So I continued to refine until I felt that I struck a balance of free strokes and polish. The clay is a very heavy, firm, groggy clay called Chestnut that I got at Mile Hi Ceramics. It's an interesting clay to work with but the heavy grog can be a bit sandy to work with. I find that the grog (sandy, pebbly particles that add body and strength to a clay while reducing shrinkage rate when firing) comes to the surface when using sponging or brushing with water on the surface. However, if you push on the surface using wood or metal tools or pallets, the grog is pushed deeper into the clay and the surface is smooth - or at least smoother. I found this to be an interesting combination as I burnished a few areas where the skin would be most taught, giving a tighter, more light-reflective property to the clay and leaving the more textured, groggy clay for other areas. Very tacticile
This portrait bust of Harriet Tubman was very satisfying to sculpt. I plan on doing a 3/4 figure of her soon and the bust was a way of getting familiar with her face and features before expanding into more of the figure later.
She'll need to dry for a while before firing, so that won't take place until sometime in January.