Monday, May 31, 2010

The Sound Of One Arm Sculpting

Despite having my good arm next to useless, spent the morning working the figure. More to give the clay a little TLC than to get any actual modeling done.

Plate project continues to be almost, but not quite, successful. Each cast has at least one defect that's probably significant enough to keep it from being sold. Going to be a lot of cool factory seconds around.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Success! of a Sort.

Made a second mold, larger, with better attention paid to parting line. Was rewarded with this fine looking first pull. Not perfect, but certainly promising. Got a second one poured despite having elbow surgery yesterday. Thinking that a little more patience may be the key ingredient (always in short supply around here).

Update: Got one! Not the next one, but the one after that. Had to carve out the parting line a tiny bit, and it seems to have helped. We'll see if I can get 10 more, and then start the next plate. Qualified success!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tools of the trade

Not much to it, and pretty low tech. I probably use the two horizontal tools at the top and the long loop on the left 90% of the time. Like my entire collection of tee-shirts, I don't think I bought more than a couple of these - most of them just arrived. They work fine, but I lose or destroy things too easily to get particularly attached to any of them. That loop at the top was the understudy for my good loop, but then the good loop snapped, and now I can't imagine life without the one pictured here.

I know people who are fanatics about their tools, who make tools, and keep them oiled in canvas pouches. I feel the same way about them that I feel about artists who keep beautiful sketchbooks- I love it, and I wish it were my style, but that's not how I work. I'm tough on tools, use any stick that comes to hand, rarely keep my sketches, and make no preparatory drawings. I wish the process were prettier, more picturesque, or more dramatic, but really only when I get a look at somebody else's beautiful studio or elegant process. Like this here.

Evan Hecox from Incase on Vimeo.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mold 1, Sculptor 0

I said I would speak more about the conceptual, and less about the technical, but not today. On hiatus from the figure (more on that later), yesterday I got back to work on something I've wanted to do for the last couple years - casting these plates in ceramic.

About a year ago, I looked into getting them produced in a ram press by the very smart and talented Mark Lueders over at The Ceramic Shop, but in the end, Mark doesn't set up the press for runs of less than a couple hundred, and I wasn't ready to commit to those numbers, or that level of retail involvement.

A couple of months later, Mr. Steven Weber assured me that making a slip casting mold on my own would be "easy". Of course, there is really no such thing as an "easy" casting process, particularly on your first time out.

Started by making some slick foam-core molds. Problem was, I made the walls before I put the plates in, which meant I couldn't really see the edges of the plates, which meant I didn't do a great job defining the all important parting line.

Not doing a great job defining the parting line means that things get stuck, and have to be broken out, rather than coming out cleanly.

In this case, all of that didn't matter, because I actually dinged the surface of the mold while trying to get the pieces of the mold to separate, so even if the parting line had been perfect, and the plate had come out like a muffins from well greased tin, it wouldn't have made a difference. Dings like that you can't fix.

I did another version that day, which I didn't take pics of, but which looks promising, and which I'm hoping to get poured tomorrow. We'll see.

I had another technical set-back on a whole other project today, but more on that later.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Watch this space...

I told my friend Denise (the same Denise that took this excellent picture) that in the future I would try to use this space to discuss the intellectual process along with the technical. This is a problem for me on a number of levels, but I will try. Not tonight, but soon. Soon-ish.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday, 5/17

Mostly full day in the studio.

Unusually anxious and depressed today, which made for slow going. Still, I've got elbow surgery coming up next week, and I'm trying to put in some good work this week so I can be molded and done before we leave for Maine. All of which is to say, this is no time to mope around.

First of all, realized that I needed to get the bow and arrows started. I've been thinking that I would make them after molding and casting the main figure. It wasn't sure how I was going to get all the pieces to register and look right, but I figured I could figure it out later. As I looked at it, though, I realized that almost no matter what I did, I was going to want the bow to go in front of the leading leg, which means getting it in place now. Glad that I did. Turns out to get the angle of the bow right I had to shave probably half an inch of clay off the rear leg, along with all the folds I've been screwing around with and getting wrong over the last couple of days. C'est la vie.

I'm not sure this is how the bow is going to be in the end, but it's a start. In my research on bows and arrows, I found a bunch of pictures of Amazonian tribesman hunting with tiny bows and incredibly long, almost spear-like arrows. These aren't those, but I might try that out tomorrow. Hopefully it will be warmer. I've got to work out some of the details in the feet, but on a 60 degree day on a concrete floor I just couldn't stand to have my shoes off, which meant I had no reference. Better to wait. It takes so much longer to get what I think I remember to look right than it does to just take a few minutes and look.

Here's a shot at the beginning of the bow and arrow, with me in for a sense of scale. Despite what it looks like, I don't dress like a monk in the studio. That's a sweatshirt with the sleeves rolled up, under my excellent Finish Line Apron.

And here's the piece as it stands.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, 5/14

Spotty week in the studio. Couple of hours at a time, over a couple of days.

A lot of general detail work. From here out, I'm guessing that the pictures won't look too different, day to day, or week to week. Worked to resolve the folds in jeans, the feet, and the flip flops. May have gotten a little overzealous in the watering - much of the day spent working around soft, gummy, clay. Tricky to strike the right balance. In the long run, too wet is better than too hard - there's no cracking, and less risk that the whole thing will fall off the base. That said, it's impossible to develop specific forms when the clay is soft and sticky.

My mom was in town yesterday, and she asked how much longer it would take. Hard to say, really. The form is essentially finished, so now it's kind of a question of how long I can tolerate working the surfaces. I'm reminded of what my friend Robin said about painting a room -"I hate knowing that, even under the best circumstances, I'm going to have to touch every inch of the wall, twice." This is like that, except I'm going over every inch dozens and dozens of times.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday, 11/5

Unexpectedly good day in the studio. Went in feeling like there were other things that needed doing, but decided to stick it out. Doesn't look like much from these photos, but good progress was made on multiple fronts, particularly in regards to texture.

There are so many interesting surfaces in play right now. I probably spent 3 hours today working out the different strategies for defining the hair on the pelt vs. the hair on the belly. Amazing how compelling that kind if thing can be when you're in the thick of it.

Getting much better at maintaining the clay. I didn't intend to spend so long working the helmet today, but the clay was perfect, and that made my choice for me. One of the many things I like about clay is that variability - soft over here, a little stiffer over there. Part of the experience of clay is knowing when to work what - make the big changes when soft, work the details when firm, etc. Another layer added to the multiple conversations going on in the studio.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday, 7/5

Full day in studio. Started out dithering a bit, hard to get started. Added detail without much conviction. Got better in the second half of the day. Rebuilt some of the folds in the jeans. Got the right hand to a place I'm happy with - hoping to bring that type of finish to the rest.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Friday, 4/30

Half day in studio.

First minor material setback. Corrected with a piece of foam armature.

Otherwise very productive morning. Significant changes to the helmet, and started to bring in texture on the pelt. Good changes, I think. Particularly excited about the rolling edges of the hide. One of the those nice moments where you get to bring old, obscure knowledge to bear. Having skinned things as a kid in Maine, I have first-hand knowledge of what a raw hide looks like.