Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mustang Project. How do you go about sculpting a monumental Mustang? Part III: Bulking up the armature.

As you may or may not know, bronze sculptures do not spring fully-formed from my forehead.  Before a sculpture is finalized in bronze, it usually exists in both clay and wax, and even worse: as a negative, first in rubber and plaster, then in ceramic shell. Even the original clay version of a sculpture requires a great deal of work, especially for larger pieces.

Before adding clay to the completed armature, I use foam to pack the interior. This reduces the overall weight, and keeps the volume of clay to a manageable level. One and two- inch thick sheets of foam insulation are cut to shape, wrapped in tape, and then placed on the armature. I glue and screw these sheets together so they form one solid, lightweight mass. Then the sculpture is ready to receive clay.


Covering the armature and foam sheets with even a thin layer of clay is a big job. In order to rest my hands for the days ahead, Lynn organized a small crew of family and friends who worked all day - or until their hands were too sore to continue

Finally, the strange-looking beast is ready for me: after months of preparation, I am more than ready to launch into clay work.

 During this process, I work with manic energy as the sculpture slowly emerges from the armature. I take a bucket of warm clay, scoop out a softball sized chunk, squeeze it repeatedly, push it in place with a swiping motion, then repeat until each bucket is empty. In the early stages, I am simply trying to build mass where it is needed most. I go through bucket after bucket and at the end of the day I am frustrated that my arms and hands can take no more.  It becomes my own multi-day sporting event.    

Each  evening I return home utterly exhausted, but (almost always) with a smile on my face. 

No comments:

Post a Comment