub.com/about.

Chris Bramble, Vase, thrown brown stoneware. Tall swelling below generous neck. Lowest third unglazed, incised reed decoration. Painted with crude face motif. Base incised marks.

Chris Bramble’s interest in European sculptural tradition and love of African craftsmanship, shape and form are evident in his work. You can see a painted face emerge from this vase, crafted into the shape of an elongated neck and head. There are faces on both sides of the vase looking out to the front and behind giving a real sense of needing to walk around this work and see it from all the angles.

The content of my work is influenced through the people I have met and the spirit that lies within them. Making my everyday craft a joy with the rhythm of music and dance. Each of my pieces is a meditation; a spiritual and emotional activity which I can share with everyone. When working with clay, the work is not always permanent, but the energy is.

Chris Bramble

Why not have some relaxing, meditative fun creating figurative sculptures or a head/face using salt dough?

We suggest to begin with a short meditation, followed by the activity itself. Find a tranquil spot in your home or garden and get your materials ready. There are several free short meditations online, but we suggest this simple one:

When you’re ready, let’s start by making the dough. You will need:

  • 1 cupful of plain flour (about 250g)
  • half a cupful of table salt (about 125g)
  • half a cupful of water (about 125ml)

Measure out 1 cup of flour and pour into a bowl. Do the same with half a cup of salt, then mix the dry ingredients and add 1 cup of water, mixing together with a spoon. Once the mixture comes together, start to knead with your hands, adding some more flour if it is too wet/sticky. This is where you can take your time and relax and get a feel for the dough in your hands. How does it feel?

Once the dough is thoroughly mixed, you can start to create your sculpture. Roll the dough into a perfect ball shape in your hands, taking time to smooth out any cracks or imperfections. Then start making your sculpture.

You can use items found around the house to add detail such as pencils, pens or spoons. With these tools you can fashion eyes, nostrils etc. until you are happy with the face shape.

When you have completed your sculpture transfer to a baking tray and bake on a low temperature for approximately 3 hours.

Once this has dried out in the oven you can add natural colours using paint or felt tips to highlight the features of the face. Take your time to do this, focusing on each stroke, the sound of your paintbrush on the dough, the smell of the paint, the intensity of the colours.

How are you feeling now? More relaxed than when you started? Share your thoughts and creations with us!

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