Sculptor Brett Kern makes fabulous ceramic pieces that look like vinyl inflatables.
Kern, who has been based in West Virginia, is planning a move, according to Standard Ceramic:
Kern admits that he is in some way "holding on to my childhood," through his focus on popular subjects in his work. He speaks of the contrast between the "throw-away" nature of childhood toys and the lasting impact these items make on the psyche of a developing human. By recreating them in a solid medium, he gives them a physical permanence that comments on both their original transitory physical nature and their lasting reminiscent nature. He says, "Because I use molds, the process is really like fossilization. It preserves the object – or an image of it – in a rock-like representation." He is careful to make his representations exact, duplicating the creases and seams of an inflatable toy. His dinosaur series range from small to large in size. "It is difficult," he says, "to find large inflatable toys. I tried to sculpt them, but it was very problematic. So, I learned to make my own from vinyl." He cuts the material and glues together the pieces, then deconstructs the toy to make the various parts of his molds, dividing them where the seams already are and pressing clay into the legs and arms to maintain the shape during the mold-making process. He says, "The cast comes out very smooth. I clean it up with a sponge. For glazing, I use a sprayer because dipping creates too many uneven surfaces."