Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Part Two of Winter Giveaway Sculpting Tutorial

Hey Folks,

Long time no talky..........wassup with that????  Well, it seems the bad economy is finally really hitting the southwest, and I got news recently that my husband might be without a job soon.  So, while scrambling to create more shadowboxes, sending out the ones that sold, working on the sculpt............blah, blah, blah, I got very behind in blogging.  I hope you'll all forgive me.  I've been trying to get around to see different friends, but it's been difficult.  To have your future a question mark is needless to say, a little unsettling.  We're in our 50's and I'm disabled, so prospects are a little dimmer.  I'm not thinking negatively, just realistically, and I'm gonna' pray that everything works out, but prepare for the worst.........that's the way I roll folks.  I'm on very strong narcotic drugs for my chronic pain issues, as well as other medicines, and without insurance I might have to seriously face withdrawing from the narcotics..........and I've gotten older............I'm more of a baby than I used to be!  REALLY!  I don't know if we'll be able to keep our lovely home either, as we've been struggling with payments since my husbands employer cut his pay back over 20% before Thanksgiving.  Hey, I'm sure it will all work out fine...........I'm trying to not stress about it, too much.......what can you do anyway?'s part two of my sculpting tutorial.  I actually have realized that there might be more posts of the tutorial as I'm pretty anal and I'm trying to show as much as I can without actually filming my every move (hard to do when you're all alone).  My apologies to Lynn Stevens my winner of the sculpt, as the recent events have pushed my progress back a bit.
In the first part of the tutorial I mentioned letting
the piece dry and crack.......well, here it is after
the first stage of drying and cracking.
Don't be discouraged by the cracks after you let the sculpt dry the first time.  All you need to do is use a little clay, moistened to a paste like Spackle and use your fingers to apply the clay over the cracks, filling them in.  You can even dip the piece in your water, or run it under a faucet quickly to get it all wet, and then proceed to smooth the piece all over with your hands.  Your piece will turn out nice and smooth, like this:

My methods are not exactly the same as other sculptors that create their pieces from their imagination.  When I'm copying an image, there's a lot more manipulation, or adding and subtracting clay as I'm trying to match the image proportionately.  When creating a piece from your imagination, you tend to be a little more relaxed and liberal with your sculpting...........hence the imagination part.  I will never profess that my pieces are exact copies or replicas of the chosen image, as I'm not perfect.  However, working from a one dimensional image and coming up with a three dimensional piece still uses a lot of knowledge of shape, volume and a some imagination.

At this stage, I thought my sculpts cheeks were too small.  I had
also started a base to build up a hat on.

I thought I would create the holly garland around his neck using
berries and holly leaves that I had on hand.  After realizing it
was too much work, I found some smaller scale holly garland
online from England.  I'm waiting for it in the mail, but the scale
will be much more proportionate.
 Here you can see where I'm adding clumps of clay to expand the shape of the hat.  The base I built is basically a frame to work with and is hollow to speed drying time.  However, after adding clumps of clay it's creating a little more mass and will take time to dry, but not as much as if I had used solid clay.

In building up the hat, I'm able to get it more proportionate to
the scale of the piece.
I've added more clay to the cheeks, head and
hat.  I will still have to refine it further to replicate
the look of the image.

Hey I did say I was anal!!!!!!!  The majority of my time is spent at this stage, adding and subtracting clay to get the proper shape.  I will then let it dry and crack one more time, and then proceed to final  refinement.  Final refinement will be using my Xacto knife and carving back where I feel the shape needs to be more defined.  In the next tutorial I will show you the carving stage, and most likely the finishing portion, as well.

Till next time.........

Have a great week.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Okay, shadowboxes are in my shop.......go get em'...........Please!

Hi Folks,

Well, I finally got my most recent shadowboxes in my Etsy shop, so pop on over and buy a few....okay?  LOL

As I mentioned in my last post, I just started on Lynn Steven's (my winter giveaway winner) sculpture, and I had only gotten this far:

So I worked for as long as I could yesterday (1.5 hours) and step by step I'm going to show you how far I got, kind of like a come along!

Okay, so here is the Styrofoam and wire armature.
As you can see, most of this sculpt will be
Styrofoam, and very light.

Here's the armature in relation to the image Lynn has
picked as her sculpt.

I get the 1 pound packages of "Paperclay," wholesale, and I only
open one at a time.  I then cut the block into quarters, and place it
in an airtight Ziploc baggie.  I only use one quarter of the
pound block at a time to prevent drying out.

These are the tools I work with most often.  I use a very thick
cardboard tube to roll out my clay, a knife, wire cutters,
pliers, craft knife, ruler and 20-22 gauge wire that I have
doubled and twisted for legs and arms.

I usually keep one to two "ice-cream" buckets, (yeah, we
eat the cheap stuff) of water handy for moistening the clay
as I work, and to wash my hands in between tasks.

This is a close-up of my most favorite tool, and handiest tool.
Yes, it's just a cheap ole' kitchen knife ($1-$2 in most grocery stores).
It may be cheap, but I can get a lot of dexterity out of this thing.
I use it for cutting, obviously, smoothing, extracting clay (cutting
away) while wet, and even for adding details.

I roll out my clay to about 1/4" thick, and depending on what
I'm placing it on first (i.e. the head to start with), I usually keep
the piece whole, lift it up, dip it in water and proceed to the next

I place the whole piece on the head part of the
sculpt, and then proceed to smooth it down.
Once I've conformed it, somewhat, I then proceed to
rolling out more clay and continuing the process,
until the figure is covered.
As you can see here, I've gotten most of the
body covered.  It's in a very crude shape at this
time, and I will continue working, and
smoothing with both my hands, and my
little kitchen knife.
Now, depending on the subject, I will either
continue to smooth and refine the surface,
or let it start drying, as is in this case.  The
subject is a chubby little snowman on a red
sled.  As we all know..........snowmen are rarely
completely smooth.  They usually have bumpy
exteriors and uneven surfaces, and so will this
little guy.
At this point, I will let him dry and crack for a few days, and then begins the real work.  Once I start "carving detail, and reshaping him (using my Xacto craft knife), I will then cover him with a layer of gesso and then proceed to the painting step.  At this point, I will ponder whether I am going to make his little ski hat out of a knit fabric, or clay, and decide whether to create the garland of holly leaves and berries around his neck using silk plants or clay.  I really prefer to make everything out of clay, but due to shipping and excessive handling, I will tend to go the fabric route just for safety sake.  I hate for my sculpts to arrive damaged, and detailed items like the holly necklace would definitely suffer in transit.

My next post will be of the carving, painting and finishing steps..........I hope you decide to hang around to see the progress.

Lot's of hugs,