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….

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.

Tail End #greatbustard #sculpture

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I know I only have a half day in the workshop to day so decide to focus on getting the tail covered and as smooth as possible, unlike the head which is disappointing.

After the success of the back of the bird yesterday I work harder and with more water into the dipped area which would be the space between the feathers on a real bustard but is more like a gentle dip on my sculpture.

It takes such a long time, but the results do come and I work a few strips from the centre to the outside with the forethought that when I move onto the outer tail feathers I will bring the strips over the top and on top of these.

It takes a lot of modroc just to do the inner dip and I have to buy another kilogram for me to continue onto the sides.

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I work methodically along the tail, doing two sections at a time and cutting the modroc to the right size, this works really well and I get a lovely smooth finish on the feather sections, if only I could have achieved this over the head!

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Eventually the tail is completely covered and looking good.

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I cannot resist putting the body onto the legs and having an overall visual check.

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It’s looking better and better all the time, it still seems to balance well and of course will dry and lose a little more weight, although the wings are yet to be plastered.
As the workshop shuts at 12.30 on a Friday I need to jiggle work to get myself two more half days, hoping to finish the sides in half a day each.

At this point I decide it will be best if the sculpture stays in two pieces until the week before the show, I might even see if I can manufacture it in two parts that perfectly fit together so that it can be easily transported after my show as well.

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This birds got legs aka the Bustard stands again…

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Day 3 in the workshop carving my bustard sculpture as I arrive in the morning, the first thing to check is how well the pieces have stuck together… Unfortunately it looks like the glue really hasn’t had time to set overnight, on the main body and where the head and tail attach…I can’t afford to lose anytime at all just sitting around waiting for the glue to go off, so I strap up the body with a belt and decide not to touch the head or tail for as long as possible.

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I use the big saw sparingly as it vibrates the whole structure, and instead use my trusty Japanese rasp, which is a beautifully constructed thing…

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I work steadily through the sides to bring them in a little as my Bustard was looking too round past the widest point.

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I quite like the rough marks left by the edge of the rasp, almost imitating feather edges.

I start to work on the head, gingerly and then I get a big shock as the head join comes apart and the head almost flips back on itself… this is not what I need to happen at this point, I can’t make glue dry quicker!

Making sure I am even more gentle and keep even pressure on the top of the head, I carry on, dreading that happening again.

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I manage to get a good Great Bustard head shape carved, they have quite angular features and no more scary flip top heads, but it’s the glue, it’s still not dried!

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After lunch I move onto the tail, I know full well this is still a wet join as the two parts were sliding a bit and I had to turn it back round as the middle was not matching up with the centre piece on the tail, but gently and slowly work my way round the outside.

wpid-dsc_0163.jpgit’s looking quite good, I’ve trimmed the sides, shaped the head, managed to smooth the tail and get the shape right, but I’d like to cut into the tailpiece, rather than have it solid. I decide to cocktail stick the two parts together in the hope it might help and start to cut into the very centre of the tail.

In a real birds tail like this it would only be a couple of feathers thick, obviously working with this polystyrene I cannot make it that thin, it will just tear or break, so I try to mimic the outer shape at least to give a hint of the real tail.

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And that’s about it for carving.

I have thoroughly enjoyed it and have now found a reason to have big shoulders…carving! The best work out for your upper arms you’ll ever have, 3 days solid of sawing, cutting, pressing and rasping.

But no time to stop and admire my handiwork, I need to get the steel armature done so I can start scrimming the shape with plaster tomorrow.

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Using a giant set of bolt croppers I cut my steel to length, for both legs, the 3 toes and the base platform to affix it too.

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Jim welds the base for me and we tack the legs on and then put the sculpture on top of the steel for the first time, it looks great, it actually transforms it!

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I am really pleased with how it looks, I’m just completely knackered! With me in the picture you can see for the first time, just how big the sculpture is when standing. It measures at just over the 105cm mark, but the feet and the base probably take up that extra 5cm, so it’s all good…

So I can get going straight away on the plaster work, I need to get a mesh onto the base, so the plaster has something to sit on, and my Bustard has something to stand on.

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Chicken wire does a grand job, even though I get scratched to heck and bleed over my metalwork,  we add on the cradle at the top and another strut on each leg in anticipation of the extra weight the plaster will bring and I manage to get it all attached in time… But then I remember we haven’t put the toes for the feet on…

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I know what the first job tomorrow is going to be!

 

 

Making my very own Great Bustard #greatbustard

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Today started my week devoted to the sculpture making part of my Masters Installation. I’ve been working on some measurements and have the finished workup ready to go. I have already been donated 5 sheets of polystyrene from a BA student who had finished all of his work and no longer needed the extra sheets he’d bought, but when Jim and I measured up, it struck me that the Bustard was looking absolutely massive and I had nowhere near enough poly to make the barrel chest of the bird. So I dashed off to B&Q to buy another 4 sheets, which I then dropped back at College, before going back home and revisiting my original measurements. Good job I did as I had the Bustard 1.2metres at it’s tallest when it’s only 105cm! The same information also had the body length at 115cm, but this was way too long. So with my new designs I returned into college for an afternoon of polystyrene sawing! BustardScupt_measurements-04First I marked out the biggest shape, that being the oval of the body which would be the biggest section, I would need to add on the head and the tail to fit in the pieces of poly I was working on…

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In hindsight, maybe I should have put as much as possible onto the sheet, ie, moved the shape to the bottom to have more neck and tail and just finish with small top sections, but it’s cut now…

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This is the first one cut, not too bad, the bread knife gives quite a good edge, makes it easy to follow the outline although it’s always going to be a bit messy with polystyrene!

So I just need to make 8 of those…

Cutting the polystyrene is quite hard work for my little arm and at one point I wasn’t quite sure I’d be able to get through 8 sheets, let alone all the other bits as well… It does take a considerable amount of time to cut the first 4, but then I find a little work groove and by the end I’m finishing them in 10 minutes a sheet.

So I have my 8 body sections and from the left over pieces of sheet I need to make best use of size to fit the tail and the head within the remaining poly.

A little bit of maths later and I’m marking out the head outline.

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I only need 4 sheets of this as the head/neck isn’t as wide as the body (about half – 20cm max)

I’m racing against time to get these 4 cut out as I need to get them glued before they close the workshop…

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Fortunately Jim helps me sandwich all the layers together and glues them with some strong wood glue and a few cocktail sticks for extra holding whilst they set.

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8 bodies, 4 heads, done.

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Jim checks out the right kind of rasp on a side section, so that I can immediately start when I get in tomorrow… But first I’ll need to cut 6 tail sections and get them gluing and then I can start sculpting.

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It really is going to be massive, the sculpture will stand just over a metre tall and is nearly a metre in length at it’s widest point (crop to tail), I can’t wait to get the sections together, this will (hopefully) be impressive… and it gives me a nice big surface to project onto 🙂