Hi everyone! I thought I would share my latest piece and describe the process as to how it’s made. It’s a long one, but worth it in the end…
First, I make a small scale model, about half life size, using water based clay and a live model (and what an awesome model I have in this guy!). I then make a rubber mold and cast the model in plaster. I then enlarge the model 3x, using an antique sculptor’s pantograph I am very lucky to own.
Then, I make a mold of the enlargement – not a rubber mold this time, but a piece mold, which is nothing but plaster, but in many many ( for this work I think about 60) pieces. This allows me to remove each piece from the model (or cast) with minimal damage due to undercuts. Some pieces for this work were about a square meter, some were smaller than my phone. So to make a cast with this, I take each piece of the mold and lay in about 3cm (1 inch) of water based clay, using a loose and tough clay body that is suitable for large work. I then reassemble the mold piece by piece, uniting the clay from each piece with its neighbors. After about a week, the clay has firmed up, and also shrunk a little bit which facilitates removal of the mold. I do this from the top down, and voila, a hollow clay cast of my enlargement of my original!
THEN, there is a bit of touching up to do, as well as any alterations I want (after all, this cast is made of clay!), and even some additions of things like locks of hair which are easier to create in the clay cast than to make a mold of. Then I cut the sculpture up into pieces small enough to fit into my studio kiln (interior dimensions about 50x50x60 CM, nothing industrial but a good size kiln.) I had about two dozen pieces to fire, which I did in eight kiln loads.
Finally, I reassemble the fired pieces using construction adhesives and cements, with a few metal tie rods thrown in where needed. It’s waxed with a little terpentine-based tint thrown in. I assembled this into four pieces, because if I put the whole thing together, I can’t get it out my studio door.
I hope you enjoy! I am currently working on the piece mold of the original small scale model, to produce an edition of small terracottas as well.