Jareth – Sculpture Project – The Hair

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As I got further on with my Sculpture of Jareth, I was nearing the end of the face and clothing, not finished, but getting there, and I was starting to look at the next stage – the hair. I had a quick look on the internet and was perturbed with some of my search results.

the face is amazing, it’s a great David Bowie face, but it’s not Jareth, you know… and the hair.. not quite right…

 

these guys took the use real hair route and the full model has fantastic attitude, but the hair isn’t sculpted

The colour and the detail on the clothes look fantastic, the face is not really Bowie but I don’t know what MacFarlane were thinking when they made this hair

This is quite a nice plaque, doesn’t look like Jareth at all, looks more like younger Bowie to be honest  – (actually if you look on the site this sculptor has obviously got one David Bowie face that he casts and put slightly different hair and accessories on) and the hair is just not quite right…

ok, this has started to get a little weird, again the face has got it, but the hair, who have they borrowed that from?

So after looking around and not finding anything I liked, or could even start to base my hair on, my next step filled me with quite a lot of intrepidation.

In reality I actually put my model to one side and just looked at it for a whole week, not knowing how to progress.

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After looking at my model under it’s safety plastic covering for a week or so and not finding any inspiration (see above), or technique I could use to get how I saw the hair for this model right, I just had to try.

So I thought I would test some ideas, and see how it worked within the Monster Clay, keeping in the back of my mind that I could just take it all off if it went terribly wrong…

At first I tried rolling little strands and trying to apply those, but it looked more like dreads than the short long hair combo that was the actual wig for Jareth.

I took those off.

Then I tried rolling flat bits and cutting through them, thinking I could apply them in semi circles at different layers round the back of the head, but that didn’t work either…

More hair removal, back to baldy Bowie again!

Then I tried to scratch into the surface of rolled and slightly flattened pieces, I thought this might work, so started to layer up on one side, but after consideration I felt this was not right. too chunky, no fineness to the strands.

Everybody off!

It needed more life, more ‘poof’, less heaviness.

I started to just add and push back with the wax carving tools, just to pull at the once again softened clay and add those bits on, a bit like adding leaves and then pushing back into the soft and thinned edges, this was better..

Still quite heavy but I liked the texture and different levels/layers.

Then I tried adding longer strands and slightly flattened but slimmer pieces…

Back to the reference as much as possible for this bit

I am pleased with the heavily textured back area and adding in the thin trails or strands is working for me.

It’s still a little too heavy in the body of the hair, but I’m a bit stuck as to how to fix that… The fringe at the front is too chunky, but I’m going to leave it to harden up and see if I can work out how to thin it down without making it really straggly. I’m very aware that after my googling similar sculptures the hair is the hardest thing to get right.

I am also going to remove the eye beads and sculpt the orbit of the eye in clay.

The skin needs work, but again I’m not sure how to get a nice finish on it, if I blow-torch it, it just looks shiny and can melt quite easily.

The collar also needs more attention but I need to look at being careful with the finish, so a bit more research into this before the next stage.

Really useful sculpting Videos on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4waaHk-gI8_dzywddif1hQ7z-6eDa-Ro

(Polymer Clay is quite close to Monster Clay) and this guys tutorials are really good.

to be continued…

Jareth – Sculpture project

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Ever since I got back from my Model making course at Pinewood Studios (sounds so fancy doesn’t it) I have wanted to do a bit more sculpture, if I lived in a perfect world I’d work on massive sculptures, but I just don’t have the room or resources to do that.

But what to sculpt… I love David Bowie, one of my all time favourite films is Labyrinth, and the title of this blog post kind of gives it away, so I decided to try making a Jareth bust. I had managed to source some Monster Clay a little while after my course, but not done to much with it, although I loved the fact I could just restart and go again…

I had started to sculpt my whole fantastical animal in Monster Clay, but I then decided I wanted to make it as a proper stop-motion puppet (another blog needed for that!).

Then I kept seeing this super curvy lady who had an incredibly tiny waist, so I started to sculpt her with the intention of casting the ‘underbody’ of another stop-mo puppet in foam from it, but I could never re-create her incredible figure.

So unhappy with them both, they spent some time in plastic and I am now deconstructing them.

Putting the plastic on, keeps dust and muck out of the Clay

But I found it a useful process to actually work with the Monster Clay,

I didn’t have a hot gun, or blow torch and trying to warm the surface of the Clay up with a normal hairdryer was not successful, but worst of all it kept blowing everything on my desk about. I don’t have a sculpture studio so found this quite maddening to use. I also found that my tools were somewhat lacking, so these sculpts got mothballed whilst normal life carried on.

Then Covid 19 hit.

Sat at my homedesk a lot more, I started to look up Monster Clay techniques, tools and tutorials. I discovered that Francesco (tutor on the prop modelling course) was doing Monster Clay lives on Twitch, so sat watching those, alongside other YouTube videos for good research before I got started.

And eventually got down to making the armature for my Jareth.

Carving some foam to make filler for the head

Hot gluing the foam head former onto the wire and baseboard

adding foil to pad the shoulders

So using the foam and foil on the wire is just to bulk out the inner of the model, it makes it lighter and cheaper than working on a solid block of Monster Clay.

I had already made a moodboard of images from the film, showing hair, face and profile, and choosing which ‘Jareth’ costume I would be trying to create. (top left)

Bowie – Jareth Moodboard from various stills and promo images

To get the clay super soft and mouldable, I heated the large tub in the Microwave (it’s non toxic) and then started to add substance to the skeleton.

you can see how warm the clay is at it looks quite shiny at this stage, I was just using a plastic loop tool to pull the soft clay out of the tub.

Clay Loop & Ribbon Tools - The Compleat Sculptor

loop tool – mine was a plastic one found at my local craft store

Then I needed a little more precision to try and get some basic facial structures in place, for this I was using my Christmas Present of metal carving tools…

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12 piece Wax/Clay carving set

trying to get the brow shape and frown right for my chosen image

Making sure to keep checking my reference images I then worked on the mouth and a little more work on the nose and brow, looking at it from all angles…

From some angles I was really pleased with it, but I was starting to want some better tools, finer with more precision, the metal ones I was using to carve with just weren’t fine enough, I also wanted some of the really small tools, like mini loop tools that I had seen quite a few of the online tutorials were using.

I started to look, but wasn’t having any luck until I discovered they are actually called Sgraffitto tools, used for making intricate patterns, traditionally on clay pots.

I bought these online/ebay because they were the closest to what I was after before I discovered Sgraffitto!

And whilst on Ebay I bought myself a chef’s blowtorch too, just make sure you have the right gas/fuel to go in it as they don’t like to sell the little ones with gas ready to go!

So with newly acquired tools, I continued on, and for some reason decided that I would add in some glass eyes as I was finding it tricky to make the eyes look ok, just in Monster Clay.

Adding in Glass eyes

I didn’t want to fiddle too much more with the face, I was fairly happy, so moved onto making the elaborate collar. Monster Clay came into it’s own for this.. one of the qualities of Monster Clay is that it can be totally molten and then ten minutes later, quite solid and rigid, so I only needed to prop the collar for a little while until it held it’s own weight.

I rolled out a piece of clay on a board and shaped/cut it to size whilst it was soft and flexible, trying it in position and adjusting and then as it hardened applied it onto the shoulders with more of the very soft clay

It wasn’t until I re-watched the film and kept rewinding and forwarding that I realised that the collar is even more elaborate than I thought, so I need to add another point here and it looks like bones hold it up in the film… more work to be done!

My working desk

Adding details to the chest area, such as clothing, and refining the collar

I think my most used tool is my retractable craft knife I’m finding it amazing to be able to really carve with it on the Monster Clay (once it’s set really hard of course).

Up to this point I’ve been quite happy, finding that I’m managing now I have most of the tools to hand.

I even find some websites on how to make my own Sgraffitto tools, awesome! I’m still watching and trying to learn though, I’m not quite sure how to get the right texture/finish on the face, but I’m enjoying the process.

But now I’ve got to think about the hair….

