Day 4 begins with the base, I start by using a light scrim and plaster dip to lay over the chicken mesh, I crisscross the weave to make a stronger based after 4 layers I’m ready to add smooth plaster over the surface.

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It’s tricky with the scrim fibres sticking out and the chicken wire being very angular, but after a first light layers the second layer gets it covered.

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Whilst doing the plaster base I need to be aware of which way the Bustard is facing, making sure there is enough space for his 14cm long toes to fit on and I haven’t accidentally made a hillock in the way!

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The weight of the base has increased dramatically… I’m hoping I’ve not been too free handed with the plaster and made it impossibly heavy.
It looks good though, a bit like a meringue, but a good solid base and having the extra weight means it will be more stable.

I start on the legs with ‘modroc’ which is a plaster infused fine bandage.

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I’m hoping that by using small strips I can utilise the natural texture which will mirror a birds legs, the ridged effect by wrapping and the leathery effect with the weave of the bandage.

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I try and cut as many strips as I think I will need to cover the first leg – you do not want to be cutting the mid roc with wet hands, as any small drips will trigger the plaster to set – and start the process of dipping, laying onto the leg steels and smoothing as I go.

It needs to be worked almost continuously until nearly fully set, it’s awkward trying to go around such a thin diameter, but I slowly move up the leg getting the finish and thickness as I go.
Whilst still wet if you add more water and smooth again you can get a good even finish, it’s amazing how much plaster will come out of the bandage.

I add more width to the top of the legs, but realise quite quickly that it would be best to make a polystyrene former for the top of the legs, as modroc is not a cheap material. I form the knees and then turn to adding the feet on.wpid-dsc_0179.jpg
I place the metal toes in situ, they look incredibly long and I go back to my reference grid to double check, but yes they are that long, it’s only as long as the beak and overall will probably balance out.

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I decide to partially cover them before attaching at the ‘ankle’ point and try and make a toe shape, in and out and wider at the nail point.

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Adding the toes requires an extra pair of hands which I don’t have so use the mod roc to almost tie the toes on, actually that works quite well and I stuff the knot into the gap to bulk it out.
Once onto the leg they sit very well together and no longer outsized, but I need to make the toes more realistic.

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I use the modroc to hang from halfway down the toe, knowing that once dry it will be set hard and this makes the look of tendons on the toes.

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That is much better.

I decide to move onto the polystyrene Bustard, starting with the head, and continue with the modroc, unfortunately I now encounter a real problem, the polystyrene keeps falling off and creating lumps on top of and underneath the beautiful plaster, this is so annoying, plus the modroc keeps shedding fibres so getting this smooth is turning into a frustrating exercise. The head of the bustard is lumpy bumpy and not working as it should…

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Jim suggests trying to put a fins skim of ordinarily plaster over the surface to try and smooth it out, but I’m very aware of adding too much weight to a delicate area of the sculpture, it would also make it too front heavy for the legs and base, so I tentatively skim it, but am not sure why this has gone quite wrong, I’m hoping I will be able to sand this area back a little as well, once fully dry. I manage to get the neck smooth, but the head is almost pockmarked… Very dissapointing…

I move onto the back and realise that I have just not been working the modroc hard enough and maybe that’s why the finish is not as expected. I know the back is a wider flatter space, but I manage the media so much better this gets the results I was looking for from the neck.

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This is my inexperience working with this particular medium, but I must keep in mind that the sculpture is not my Master piece, it’s the experience I’m hoping to give with the Augmented Reality, projection, animation and the trigger to bring interactivity in a non-destructive way.

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