From Sketch to Statue 2: Engineering, Ego, & Separating Pieces

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ENGINEERING the PROTOTYPE: For lack of a better phrase, there’s always a fair amount of ‘engineering’ that goes into the planning and initial phases of any sculpture. For example, it was much easier to make molds of the clay as pieces; separating the Lion Head, Cape, and Body, then to have one single sculpted work. The more work an artist does up front in this “engineering capacity,” the fewer issues they’ll experience as the piece matures toward final sculpture. Being flexible in your ability to work should be the foundation upon which a sculptor builds his work. Another reason for separating the helmet and cape was that at early stages of building the prototype of the Hercules sculpture there was discussion about making the final piece in something other than bronze. Therefore, in our case, separating the elements would have made it possible to go a route other than bronze without having to completely start over. In the photos below you can see the initial prototype sculpture is beginning to take shape. Although much work is still ahead, the proportions are being worked out. * TIP: “Mi Ego Es No Mi Amigo” *If you are un-familiar with the molding or lost wax bronze process, then it’s always a good idea to work with an experienced professional in either of these fields at the beginning stages of a sculpture. It will save time and money for you and your clients. For some creative professionals this means putting your ego on the shelf and gathering up the courage to ask for help. To share some great advice a friend of mine from Chile once shared, “Mi ego es no mi amigo!” LION HEAD HELMET, CAPE, & the USE OF WIRE MESH: One of the awesome things about Radical Publishing’s HERCULES is that the author, Steve Moore, kept many elements rich in the mythological tradition. As the myth goes, Hercules sought out and killed the Nemean Lion then wore the Lion’s pelt as a headdress and cloak. The wire frame for the sculpted Lion head was attached to some wire mesh screen. My apologies for not capturing this technique on camera. Due to our production schedule I had to focus more on completion than documentation. Once the wire mesh was in a shape that resembled the Lion’s mane, the piece was dipped several times in the Chevant clay that was heated to a liquid state. Using the wire mesh in this manner allows for easier manipulation on planes more similar to that of hair. Further, the flowing effect required to make something solid and static look flexible and moving, is more readily obtained through this wire mesh technique. The wire frame for the cape was made entirely of wire mesh. Once I got the flowing drapery effect similar to the Steranko cover image, I dipped the mesh into the heated Chevant clay several times until the desired thickness was reached. Similar to candle-making is one way to look at it, I guess. Either way, using this speeds things along. Again, I don’t know everything, and if you have tried another process that has worked well I encourage you to contact me with what you do, … I’d love to learn from you all!

First draft of Lion Head helmet

REFERENCE MATERIALS & SIZING of HANDS: In these and other photos, you can see behind the sculpture a lot of reference materials. In the case of HERCULES, body-building magazines are great to have around. There are many photos of lions roaring that you might see too. In this picture you’ll see that the hands are really rough. At this point in the sculpture I knew I had to get the fingers intertwined in the lion’s mane but had not yet made the decision on the exact framework. I like to use a technique that another great sculptor, Cindy Jackson, shared with me and that is to use individual wires for each finger. This allows the hand gestures to be easily manipulated as the sculpture matures. A bit later, once I put the individual arm bands on, I’ll make the decision to sever the hands away from the arms and attach them to the lion head. This was a great choice that later made the flexible mold easier to create and aligned the lion and HERCULES pieces together at future stages. I’ll elaborate further on this in the next step.

Lion Head helmet and Cape on Hercules

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