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  • aliciafaciane

My Robots from their Beginning

I get asked a lot, Why do you make robots? I love robots and I can trace them back to a festival called Pyromania. This festival of fire brought different artists together to show the public how they used fire to make their artwork. At the time I was attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for my undergrad. The ceramics department would build onsite kilns to show the public how clay artists could build a kiln on site and fire pieces over a weekend. Every year I looked forward to participating in this event. Each year the kiln was a different design but the robot kiln was by far my favorite.

We had previously constructed the kilns from wire mesh, fiberfrax, clay, hay and clay buttons but the year before the robot kiln, we added a welded rebar structure for more support to the kiln. That year the kiln looked like the Empire state building with King Kong at its top.

The rebar structure had worked so well that the next year we wanted to reuse the same rebar structure which dictated the a rough boxy shape we needed to build our new kiln design around. Thus the robot kiln design was born.

As the students were making pieces to go inside the robot kiln, I made my first robot forms. At the time, I was really inspired by figurative work and visual patterns in technology so I started looking at 1950's enamel robots which inspired me to make my first robots. I was working mostly sculptural so I made a few robots with test tubes to hold flowers and a couple of lidded robot containers. My future forms, robot drinking buddies, definitely evolved from the lidded robot containers.

The robot kiln was constructed in layers starting with the wire rebar structure, covered in fiberfrax sheets, and then covered with a layer of clay mixed with hay, called bousillage, for more insulation and to provide decorative elements to look like a robot.

The chamber in the interior of the robot held the shelves with the artwork.

It was really fun after the firing was complete and cooled to pull the smaller robots out of the larger robot structure. Seen below is a before any after of the fired chamber and the finished glazed pieces before and after the back panel of the kiln was removed

In grad school I continued to make functional pieces loosely inspired by the linear robot motif but eventually I came back to robot figures themselves and have been making various versions of them ever since. I love that each of my robots is unique and disrupts the idea that a robot is just a mass produced entity. I have earthenware robots, porcelain robots, celadon robots, "naked" robots, Mishima robots, woodfired robots, soda fired robots and a growing robot family album of robots and their human drinking companions. If you have a robot and would like to join the album please send me an image, no names, just smiles and a location if you wish to share. Canada, Scotland, San Francisco, Chicago, New York; I love hearing that my robots travel far and wide.

Check out The Robot Family Album and become a part of the family:

Get your own robot drinking buddy here,

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