Transitions (and why I hate Clay)

This assignment was difficult. We had to turn our ideas into objects, which sounds easy, but when faced with the limitations of materials, is actually quite hard.

Our lecturer did an awesome presentation on ‘transitions’, which is the whole point of the assignment. Transitions are where different parts of an object meet up. There’s a lot more to it than you’d think at first, but you can look at all the pictures and read the detailed explanations in this handy pdf: Transitions A1 (Part B)


We started by choosing 3 shapes. To save time and get straight to the crux of the assignment, I got a friend to choose my shapes, willy-nilly, and I did the same for him. I have to create an object with these 3 shapes on the surface and connect them together using transitions. They can be smooth, crooked, elegant or bold, but they must work well together.

Like the last model-making assignment, we have to make the same object with 3 different materials; wire, cardboard and foam/clay. Because I’d never used clay before, I chose that one. What a dumb idea.

My group shared a big hunk of clay. I asked the lady in the clay shop for something white that would have a smooth finish and she sold me some kiln-fire clay. I learned soon after that solid clay explodes when you fire it, so you must build it hollow. Here’s where the fun starts:

I had plenty of ideas for how to make super interesting transitions. very few of these worked in practice:

Creating something hollow using a soft material is incredibly tedious. Creating something with intricacies is near impossible. I tried again and got better, but was still unhappy with the way my idea was turning out. Finally, I formed a new idea around the limitations of the material. While I thought it was basic, the transitions worked, and I received compliments on the design.

The wire model was the easiest. I love working with wire. I can highlight the best features without showing the rest. I love including as little detail as possible to convey as much information as necessary.

The first edition didn’t contain quite enough information to show the curvature around the back and the gradient of width from top to bottom, so I added two secondary lines in the final edition.


Cardboard looks cool and I don’t mind it stylistically, but it definitely requires the most manual labour. I haven’t learnt how to measure objects and prep files for laser-cutting yet, so at the moment, it’s all by hand with guestimation.

And the final models, which I handed in early and got a good mark for:

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