Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Starting Bas Relief Medallion Commission

I received a commission to sculpt a bas relief medallion about 24" x 24". This sculpture will be cast in Forton or Aqua Resin.

To start, I scaled up my drawing and laid it out on a piece of hard foam.

Then I traced the shape out onto the foam board using a marker.
Next I used my hot wire tools to cut the foam away. This stuff is toxic so I was careful to work in the garage and wear a mask!

Once everything was cut out, I drew in some guidelines for the shapes and began carving away using a serrated knife.

When I had the basic forms started, I refined them using files, rasps and sandpaper to further define the medallion.

Finally I put on a coat of primer to seal it. This serves two purposes: to keep the crumbly bits out of the clay and to give an even 'tooth' for the clay to adhere.

I'll let this dry overnight and then I'll come back with some warm oil-based clay and begin sculpting over this armature foam.

DIY Clay Warmer for less than $10

It's winter and here in Colorado, that means a cold studio. Cold clay is not only really hard on your hands, it is also prone to become brittle and crumble - not good for working at all.

So I have a really inexpensive but quite serviceable clay-warmer that you can make yourself for under $10 or quite possibly free if you have these things around your house anyway.

I took an old clip shop lamp and a 60w bulb and clipped it onto an Omaha Steaks styrofoam cooler that I got free off Craigslist. Because the cooler is deep and so insulated, it heats quickly and evenly. Even in my very cold studio. This is better than the old cooler that I had because it is deeper the light if further from the clay and the heat bounces around more so I have more even heating of the clay without melting or making it too hot to handle.

Because I use several different brands and types of oil-based clay, I try to keep the labels with the clay to avoid mixing them up.
I also need to warm the clay that is already in progress so I keep a 20 year old Black and Decker heat gun or hair dryer handy. I can warm the clay in the area that I am working and the oil-based clay will go from extremely hard and crumbly to buttery soft quite quickly. Hopefully these studio tips will help you in your sculpting.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stan the Skeleton moves to my new studio

Art studios are messy places with more stuff than room. Tools, boxes, bags of clay, more bags of clay, kiln, molds, mold-making materials, scales, lights, photo equipment, files and photos, sinks, buckets, sponges, scrapers, wood, plumbing fixtures, hardware, tables, pedestals, works in progress....the list goes on.
So does the moving! I'm STILL in the process of getting my new studio space up and running full time. Finding the right place for everything is a challenge. Today's event was moving 150 pounds of clay and my buddy Stan.
Stan is a life-sized reproduction skeleton (I don't usually keep the real kind around ;-) that hangs around my studio so I can reference the anatomy when I'm working on figurative sculpture.
My family isn't very sad to see Stan go. They were never too keen on coming down to the basement where I was working and running into him. I really should dress him up more for holidays....perhaps this year a Santa hat.
Too bad the car windows are tinted.....could have been fun for the other commuters to see Stan in his seatbelt.