Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Precious bits and pieces

click image to enlarge and see details up closer...
I love this photo of the making of my Ronin sculpture, taken in 2009 I had just finished a day in the studio and had packed up the pieces I had cast to take home and joyfully saw off the Sprues, then file and sand and clean up the seams, this was sometimes done by slicing along the sides carefully with a boxcutter blade and then sanding back till seamless. So here they are all snug in my bag ready to come home with me.
And no I did not make these by casting straight from my or anyone elses hands, or feet. I did base them on my own hands and feet as they were the easiest to reference being attached to me I didn't have to worry about paying a life model to sit for me or make a friend go through the torturous process of sitting still for the many many hours it took to sculpt them. I would have looked quite funny to anyone watching, sitting bare footed cross legged staring at my foot intensely for hours whilst sculpting a blob of clay in my hand. Many people were constantly traipsing through the shared sculpture studio.
I sculpted them from clay using wood and plastic sculpting tools (I often made the tools myself too out of wood or plexi acrylic sheet shaping them on a sanding machine as I was always losing a favourite particular tool).
I found though to get the cupped hand to stay upright and not sag or distort whilst the clay was still very wet was to take a rough plaster bandage cast of the outer underneath of my hand in the cup shape, a simple one not worrying about details, purely to fill with padding material ( I found and reused some old soft polystyrene sheet material) which served as a cupped cradle for the finished sculpted clay hand to sit in and stay in the right shape till I was ready to attach it to the rest of the body and make a mold of it. Because I spent about 9 months or so working full time 5 days a week just on the clay before I was ready for casting it all together, it was tricky making sure the clay stayed in shape, didn't dry out,shrink, go too mouldy (it did a lot and that was a whole other problem) . So each part had to be carefully mist sprayed with water (with a few drops of clove oil) continuously and wrapped and re wrapped a million times in gladwrap and plastic bags. I had to go over and over it delicately scraping of a thin surface layer of mouldy clay and replacing it with fresh clay. I couldn't go away for a long period of time as it had to be always tended to, had I gone on holidays during that year I would have returned to a shrunken, cracked dried and mouldy disaster. So by the time I had reached the resin casting stage I was ecstatic! And those pieces in my bag were my precious babies, the fruits of many laborious months.