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For a number of years, I have kept my eye on a particularly interesting show for clay artists, the International Cone Box Show. The pieces for this show are small sculptures that are able to fit inside a cone box (3  x 3 x 6 inches). This year I decided to apply. 

If you are not a potter, the following explanation might help you understand why this show has universal appeal for potters, who traditionally used cones to determine the temperature inside a kiln. The cones melt at different temperatures and tell you the temperature that is being reached during the firing. Many potters today use digital kilns, but they still use cones as a backup because cones provide a failsafe. Potters are familiar with the small boxes that these cones are packaged in. And some find these boxes appropriate for storage of small pieces. The idea of the founders of the show was that this particular size — 3 x 3 x 6 inches — would be the size criteria for pieces in the show. 

Another important aspect of this is that it is an international show. Artists from all over the world have sent small pieces of sculpture to Kansas, because you actually have to send the piece to be juried into the show, rather than an image of the piece.

The jurors for this year were Patti Warashina, Tom Coleman, and Inge Balch. Here is a bit of background about each. Tom Coleman is a porcelain expert. Patti Warashina has always made miniature sculptures, which are absolutely beautiful.  Inge Balch, who is a professor of Art at Baker University, said “that getting a piece down to a small size but still retaining the feel of being large is part of the challenge. Artists can have some fun with it.”

Take Me for A Ride on A Toad by Barbara Higgins

The piece I submitted is a tiny porcelain sculpture, a female figure riding on the back of a toad. It’s entitled Take Me for a Ride on a Toad. I like to make small figures, and often place them on lanterns, candlesticks, fish, turtles, birds and toads. So in this case I made the toad small enough so the figure and the toad would fit inside the cone box. This sculpture is made of porcelain, fired midrange in oxidation to 2175 degrees. The glazes are chun glazes and are my own colors. I was very pleased to have my work accepted in the show.

The 2012 International Cone Box Show opens on September 28 in Lawrence, Kansas, and runs from 9/14-10/31. It then travels to NCECA in Houston in March and travels further until May 30. See their website for more information.  

Barbara Higgins is owner and founder of the Clay Centre in Carrboro, and has been making clay pieces for over thirty years. The Clay Centre is made up of professional studios, classes, workshops and a small gallery. See examples of Barbara’s small sculpture at her website and on the Clay Centre Gallery Facebook page.

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