Recently, a friend asked me to produce a sculpture of his wife's dog Penny, a pedigree "Pointer".
Penny is such a pretty dog and we agreed that this would be non-exclusive commission whereby the sculpture would be of this particular dog and he would have the first casting but I would have the right to sell this as a part of the range of products on my retail website.
This is brief picture diary of the course of this commission from concept to casting and hand painting the final product. This piece was intended as a resin casting for hand painting from the outset.
It is important to decide early on what the final medium will be as there are a number of differences both in sculpting techniques and in mould making if you intend to produce a hot or cold cast bronze as opposed to hand painted resin.
The first thing to do is to take as many pictures of the subject as possible. If you cannot take them yourself you need to rely on your client but be specific about the angles and shots you need. If I'm taking my own pictures, I like to use a camcorder, as it gives me a good feel for the character of my subject, which if I'm lucky will get built into my work.
Next take as many dimensions as possible but definitely eye centres, length of head, nose to 'stop', head width and so on. In this case I decided that the sculpture would be to a scale of half-life size. I used Photoshop to scale up a few of the most relevant photo's to working size, I can then use the measuring tool in photoshop for detailed dimensioning around eyes and ears etcetera.
OK now to make a practical start. Hopefully I've accurately visualised the job in my head so I have a good idea what I need for the base and armature. I will need a flat surface for the bottom of the sculpture. Then because this will be cast in a vacuum tank, I need to create a reservoir space for the excess resin that will expand in the mould. Thirdly I need the base for the plaster back-up or mother-mould that I will create around my finished work. Finally I will set this on a work base. The resultant armature and base ended up as below
The base for the back-up or mother-mould will need some registration points - I will use upholstery nails for this later on. For now I am anxious to start sculpting.
I use a fairly hard oil based wax/clay which needs to be heated in an oven to make it soft enough to apply
After every job, I recycle it by melting it down, removing any "foreign bodies" and then pouring it into cup-cake moulds so that I end up with a stock of cup cake sized pieces of clay for future use. I've had this clay so long i can't remember where it came from
Now it is starting to take shape but the ears are a bit out of this world.
I like to use marbles or ball bearings for the eyes in the original if the piece is to be hand painted. They make for realistic reproduction but it is very important to get them at the right height, depth and centres otherwise you can end up with a figure that has eyes pointing in different directions, up down or sideways and it is nearly impossible to correct on the finished casting, even with painting.
I decided to make the short stand from neck to base, look like a piece of driftwood, it seemed like a good idea at the time and I couldn't think what else to do. It seems to work on the final piece.
On to moulding. . . . .
Hope to see you in Part II, thanks for looking