Don't call me Barb.

Can you tell who this is supposed to be?

04/03/97- What I've done here is added some of this nifty Promat to the head which I sculpted & fired yesterday. This stuff is much stronger than Super Sculpey, and it doesn't blind you with its pinkish translucence. In other words, you can actually see the flaws before you fire it & primer it. (Not that I fix all the flaws before I fire it-- I'm much too impatient for that.) Also-- Although this is a lousy way of working, I'm making this up as I go along. After roughing out the body I realized that I really should make an armature, or structural skeleton for this figure. I think you're supposed to do this first. Oooops.

No, this isn't a scene from the Spanish Inquisition. In order to make the armature, I need to figure out what the figure is going to look like. Some sculptors can "read" the armature and actually "feel" how to shape it. I've tried this before and it always looked like a bunch of twisted wire to me. So I'm making quick & really rough sculpts of the proposed parts, just so I can figure out how to bend the wire. Once that's done, I'll have to embed it into the clay, probably squashing a lot of the shaping in the process. I just love doing things the hard way...(BTW, the sculpture is hanging just for the sake of the photo.)

04/07/97--Wow. What a learning experience. I've spent the last few days wrestling with the unfired torso and legs, experimenting with poses. This isn't easy when the legs have 12 gauge wires in them, and everytime you do something you leave fingerprints and deformations behind. Yarrrrgh. Lesson #1: Promat must be kneaded into submission, before doing anything else. I tried bending the torso and created major tears-- the same thing happened with the legs. Lesson #2: It's easier to work on small sections with hardened handles than it is to work on a large unfired mass, even temporarily mounted on a base. Why? You can manipulate it for sculpting so much more quickly and easily. Lesson #3: Know what the heck you want to do before doing it. This means, design the pose first! Otherwise you will end up very frustrated, with very dirty clay.

As a solution to my many problems, I ended up detailing the torso and firing it. This will give me a solid handle to grab onto while I work the legs. My original plan was to leave most of the sculpture unfired for as long as possible, so that any area could be tweaked up until that final moment. Hah! Any adjustments now will have to be conducted "under the knife"-- a more difficult process, for sure.

The lace-up looks kinda funky, and was just an experiment. It's very hard to get the clay rolled that thin with a consistent diameter. Craft wire would probably look much better, and that's what I'm going to try on the backside. Unfortunately I don't have any clear photos of her backside, so I've assumed that it's similar to the front. (My wife never really got into this type of attire.)

04/07/97-- Here it is again, with the legs fired and Fred Flintstone arms in place (holding Han Solo's blaster?). I'm playing with the pose, and before proceeding, should fix something that doesn't look right about the thighs. I've been dreading this, because this operation involves removing material. My initial tests left me anxious about the sand-worthiness of this material, since it's a bit rubbery when fired. However, armed with faith, I will place my fate in the hands of Polymeria, Goddess of Plastic.

Besides that, whatever you shave off, you can always put back on, right?

Below: Chicken-handed & the Truth revealed...

Oh yeah? Stick this in your VCR!

"Look out! She's got a bomb!"

04/08/97-- Mommy, I'm bored. I wanna play with something else.

04/12/97-- Epilogue: I finally found some time to paint it-- My confidence really wavers throughout a project and I was becoming anxious about whether the face really would look like Pamela Lee's when painted. Verdict: so-so. The right side face profile isn't quite right, but I didn't have proper reference photos to work with. (I wasn't one of the 30 people who actually saw the movie.) There are a few flaws that I had made a mental note to fix before painting, but forgot about: the nosetop ridge, the right lip ridge which extends into the cheek. Also, I never got around to fixing the hair, especially where it meets the torso. This is the stuff that got obliterated when I was futzing around with the legs. Also the arm & neck area. The AP-9 is too big. The list goes on and on... All this points to rule #1 if you want to turn out quality work: Get good reference photos, and take your time. Since I already knew this, it follows that I must not be too concerned about turning out quality work!?

More lessons learned: I've revised my opinion about the sand-worthiness of Promat: Initially, I did some dremel tests on fired material, and results were ominous, probably due to the heat that gets generated. Actual field usage with fine grade sandpaper and steel wool showed that you could get a good finish quite easily (if you made the effort [wink]). I didn't spend much time on this, but I think you could probably take it down to a really fine level by using plastic polishers.

Another lesson I learned was about firing: On the last oven firing, I made the depressing mistake of mounting the figure on the base and firing it upright. The figure is supported by a short section of 12 gauge wire which goes into the foot a short way, and into the base. Welllll...oven firing does soften the originally fired clay (of course), and gravity is not to be denied! When the ankle snapped, the thing fell, an arm snapped off, and a whole lot of scuffs and dings were added to the sculpture. I had to dismantle the oven to retrieve the gun which had managed to fall into one of the tiny holes in the oven floor. Naturally, I was a bit skittish about doing any more firings. Since then, I've come up with a potential solution which I'll use on a future project: Using polyfill stuffing to cushion the sucker, so the thing can comply with gravity and yet avoid flat spots. (Naturally, I'll have to test this out on a scrap before relying on this technique.)

My verdict on Promat: Overall, I like this stuff for it's firmness during sculpting, and the flexible strength after firing. My one big beef is that it tends to tear when bending a section that you'd worked on earlier. I'm halfway convinced that this is not simply a matter of inadequate clay conditioning. Fortunately, the surface repairs were fairly easy to make and seemed to be sufficient to prevent recurrences of the same fault line.


Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM