I have been carving and carving and carving, thinking that I needed to perfect it more. When I decided it was time to stop carving I began to add stippling to the background. The background was carved so thin in some places that it broke through and had to be repaired. (Twice!) So, after the repairs I tried stippling again...... very, very gently. It worked pretty well, but I just couldn't leave well enough alone. (This is not the first time I've done that!) Since the piece was thin, I added a backing to it to give it support. With that in place I thought I could go deeper with the stippling (which I could) but now I didn't like the way it looked. So..... back to the carving and pushing clay around to smooth it until all the holes were gone.
Next step was to decide how to hang it. Easy enough! No it wasn't. I spent too much time looking at the piece, turning the piece and trying out different bails. Finally after many hours and sleeping on it, I've decided that a hidden bail is the best. All that's left is to make the bail and fire the piece. Will share the finished piece early next week.
Oh, and I got my stitches out today. Piece of cake!