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Life-size armature for water clay sculpture

 
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:38 pm    Post subject: Life-size armature for water clay sculpture Reply with quote

Hi Everyone,

My children sculpture maquette is here below.



I was all set on building this sculpture in water clay, hollow with no external or internal armature. I was just going to build a wooden bench and sculpt the kids on top of that. There is a gal on FB that sculpts life size hollow, from the feet on up and that seemed great to me.

Problem came about when my mold maker for this project explained that I will need to have an internal armature for the life-size sculpture or else the water clay might break in molding. The only other way to get around an armature is to kiln fire it, but I don't want the risks involved.

So.... I've never built an armature Smile This will be a challenge and I want to do it right the first time! Well, just wanted to share what I'm up to. If anyone has any suggestions that would be great! Thanks!
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Alison Belt



Joined: 19 Feb 2011
Posts: 201
Location: Baltimore, MD

PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2015 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've seen other artists weld steel bars and then round them out with wire and plaster or foam. I imagine you could use plumbing pipe as well, but getting any funny angles with that will be a bit more complicated. You could also have it digitally scanned and then made in foam which you could coat with clay and do finishing work on. Bridgitte Mongeon has a lot of process photographs on Facebook detailing that. Brian Booth Craig has some armature photos as well. I think Toby posted some stuff about it on here several years ago. HTH.
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Alison Smile I checked out Bridgitte's work and lots of pics of her latest project. She sure is having lots of fun. I noticed she likes to sometimes work with water based clay but for her big projects, she uses foam enlargements and oil based clay. I may have to go that route, but would really prefer to have all the beauty of water clay for my first life-size.

The main part that will be hard with water clay, other than making the armature, is to keep the clay from drying out. I probably will use WED clay. I've used it before, and the oil in it does make it react a bit differently than standard water clay but it still allows for expressive surface textures.

Brian's work is fantastic! I will check out some of his armatures. I recently started following his work on FB. I'll look through Toby's old posts and see what I can find. He is such an experienced sculptor and with life-size water clay sculpture.

Thanks again,

~Tamara
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Toby had a post on this forum about his first life-size enlargement and it was great to review that! Thanks Alison for reminding me.

http://heidimaiers.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=917&highlight=armature+water+clay+enlargement

He also was very generous in giving me some tips on how to do the armature for this. Below is a rendering that shows what I came up with, following his suggestions. By making two boxes (so that the children can be sculpted separately and then joined back together for reference) with two by four construction and plywood (shellac the exterior wood), I will have a sturdy support to sculpt the children.

I can attach the bench's top to these boxes and skim that with oil based clay for a wood texture. A flange mounted to the top of the box (through the 2 X 4 under-structure) and plumbing pipe will be the spine of the sculpture. Then use welding rod or large aluminum wire. I will use welding rod.

On top of this attach foam with duct tape and wire and then chicken wire to that. The only thing about the chicken wire is that my mold lady says it is difficult to cut through with her sawzall. So for the areas that she needs to cut, I will leave off the chicken wire for a 1 1/2" or so area.

Toby mentioned having metal tubes that are a roman joint at the top of the arms and the rod inserts into that. I am assuming that is for slightly moving the armature as needed. Also, it could be for removing the sculpture parts and reattaching. My question is, what keeps the metal rod from pulling out of the tube? All the styrofoam and wire will be a support but with the weight of the clay, the rod may pull out and this could cause cracking clay.



Her feet go underneath the bench, so for her, the box needs to be smaller and then I could use metal brackets for stabilizing it from tipping over.

Well, I'm close to starting now and so glad for all the supportive sculptors.
Very Happy

~Tamara
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This forum sure is quiet these days, but if you're like me, you still come back once in a while and enjoy reading the posts and reconnecting with everyone here.

Toby shared a photo rendition of what I could build to go underneath the children. I could use two boxes instead of one. For the under-structure, use 2 X 4's. Line up two 2 X 4's next to each other underneath the main weight of the sculpture which is under their bottoms. That is where the flange and pipe will be mounted as well.



The legs to the bench can be separate and added later in the bronze process.
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Glenn Terry



Joined: 26 Dec 2010
Posts: 54
Location: Minneapolis area, MN

PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamara, I sculpted my first life-size sculpture (1st ever sculpture) in water clay. The need to spray and cover each day, the cracks which developed anyway, the mold which formed on some surfaces...all are things I don't miss after having soon thereafter switched to oil based clay. I have found "Le Beaut Touche" by Chavant to be close enough to the consistency of water clay for a satisfying experience. So much less fuss and bother, plus the final clay can sit open air in your studio for years and be reworked later.