Creative Media Skills- Prop making Course – part 2 – practicalities

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with Francesco Fabiani at Pinewood Studios – 08-04-2019

The first task was a combination of sculpting with Plastiline and making small batches of Biscuit
Foam to use as starting points for bulkier sculptures.

Further fine sculpting tips, including hair, scales and manipulating the medium with hot air guns
or hairdryers on high to either soften the material or to leave it with a shiny surface. Using a fine
pointed tool through 3 layers of plastic, makes a good base for skin and wrinkles, or a curved
ended tool for scales, the plastic softens the marks and smooths the edges of the indents.
Using monster Clay is easier than the Plastiline as you can microwave Monster Clay and it
becomes very pliable very easily, however once the main blocking out is done, keeping a piece in
one hand is usually enough to keep it mouldable.

Francesco assessed everyone’s sculpture to see the best way of moulding in silicon ready for
casting the following day. I did a simple box mould, but we also had a 2-part mould and some
mother/jacket moulds.

All moulds were made with the same silicone and it went off in about 2 hours. It was vital to
mix parts A&B really well as some students ended up having to redo a mould because of an
unbalanced mix. It was also much easier to mix larger batches in larger bowls, but to start with we
were all making up smaller amounts with inconsistent results. TIP: pour the silicone from high up
so you have a thin stream of liquid going into your mould which will help with air bubbles.

The baseboard needs to be treated with some kind of release agent before starting the mould
making process, we used simple Vaseline brushed thinly on and it worked well.

Box-mould

The finished sculpt was placed on the baseboard and we used cardboard to build the walls, these
were hot glue-gunned to the baseboard around the sculpt to prevent any of the liquid silicone from
leaking out at the join.

Just ensure that the cardboard walls are an inch or so away from the edge of the mould, and try to
be efficient with the shape.

De-moulding was really awkward as the cardboard we used took up the silicone into the ribs
making it tough to get my mould out.

Being a block mould you cut into the back until the blade touches the model at a jagged stepped
pattern to give registration for the mould. The blade needs to be super sharp and slightly longer
than the normal scalpel blade.

The awkward shape of my sculpt made it very tricky to pull out of the silicone, part of the original
breaking off. I personally think it should have been a two part mould.

Two part mould

Lay your model on a bit of support of wet pottery type clay then build up to create a mid-intersecting layer of clay, as smooth as possible to start and then create your registration points,
channels, a pouring spout and vents if needed for tricky overhangs etc, so you can create your
first layer of silicone which will be poured on top of this clay base.

When the silicone is fully set, take off the cardboard wall and carefully flip the whole thing over,
exposing the pottery clay underneath, without moving the sculpt, remove the pottery clay and
clean up/wash the edges so both the sculpt and silicone are perfectly clean, remake and glue the
cardboard walls, grease the silicone with a little release agent (we used a brush and Vaseline)
over the silicone face. Fill any gaps around the edges and put in the other side of vents etc with
the pottery clay. Then you are ready to cast your second layer of silicone to complete the 2 part
mould.

The two part mould method looked very awkward, adding the soft clay took a long time for the first
pour ‘bed’ as every hole and edge needed to be sharp, clean and perfectly aligned in the middle
of the sculpt. Registration marks and channels needed to be smoothly added and of course took 4
times as long as the block method. (Clay, 1st pour, clean, 2nd pour)

The jacket mould method is quite messy, but is very economical with the expensive silicone. You
wait for the silicone to go slightly gloopy then add it over your sculpt until it’s covered. Then a
similarly gloopy layer of plaster is added over the top to add rigidity to the silicone mould.
None of the originals were removed from any of the moulds until all elements were set, (silicone
and plaster). With one of the jacket moulds, the plaster was added in two halves, so that the
mould and original could be easily removed. The first half was allowed to set, again with a jagged/
stepped edge to provide registration for the two parts, then a release agent (Vaseline) was liberally
applied and the second half was added.

Resin Casting

Once the originals were out, the first material we were offered to cast with was Resin. This was a
two part resin using equal amounts and for the smaller items, a straight all resin cast method was
used. For bulkier items, like mine, we coated the mould with a ‘slip’ skin of resin material, which
was tricky as the resin takes a short while to go off, and trying to get an even coat on such an
uneven surface was pretty tricky.

