Podcast #1 Clay Modelling artists – Michelle James

michelle harris clay modelling artistMichelle James  (artist name Michelle Harris) is one of the most exceptionally talented clay modelling artists I have seen for quite some time.  

I first discovered her cool clay sculptures by accident through a mutual friend.  I don’t state this praise lightly as she is naturally gifted in this craft form and produces some fascinating and outstanding pieces of art.  

Classical tribal sculptures made out of clay

cool clay sculptures michelle james harrisHer creations are intuitive, ethereal and beautifully crafted and  I believe that she will soon make a serious impact on the clay sculpting world.

Her work is along classical lines and usually centres upon the female form particularly on the torso.  She takes her inspiration from inflences such as Africal Tribal and Egyptian women and has created a marvellous style using thin layers of clay over the main structure.

Each sculpure is enhanced with different colored slips which involves several visits to the kiln.  This effect works incredibly well to give the appearance of old weathered artifacts with peeling and often crumbling, crazed surfaces.

Clay Modelling artists michelle james harris

modelling in sculpture bedlington terrierMichelle is originally from Herefordshire, England and lives with her husband and son in the picturesque village of Wormsbridge on the English / Welsh border.

She attributes her inherent artistic flair to her father who is a fine artist in his own right.  She said that her upbringing with an artistic parent was pivitol and was soon painting pets and other animals for friends and family.  She studied art at Pontypool College in South Wales when she was 18 and later returned to academia at Hereford to obtain an art degree at the age of 31.  

Life as an art student involved many strands of art and craft studies but Michelle has always been happiest with her hands sculpting figures with clay and believes that there is more than a worldly connection between artist and the clay medium.  

sculpting figures with clay michelle james harris

Clay sculpture ideas through a past connection

She is able to feel a connection through her hands with the clays past.  This connection gives her the inspiration and ideas for her creations.  

I asked her how she developes each project. Like many artists that I know (and I include myself) she does not pre-plan to a greater degree (and disliked this aspect in college and university).  

Michelle said that she has an inkling of an idea and as the project progresses the clay ‘speaks to her’ (although not in the literatal sense!)

She feels that this ‘inner dialogue’ with the clay directs her progress with each project.  

I said that this ‘was being artistsic’ but Michelle said it was more than that, being able to feel the clays past history.

Modelling in sculpture for the outdoords

While I discussed her craft I took several photo’s of her work mainly outside in a garden setting.  It struck me that her sculpures would really suit an external setting particularly if the structures were larger.  She agreed with this but had yet to purchase a larger kiln and needed a dedicated workspace area.

sculptures made out of clay michelle james harrisMichelle’s artistic output has been recently ‘off the boil’ but insisted that she fully intends to get right back into the creative mode.  I sincerely hope she does because her sculptures are exquisite and I am sure be well recieved by any art gallery or art conniseur.

I had the pleasure of catching up with her to discuss her artistic origins, where the route has taken her and how she constructs her clay sculptures.

The following short podcast I had with Michelle (see below to play the podcast) reveals much more about this highly talented artist.  You can feel her enthusiasm for clay sculpting in abundance and the only downside is that I believe Michelle is yet to realise how good she really is!  

face behind the mask michelle James

   Sculpture that Michelle refers to in the podcast

Listen to the podcast here…


Creating-Lifelike-Figures-in-Polymer-Clay--Tools-and-Techniques-for-Sculpting-Realistic-FiguresIf you would like to venture into clay modelling why not start out with polymer clay which can be ‘home baked’ without the expense of a kiln.  

We review 5 top rated books on clay modelling to get you started more…