For my armatures, if I am careful with my study model I can fill out the shapes from that by building the figure out of wood with stucco lathe or wire screen applied over it. Sometimes I use metal wire or other metal elements where I want to retain flexibility. I use pieces of rigid insulation sometimes to fill in spaces. If my armature is in error, I can use a chisel, jigsaw, or sawzall to remove excess material.
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Glenn,

Good to know an alternative clay to use that resembles water clay. I will know, after completing this sculpture, whether I want to do a life-size in water clay again. I'm used to dealing with hassles of water clay in return for the benefits. But.... if I don't have enough working time then cracking will develop because of the internal armature. I'm hoping the sculpting will all go fairly quickly since I have a maquette to look at and simply enlarge (ha, ha).

Toby seemed to think my sculpture lends itself for a water clay enlargement. He sculpted these two children in water clay over metal armature and they are similar to mine in pose:
http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc1500/sc1545/apc_website/images/1545_2944c.jpg

Thanks for writing and sharing your method of doing enlargements.

~Tamara
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Chaz Wyman



Joined: 08 Jun 2016
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:46 am    Post subject: Re: Life-size armature for water clay sculpture Reply with quote

Tamara wrote:
Hi Everyone,

My children sculpture maquette is here below.



I was all set on building this sculpture in water clay, hollow with no external or internal armature. I was just going to build a wooden bench and sculpt the kids on top of that. There is a gal on FB that sculpts life size hollow, from the feet on up and that seemed great to me.

Problem came about when my mold maker for this project explained that I will need to have an internal armature for the life-size sculpture or else the water clay might break in molding. The only other way to get around an armature is to kiln fire it, but I don't want the risks involved.

So.... I've never built an armature Smile This will be a challenge and I want to do it right the first time! Well, just wanted to share what I'm up to. If anyone has any suggestions that would be great! Thanks!


First: superb sculpture. Love the expression the detail and the poses.
If you are going to get another person to make the mould then, take their advice.
If you are going to do it for yourself then I'd recommend taking the hollowing out and firing. The work involved in all that silicone, and making the jacket in the right number of pieces so it will come apart easily enough, is far more trouble than the minor repairs that firing could bring.
As long as the thickness is fairly uniform and the inner surface is well pricked, so as to let out any gases, you can achieve this is a day or two as opposed to the slog of layer after layer of silicone.
In any event if the firing is so bad and needs too many repairs to stand as a sculpture you can always make a mould of THAT. and being hard will be an easier job (but dont forget to seal the surface)
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Chaz (I like your name, by the way! Sounds cute and I like it having a "z")

I ended up going the route of having an armature. I'm still in the process of sculpting in water based clay over the armature. Here is a link that shows how I sculpted the original, made the armature with my uncle and dad.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9ZC1I4dG2U

I will post a finished video of the life-size once I get it completed. Smile

It would have been much easier to just sculpt this hollow and fire it but making the armature is what I chose. Maybe next time I'll go the firing way. Good advice. Thanks for writing on my post!

~Tamara
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Heidi Maiers
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 1223
Location: Near Portland OR

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Such great information and such a wonderful piece Tamara. You sure have come a long way and I'm loving watching you progress with your career! You make me want to retire my day job tomorrow and jump back into sculpting full force!
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Tamara



Joined: 20 Oct 2005
Posts: 954
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Heidi! I would love for you to do that. Then we'd get to enjoy all your new creations. You've been living life in the great outdoors (hiking and jogging in beautiful surroundings) and will be so fresh when you get back to sculpting that you will make something you and we love! Smile
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Heidi Maiers
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is so much to do outdoors here, it really has filled all my weekends and I'm loving it. I admit I'm really missing sculpting and the itch is real. I recently started a little sculpey head of my niece just because I felt the need to create!
That was my long time dream - to retire in a remote wooded area of the PNW, on a large piece of land with a studio separate from the house. We now have that property, and the studio is already built on it. Just need to build the house now over the next 3-5 years until we can retire there!

How did your kids above turn out? Do you have a link where we can view them finished? Where were they installed? So awesome you are doing life size now. I have yet to do a life size full figure, but it's on my bucket list.
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