The Shaman of Trois Freres


Staring at us from the mists of time, the Shaman of Trois Freres demonstrates for us the artistry of our Neolithic ancestors (Trois Freres is a cave in France with many wonderful examples of Neolithic art). While Native American art has widely been used as an inspiration for metal clay, Neolithic art is rarely touched. Here is my first attempt to remedy that, the Shaman done in bronze clay.

I chose One-Fire Bronz clay because it rarely fails to sinter. I chose bronze because, to do the shaman justice, I would need to make a large piece, and bronze clay is relatively inexpensive.


To start, I rolled the clay to a thickness of 0.75 mm, and cut out a rough outline of the shaman. I left out the antlers. They would be easy to break while working in greenware, and could be added earlier. I studied the image of the original shaman.


I added the shoulders, 0.75 mm thick. I added the face, carving out the eyes. The original image has no details in the eyes, so I kept that feature. I suspect that the original shaman, on whom this is modeled, wore a mask to deep that the eyes could not be seen. I shortened the antlers from the original — I want this to be worn, and I do not want the antlers to poke the wearer!


There are many details in the image. I cut them out of bronze clay and added them, one at a time. When all the details were added, I sanded the cleaned the figure. Then I attached the shaman to a disk, textured with a texture sheet that resembled carved stone. I attached a hidden bail, did some last-minute clean-up, and fired.


The image above is the fired and tumbled shaman. I considered leaving it in this form. Then I considered how the original would have been seen. The cave would have been lit only by firelight. The fire would have been smoky. No, the Shaman of Trois Freres should not be shiny — he should be dark and mysterious.

I considered using Black Max. However, I wanted a more archaic appearance. My final decision was to go over the shaman with a torch until the figure developed a black coating of oxidation. I then polished it, so it was not a uniform black.


This is my concept of how the Shaman of Trois Freres should look! Clearly, Neolithic art can inspire us, as metal clay artists. This is only my first step into the world of Neolithic art.




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