Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mystery Sculpt #2 revealed: Eleanor Roosevelt portrait bust

 Mystery Clay Sketch Sculpt #2 Finished.

This clay sketch is about 5.5-6" tall and is a portrait of Eleanor Roosevelt. The clay is a ceramic paperclay called Max's Clay. The paperclay has interesting properties but it doesn't tool very well in a subtractive manner - the paper drags, clumps and clogs your tools - especially rake tools.

It does additive work much better and is very versatile.

This sketch has been hollowed and is drying for firing later - then I will use the sketch as the basis for a larger sculpture - possibly in a porcelain clay.

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Mystery Sculpt - a clay sketch maquette

Back by popular demand it's a new Mystery Sculpt. This time I'll be sculpting a clay sketch (maquette) that may serve as a model for a full sized portrait later. I sometimes sculpt several of the person to work out issues of pose or clothing before doing a final work.

There are some photos of beginning the sculpt, which since is a sketch, is small....currently about 5" tall at this stage. I roughed in a basic skull and then began laying in some forms. And them my camera battery died.

So there is large jump from one phase to the next while the camera charged ;-)

I'll continue to work on this today and post final photos later.

Any guesses as to who this will be?

I'm sculpting this portrait using Max's Paperclay - ceramic clay.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Frederick Douglas Bust fired - introducing Clay Sketches

My historical portrait bust of abolitionist Frederick Douglass fired perfectly and is awaiting the patina stage later this week. In the mean time, before I start my next "Mystery Sculpt" I thought I would introduce you to my Clay Sketches.

While I love to draw, I find that my ideas for sculpture germinate more fully when I sketch in 3D. So I will create a loose sculpture in clay (oil or ceramic) that captures what I am trying to portray. Sometimes I will make several of the same idea with different twists. In this way I can work out balance issues (so important in sculpture), clothing and nuances of gestures.

So - here is the "sketch" of Frederick Douglass. The finished fired piece is in the background. The fired portrait is 16" tall (clay shrinks as it dries and further shrinks when fired).

The sketch is 4.5" tall. It will likely be about 4" tall when dried and fired - make it roughly 1/5 scale to actual fired portrait.

I personally love to the loose, painterly look of sketches. Don't let the term sketch fool you into thinking not finished - it is, but in a more free and sometimes more artistically pure fashion as I don't overwork these pieces.

I will finish drying and firing this sculpture - and I will begin to offer a series of sketches for sale. It will be nice to offer original, finished sculptures for a low entry price point -  I'll make an announcement when they become available. Each one will be an original. I may have several sculpts of the same individual due to the fact that I'm making small changes to find the right look - but each one will be a unique and separate work.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Amaco Pasta Machine & Great Customer Service

In addition to working in fired ceramic clay and oil clay for purposes of bronze, I do work in other mediums as well. I've produced work in air-dry paperclay and also in polymer clay. Sculpting in different mediums requires different tools. When working in polymer clay, I work in miniature and small scale, sculpting the human figure in the form of fairies and sell them on Ebay - perhaps I'll have some on Etsy soon.

One of my goals of working small and in polymer clay is to master this clay and do some work for the collectibles industry and by sculpting the fairies, I am teaching myself more about the medium and sculpting on this small scale.

When working in polymer clay is is imperative that you condition the clay careful to distribute the oils, soften it to a workable consistency and ensure blended clays and colors. To do this, I cut the clay into small pieces and feed them through my Amaco Pasta Machine. I'm sure that I purchased this piece of equipment 10+ years ago and use it for oil clay and polymer clay as needed. One day, while clamping it to my desk, the thumb screw on the clamp broke in two. I used epoxy clay to rebuild the thumbscrew and got another year of use out of it but it broke in two again when using on January 7th.
This time, I went to and contacted them about possibly getting a new thumbscrew piece to replace the broken one. On January 8th, I promptly received an email reply that they would send one to me.

Yesterday the part came in the mail - the packeage is postmarked Jan. 8th. Same day service! They not only sent the thumbscrew - they sent a replacement handle and clamp to boot. This is excellent customer service and Amaco will be at the top of my list for any supplies that I need in the future. Love companies that respond quickly go the extra mile.