Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ceramic Sculpture turban wrapped woman

Finished sculpting "Hint of a Smile" today. This is water-based clay called Chestnut that I purchased from Mile-Hi Ceramics. It's rather groggy but that can be interesting. This one dried a little faster than I would have liked, due to my deadlines for illustrating my book - so there are a few cracks in the turban. However, that too, may end up being a desirable thing - won't know for sure until it's fired.

I will consider using some epoxy to put in the suggestion of a pupil highlight after firing also.

With the eyes hollowed out, there is additional venting for the sculpt. I'm hoping that offsets how thick the turban ended up. I did cut her in half and hollow her out but added the turban later so that part is fairly thick.
This sculpt is just under life size. I'll post again with her after firing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

First wax pouring of miniature fox sculpture

This is my first time pouring wax in preparation for the lost wax bronze process. I have an old crockpot that I'm using to heat the wax. This wax is something I bought an embarrassingly long time ago and can't remember what kind it is. Karen, at Sculpture Depot, assured me that pretty much any wax will work and different kinds can be intermixed. I thought I'd be really smart and put the block of wax in an old metal can inside the cooker to keep the cooker from getting wax all over it. Nice idea, but it dripped and got wax it it anyway ;-)
I'm using the pour mold (commonly called a dump mold) that I made of my miniature fox (you can see on earlier posts). After melting the wax, I took a small cup, dipped it into the melted wax and poured into the mold. Then swirled the mold around and emptied the wax back into the pot. A layer of wax remained inside. I did this several times to build up layers.
1) crockpot with melted wax in can
2) wax in the mold (I tried tape to secure the mold but it didn't stick very well - rubber bands worked better)
3) the wax mold of the fox - it has flaws and the base would need to be trimmed.
4) I was anxious to see the wax and demolded too soon - the wax was still quite warm and broke.You can see how the swirling of the wax creates a hollow casting.
5) I figured it would take several tries to learn the process enough to get good results. Luckily I can simply melt down the rejects to reuse the wax.
6) Back into the pot for remelting. I tried again that night - but the wax wasn't hot enough so it was a tad lumpy. The results were another imperfect casting so will try again later.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New terracotta clay bust in progress

 I have been swamped with designing the layout and illustrations for my newest book for Operation Outreach USA. Love illustrating for them, but wishing there were more hours in the day. Also got word that my other book, Nana's Silly Goats has been printed and is currently being shipped to the states. Nancy said it's gorgeous and I must say the color proofs we reviewed earlier looked great so I'm really looking forward to seeing them. I'll be posting some of the art on my website soon.

Currently I'm working on a new bust of an African American woman. This is sculpted in Chestnut. It's clay left over from my class with Andi Mascarenas and so was a bit stiff to work with as it's rather old. But I couldn't stand to waste the clay, so while it was quite hard, I soaked it well and let it marinate for a couple of days, then wedged it a bit to work the hard bits into the mushy bits.

This was actually started nearly 8 weeks ago and shelved when deadlines hit. When I got back to her, it had gone well past the leather hard stage, so was a challenge to get working again. I had a heck of a time cutting her in half to hollow out! Once I finally got her hollowed and put back together, I worked in her shoulders and started her scarf. These are some early photos and I should have newer ones up in the next day or two showing the progress.

Still not sure what I think of Chestnut. It's a rather stiff and very coarse clay. You can really see the grit and grog. Sometimes I like the earthiness of if it, but other times I find it distracting. I'll probably compare it with some other clays after firing. The plus-sized woman that I sculpted earlier using his clay fired nicely. It comes out a very, very dark brown color, which is interesting.