Monday, 22 October 2012

27th ENTRY - A Re-Proportioned Isolde

I work to my best abilities, knowing that this is the best I can do, whist at the same time suffering a nagging little notion that if only I allowed myself to push a little further, I could do better.   And the thought that this might be my last chance, that later, for one reason or another, I will not have this opportunity, or my talent will fade, which seems to happen, and therefore no, it will not do, I must do better. 

With the decision and need for a new armature, Isolde's bad proportions, which had been forced by the first armature, were open for adjustment.

Since Liz was struggling so much with trying to work out a functioning pattern for a dress to fit Isolde, adding more pleats and length in places that shouldn't need them, I felt she would understand and welcome my intentions to go back and re-sculpt Isolde.

I told her I would spend two or three days fixing her proportions. I would then make a new mould, cast a new costume mannequin, and take the new mould to John Wright for the new armature.

Eleven weeks later I had accomplished this.


The white modelling wax doesn't melt down very well, so it doesn't really pour into a mould. I managed to brush and dab it in.

I sliced up one half cast (front half) as a three dimensional sketch,
shortening her proportions.
I then brushed up a new full cast (front and back made separately)
and followed where I had cut and shortened the "sketch".

New tool. I noticed that sculptors tend to use a rake-like tool
to help keep the shapes clear and visible. I never studied
sculpture, so am constantly learning.
I made these two tools with sewing pins and polymorph.
Love them!

rake work

I finally purchased a Dremel, after spending hours
filing hard wax into a bottle and bowl, and reluctantly spending far too
long hand grinding down the armatures where needed, and often
just avoiding doing it. So now I was able to shorten the feet a little.

Another majour frustration. Light. Uneven light was making
it so tricky to see what I was doing.
I moved around the room a lot, as the window light
was affecting the lamp light. Finally I went and got a fluorescent
magnifying lamp, and moved from the centre of the room
to right between the two windows. And I was
blessed with a freebee desk on my morning walk.

New work station.

I know how artists are able to reach what others might describe as perfection, and then keep pushing things forward, sometimes losing that previous state of perfection and never regaining it again.  Innocent bystanders see the work as what it is, every time they look at it. But often elements will either bother, or be lacking for the artist, who will keep pushing forward, unaware of the present successful state of the work.  Often this means that the work changes dramatically and only a subtle ghost of that previous state remains.
The two images above are dated exactly one month apart.
I found that I would keep reworking things over and over again, even though the bystanders thought things looked good as they were. I would then look back at the pictures of previous states, and struggle to see what had changed.

Legs were still too long. Then too short. Then too long again.

Liz came in and looked, and, although I had reworked the hand down
in scale quite a bit, noted that they still looked enormous.
When I got my new lamp, I also picked up some thin copper wire.
I was annoyed by the thickness of the aluminium wire I had for fingers,
and this very fine stuff seemed just as strong, if not stronger,
and the fact that it had more memory bothered me little
given the fact that it was so pleasantly thin.

In my constant research, which mostly fails to find anything
useful, I finally came across pages about artists who
sculpt action figures using hard wax casts of their
initial sculptures for fine tuning the details by carving.
This seemed like the way to do it, but I need to find the right
wax, and it will be for next time.

I tested my new mould concept, described in the previous entry.
It looked promising.

Yes, I started using Lego.

Feet are something done differently this time.
She is on her toes to avoid verticals in the mould.
I also embedded nuts in the mould.
Successful silicone master.

Quick resin cast from the silicone. Interesting how
light behaves differently with a different material.

Unfortunately one ear was crushed whilst I removed the
rubber mould. I cast a new one from the rubber mould, but of course
nothing is so simple. Getting it to fit back in place is impossible,
so it required much work.

Wax walls surrounding figure to leave flashing canals.
I also brushed a thin coat of resin onto the face and some other
areas to protect them and force me to accept that they
were finished.

hands will be separate pieces of the top half of the mould.

As she had been sculpted in pieces, she came out in pieces.
A pleasant surprise that she resisted much less than previous
figures. Nearly intact. 

My best mould yet. And by far the slowest.
Because the resin heats up when it cures, I was advised to
keep layers thin, to avoid heating up too much and warping.
This made the process ever so slow.
Costume mannequin armature. Wire and polymorph.

Silicone cast - costume mannequin. Flashing canals helped.

Isolde version I, and Isolde version II.
Was it worth all that trouble?

P.s. her nose had an air bubble,
but being a costume mannequin I left it.