The resin is slightly exothermic in reaction, so aside from it hardening as it cooled you could tell
when it was ready, whether to add another resin layer -which I needed- or to be filled with the
(same) biscuit foam to make it light and strong. About a 20 minute wait to firmly set, but I only
needed to wait a few minutes to fill it with the biscuit foam.

On release my resin cast broke, again the shape was awkward, so in hindsight a block mould not
really ideal for the original sculpt.

The first cast in the white resin had lots of marks seemingly left over from the original sculpt which
left it looking unclean.

The next material offered for casting was Black Gun Foam, 3:1, A to B. This rose a small amount,
but was tricky to get a full slip cast as it goes off extremely quickly.

This was then filled with the soft foam 2:1, A to B. The soft foam was exceptionally squishy and
expanded really well, to fill the cavity within the gun foam slip cast, but it was added whilst still in
the mould.

On release I could see that the finer, or slimmer areas of my original sculpt just hadn’t been
reached by the gun foam, and this is due to the quality of the media, it’s thick, so getting into
underhangs, undercuts etc was exceptionally tricky in a block mould.

This made a very squishy head, but with a more resilient rubber skin, I think that the gun foam,
which also comes in white not just the black that we used, would be very useful to make a harder
element for a model, such as a vest or tie, or hat, or very useful for miniature elements for a set. It
also takes detail really well.

I then wanted to use the soft foam by itself to see what detail it would get and how it would work in
the silicone mould.

The soft foam has quite a bit of rise and again is very quick. Francesco advised not applying
pressure on top of the mould as it would ‘pop’ the structure of the rise, impeding it.

The resulting cast was exceptionally soft, but lost a lot of detail, the surface being very cell like and
having open foam texture, not how I expected it to be at all.

The soft foam would be useful to bulk out a characters form, but this could also be achieved by
wrapping, trimming and shaping upholstery foam, as we currently do.

Conclusion

Although I got to work with a wide variety of mediums and experience casting and moulding
firsthand, none of them are suitable for casting stop-motion models with armatures in from.

I sculpt, I mould, I cast!

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Creative Media Skills- Prop making Course – part 1 – experience with Francesco Fabiani at Pinewood Studios – 08-04-2019

Pinewood Studios Entrance

What an experience! I managed to get onto this great prop making course at Creative Media Skills in London, not expecting to turn up to Pinewood Studios!

Once in their comprehensive security it was cool to be able to wander around and see all of the building of sets and moving of large kit in the massive complex (but aside from the photo from outside, you are not allowed to take photos inside).

The course was geared towards learning about casting and sculpting for the animation course at work and the practicalities of the week are laid out in the next post – Creative Media Skills- Prop making Course – part 2 – practicalities

But this is my experience, looking more in depth at what I made and the experience and knowledge I gained.

First of all we were introduced to our tutor for the week, Francesco Fabiani,

Francesco is a professional prosthetics sculptor and has sculpted prosthetics for some of the worlds largest productions such as Star Wars, The Mummy and many other block busters whilst working at the legendary KM Effects 

Francesco Fabiani

Francesco showing us how to make the biscuit foam – this was the only time that this desk was this clean!

Our first task was to sketch out our idea for a prop, then we went round the room and Francesco tweaked our ideas to work within the course and the resources we had.

I wanted to make a prop head, which although wasn’t strictly a prop, he said I could try it as it would use a box mould, very common for prop making. A few weeks previously I had gone along to a sketching network evening and come up with a character and this is where I started from.

The first practical task was to make a base ‘armature’ to sculpt onto, so the model didn’t end up being solid sculpt, both costly and impractical.

Francesco favoured using Biscuit Foam, a 2 part foam, that we all mixed a batch of and then cut out our base shape.

Biscuit Foam after mixing – it nearly went over the top!

The carving did of course have the restrictions of the beaker shape, but it worked fine and by the end of the first day I was fairly happy with my little character.

I enjoyed this part almost as much as all the other stuff, just being given time to sit and concentrate and sculpt, with everyone else in the room doing something different, it was lovely.

If there was one thing that I wasn’t happy about it was the hair, it was too blocky and I was having trouble getting to grips with sculpting it better.

So the next day I was able to talk to Francesco and he helped me with some technique tips and brought over one of his models to demo how he did hair, so there was something to copy – his model was amazing of course…

Francesco Fabiani Sculpt

Francesco Fabiani Sculpture – using Monster Clay

so with his beautiful model in Front of me I tried to recreate the texture and movement of hair within my own model.

and it was a vast improvement, it looked much better and although it felt as though I hadn’t done much, I was really happy with how the hair now looked.

We then moved onto adding some texture with a variety of clever techniques, such as crinkling paper and essentially ‘rag-rolling’ the surface of the skin, or using a sculpting tool through layers of plastic to soften the edges and make more subtle marks. The Plastiline we were using to sculpt with could also be heated with a heat gun to smooth the surface.

So in the end we had all made our various starting models, from hearts, to carnival masks and pieces of fruit.

The next process was to make our mould. First we all had to make our individual moulds, mine was a box mould, so literally had to make and secure my head onto the wooden slat and form the box sides out of old cardboard which I then hotglue-gunned to the baseboard.

mixed up the two-part silicon rubber mix, poured it in – crossed our fingers that it didn’t seep out and then leave to ‘go-off’. (about 2 hours)

After a longer lunch we all went back to see what we’d got!

 

Inside the mould

The mould looked really good, the hair detail looked like it was there, but I had a slight problem with the complex overhang of the nose and lip, so the weakness in the biscuit foam base meant it broke, but at least the mould was good and I could rework the sculpt to keep.

So after making sure the mould was cleaned out of any bits of plastiline that got caught we could now cast in a variety of mediums. First was a hard white resin, which as it had a longer set time, I managed to get into all of the awkward areas, so got a successful cast with this, but it is a brittle material, with a white cream colour, which you could dye beforehand and some others used a metal powder dusted into their mould before pouring in the resin, to get a metal finish to their casts.

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It was also obvious that I hadn’t cleaned my mould as well as I thought so I did do another cleaner cast in the resin at the end of the course.IMG_4506

Then we tried Black-Gun Foam, a soft and squishy material which gave a good smooth surface, but it works so fast, that the few of us that tried had varying success, with the foam not always getting into every nook and cranny. The Black-Gun Foam was only used to make the skin, the inner cavity was then filled with medium soft foam.

I was very interested in using just the softer foams with regards to students at work using it for model/puppet making for animation, so that was the next thing I tried. Francesco warned me that it wouldn’t work well, but I wanted to do it, so I could see and have a model to show students what they would end up with if they did it.

The soft white foam was so squishy it would not be firm enough to use, it didn’t capture detail and the surface of the foam cast was also too porous to use by itself, so you would need to put a skin of some sorts over it, which really negates the point of casting it from a model and carving it out of block foam as we already do would be just as good.

One of the other students work: Mask made using metal powders, hard resin and finished with glass paints. This used the jacket mould method.

So by the end of the week we had made casts in several materials, learnt how to sculpt, make moulds and with the variety of models in the room I got wide ranging experience of what works and doesn’t really work and the problems presented with various methods, box, 2-part, jacket mould, etc.

My biggest tip? Make sure the two parts you are mixing are correct – I put Part A of one foam and Part B of another together and then lost 2 hours cleaning out the gloopy mess that I had put in my lovely mould! so Check, Measure and Check again before mixing!

Whilst waiting for casts etc to go-off I also carved a hand for fun!

It’s official, I went I mould, I casted!

Wish I could do one of these every year, would highly recommend the course content – although their admin was all over the place!

I also know that Francesco was a last minute replacement for their usual tutor, so the content was not the norm, in fact it sounded as though it was normally a little restricted as everyone usually makes the same thing… so for me this was a far more valuable experience!

Bustard flies again @norwichfringe

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Great Bustards will fly again in Norwich, well my interactive sculpture and feather animation version of a reintroduction of the species back to it’s native Norfolk will.

