This gallery shows the different steps from the modelling stage to the finished piece.
This stage is all about getting the right feel of the piece. I need to make sure I'm happy with the whereabouts of the features and the size of everything before I can move on to refining it.
Day 1 (Ear)
As is normally the case when I start on the ears, they are too big (often in slightly the wrong place too!).
This was ok for an initial stab and allowed me to move on.
By the end of day 2 I was happy with where I had got to. I could (as always) still see areas where I wanted to make alterations, but as the degree of alteration was minimal I decided to call it a day.
Day 2 (Ear)
As you can see, the ear has taken on the correct form, without needing to be moved. Although I can't say the same for the other ear. It was too low and too far back. Still, nothing a cheese wire can't put right.
The first stage of the casting process is to decide where to put the clay wall. I like to make the line bendy enough that it will tend to naturally seat itself together in the right way. I also add depressions at irregular intervals to aid in the seating process.
The first stage of the casting process is to get into every nook and cranny with the coloured plaster. It's quite difficult to know how thick the plaster is at any point, so extra care should be taken to ensure that the blue is not just an eggshells thickness. This is important when we are chipping out as the blue acts as an indication that we are close to the surface of the sculpture and if it's too thin, we may just go straight through it and onto the piece itself. This is not so good (although it can normally be repaired).
The white plaster gives structure and strength to the mould. If this isn't thick enough then the mould may warp more easily. As we are using the two part mould method here, warping may mean that it won't go back together again as it should (again, repair is normally possible, to a degree).
This is a good reason to get the casting done as soon as possible after the mould has set properly.
Once chipped out (this is discussed in the Nose gallery), the surface of the piece is examined and if necessary, is repaired or adjusted. Normally, a flashing will be present where the two pieces are joined. It is better to chip this off gently against the plaster while chipping out, as it seems to break more cleanly.
Then some sandpaper may be required to get rid of any remaining plaster bloom. Also, some dental tools are ideal for getting the little pieces of plaster that seem to cling to any crevices.
Here, Mike has been finished with some blackboard paint, then brushed with a brass brush over the 'skin' areas. Then I have applied a verdigris wax to the 'hair' parts.
Mike is displayed here with his two friends, