The pieces of the Bustard that I glued yesterday have had varying results… The larger body pieces are still mostly wet and don’t seem too rigid, ie, the glue has not set on such a large set of layers.. However the head pieces are pretty solid, I guess it’s just the size of the body section that has prevented it from drying fully.

I leave them in the hope that a couple more hours will help and set about outlining the shape for the tail section. I need 6 layers to achieve the maximum width of 30cm.


I wasn’t sure how accurate I was going to be with a bread knife to carefully sculpt my wing tip shapes, but after the first one, it was clear I wouldn’t need the hot wire, the knife was doing a grand job, as long as I came at the curved bit from both angles it exceeded my expectation.


I quickly glue them together with a bit cocktail stick trickery to pin them in place, then turn to the biggest shape to sculpt.



I thought it would be best to start on the body, as it’s so big I’m hoping I can’t make too many big mistakes, having never tried to carve polystyrene before, but I couldn’t resist just popping the pieces in situ to see how it was turning out.



Massive is what struck me!

Jim gave me another two tools to add to my arsenal of sculpting weapons, a whacking great wood saw and a beautiful Japanese rasp – apparently it’s the best tool in the workshop – to be taken care of!


I have not got an aerial view of the Great Bustard to work my width measurements on, all I have is any of Dave Kjaer’s photos and a working knowledge of traditional birdshapes and mechanics.


I sketch out where the front and back measurements take me, and try and put together a reasonable outline, a quite rotund but powerful set of shoulders, gently sweeping arc down to the wingtips, which almost overlap at the rear end.


I use the wood saw to do the big blocks of cutting, but turn to the rasp to smooth and gently shape.


It is a lovely tool to use, with both a rough and smooth side, it’s a work of art in it’s own right, it seems to be made up of hacksaw blades that gently wide in and out to make a close set diamond grid that works beautifully to sculpt my Bustard…


It also covers me, the bench and the floor with lots of polystyrene snow, which also seems to stick to my hands and arms!

All too soon lunch comes and the workshop shuts for an hour – don’t they realise how precious any time an MA student has in a workshop – and I have to down tools and sit about until it re-opens…

It takes such a long time to carve I start to doubt I’m going to get onto the plaster at all this week, let alone the welding for the legs… I think Jim realised I wasn’t going to have time and he has offered to do the legs for me, a bit of a shame when I was looking forward to having a go, but I know what he means when he says, “it would be quicker for me to do it than for me to teach you…”

After lunch I plough on, finishing the initial carve of the body, and manage to get onto carving the head too, this looks particularly nice when ‘finished’. All of these first carves are only to minimise how much I will need to finish when the model is together as it’s going to be slightly unwieldy and I don’t want bits to break off.


When nearly finished on the body one of the sections fully came away from the rest of the layers, proving how unstuck the whole thing was… a little worrying when it was left overnight, but all the way through the carve I have encountered wet glue in places.

Time is running out again and I need to get the tail and head stuck to the body to try and give another overnight for the glue to set, fingers crossed all round I think…


I quickly mark up the tail and roughly using the saw hack off the larger portions, as we glue it to the body I am really concerned about what is going to happen tomorrow, when I get into it I don’t want to be worrying that it’s going to slip apart!

Jim can completely pull the layers apart on the body, so adds some more glue and resticks it whilst we have the chance. He also tells me that I shouldn’t be a worrywart, but I can’t help it, this is going to be part of my show!

Putting it together I am pleased with the shape, it still looks absolutely massive, but I’ve tried my hardest to use any measurements I can get my hands on, and there we have it!