I’ve been accepted as an exhibiting artist in the Norfolk and Norwich Fringe Festival line-up this year, alongside my fellow recent NUA graduate Andrew Logie we will be part of the undercroft programme.

On every day from 11-25th October http://www.norwichfringefestival.co.uk/

Launch on the Saturday, come and see us!

I’ve been testing everything still works and it’s looking good, I just hope my supplies of extra long wire make it in time…

Putting the Bustard in it’s place #greatbustard

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The Bustard sculpture is now practically finished… I could probably sand and sand and re plaster indefinitely, but I’ve decided to see how it looks in the space.

Taking it up the stairs is helped by it being light and still in two pieces.

I know the area I’ve been given and have a few options as to which orientation it could be.

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On the right, it’s a good size in the space.

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I borrowed a leftover label from the (now shut) BA show to place on the base to represent the label reproduction from the Norwich Museum…

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I want visitors to lean into the sculpture to try and read the label, thereby triggering the animated projection which will cross the wall…

Looking at the space, I’m wondering if it’s possible to animate over one wall and around the corner to fill the walls a little more…plus now I see the sculpture in the space I realise it’s not going to take long to cover the one wall I originally thought of, purely because I’m working life-size…

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This is what you could see on approach as they are building a wall on the left and another to the right, which the plinth represents…

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So would people just peek in, or would they come into the space. They would need to come through the space to reach the other installation, which makes a bit of a path through ‘my’ area, but I need it triggered.

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on the left

 

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wpid-dsc_0029.jpgThis side could make people look around the edge wall and then just move on, I can obviously mark up the mat with ‘step on me’ or similar, but it would be nice if it was a bit more unexpected and natural.

I need to know whether I’m getting a false flat wall put in on either existing wall, or if I have to deal with the sockets and radiator and door with glass window in.

The space left behind from the right hand side new walls makes a lovely corner space, with handy plug sockets for my Augmented reality plinth, but totally bisected because of foot traffic through it…

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On the other hand, plenty of the spaces I saw on the BA show you had to walk through, so maybe I shouldn’t worry.

I could maybe ask for the entrance to the 2nd installation to be at the other end, but that would leave a scarily big space!

The one thing I definitely do not notice when it is place inside the space, are any lump, bumps or plaster imperfections, that I have been a little obsessed with working with it close up in the 3D workshop.

It’s decided, no more sanding, move onto the next bit…

 

 

 

Great Bustard sculpture, looking good

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Update on the ongoing sculpture, just the sanding to go and it’s making a real difference.

 

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Before and after of the sides.

Sanding takes the lumps out beautifully.

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Looking at the model on his legs and I am still thinking about whether to snip the long ‘h’ support bar down, or to dig into the sculpture underneath so that the support bar doesn’t show at all..

When viewed from my height it’s fine, but if you look underneath or are just a bit shorter you can see the metal prongs…

It’s balanced very well, is still light enough and looks great, I can’t wait to put it in situ and test some projection onto it.

Smooth operator #greatbustard #plaster #sculpture

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Getting back In the workshop after a week meant that my sculpture has had long enough to really harden and gives me a chance to examine what my next step to finishing it might be.

Looking over the model, the modroc has done a fair job, but, there are still fibres and ridges present.

I have some options,

1, just to modroc again, this could of course leave me with exactly the same finish as I currently have, fibres and ridges due to the nature of the application…

2, modroc another layer and whilst still damp apply a thin skim of fine casting plaster, this could be quite messy and complex and the speed with which modroc goes off may not give me enough time to make a batch of fine plaster and apply it to good finish, plus if there are any fibres and it’s wet, they may well come up through the skim and give me problems when trying to sand as they will pull out to the modroc leaving a small hole in the model….

3, just use the fine casting plaster to do a skim over what I have, this may be the best option as long as it is able to adhere to the hardened modroc layer underneath.

I think the best result will be had from going with option 3, and fully wetting the area to which I will then skim on.

Jim shows me a test piece that he has experimented with, in order to look at the adhesion of fine plaster directly onto a polystyrene former, without using scrim underneath (which was my alternative method). It has worked quite well, but he shows me what happens when the polystyrene flexes and parts of the plaster pop off and cracks. So moving my sculpture is going to be the trickiest part, this is where any stress on the plaster will pull at the tension and cause cracks or fissures to appear.

So I dive in and get the right wing fully wet with warm water and quickly mix up some fine plaster, just to a fairly thin consistency and start to apply…

As I put it on I am shocked by how quickly it starts to dry, it really doesn’t give me as much time as I’d like, I’m guessing it must be the thinness of the plaster which is making it harden off before it normally would. But I grab a bowl of water to try and smooth as much as I can before it starts to harm the finish. I have a couple of places where it pulls up the skim I’ve just put on, let’s hope it holds on enough to get through the show.

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Although this technique is getting the finish closer to what I had envisaged I’m glad that I didn’t start with scrim and plaster, I think I would have put on too much plaster and the scrim would still have left the fibre problem, which I had on the base…

I turn the sculpture onto its side so I can more easily cover the whole right wing and almost decide to leave that to dry before doing anymore, but, this would take a ridiculous amount of wasted time in between sessions, so I turn the Bustard onto it’s stomach and start to cover the other side.

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I get the left side and tail done before lunch and leave the back and head until the afternoon.

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Because of the medium I am working so quickly I get the back, head and neck done in just two hours. The head shows a big improvement in quality of surface, from lumpy to smooth and I’m now looking forward to sanding this all over.

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This should be the final surface, bar painting, and I will experiment with paint on some spare plaster pieces to see if a satin, gloss or natural sanded plaster will be the best hold for projecting onto.

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Trying to make best use of the time left in the workshop I still need to sort out the gap that appears when the body is placed onto the base, so using up some of the modroc I increase the height on the ‘shorts’ of the bird.

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When the model is dry I need to remark the metal bars on the body so it sits nicely, and check whether it can still manage the weight of the sculpture with all of the added plaster!

I am surprised by how little plaster I have had to add to smooth over the whole surface, each time I mixed up a new batch I always had to throw some away, even though I was only making up a small amount… Of course I ran out on the head, but think I just got away with that…

Next session will be sanding and hopefully testing projection thereafter.

All together now

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Another short session in the plaster room gives me just enough time to beef up the Bustards legs… They’ve been looking a bit skinny at the top, so I have decided that by using some shaped polystyrene I can fatten them to give a better shape with a hint of muscle, as you generally see at the top of a birds leg…

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This now resembles what I have come to call the ‘shorts’ as on the live bird these are white, just like the underside of the Bustard itself.

With the two parts sat on the bench in front of me, I couldn’t resist putting them together to see how the legs worked and whether the plaster underside had affected how the sculpture fitted in one piece.

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It’s really tricky to put together on the floor as I can’t see the marking for the holes, but it sits quite steadily and there’s no weight imbalance (at the moment) the legs and the body work well as a single piece.

It does look impressive, but the plaster underbelly is preventing the metal struts from sitting ‘into’ the sculpture as it did when it was just polystyrene, so there is a gap between the legs and the body which will have to fixed.

I need to remark the strut holes whilst the model is on a raised dais to ensure a good fit for the two sections.

Smoothing dilemma – a real ‘head’ache

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Being able to leave the sculpture over a couple of days to really dry off is helpful, but the problems I face getting a reasonably smooth surface are quite apparent now it’s dried.

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wpid-dsc_0247.jpgThe head and neck area are the worst affected, and the photos of the face above are after I have spent a whole morning using sandpaper on the lumpiest bits, but this in turn brings out the fluff of the bandage, a real downside to the modroc sculpting method. If you don’t get it smooth on application, then sanding it reveals the material. Rather than if I had applied traditional plaster I would have been able to sand it as much as I liked (well down to the polystyrene former). But of course that would have made the model an awful lot heavier and the thicker skin would have impacted on my original carving.

My next step will be to apply another layer of modroc, but at the same time a skim of plaster, trying to work a smooth surface as I go, understanding a little more of how the modroc works. I will need to apply the regular plaster skim at the same time, so that it adheres to the still damp modroc surface.

I need to make sure I don’t apply too much plaster as this will totally cancel out the benefits and reasons that I used the modroc in the first place…

 

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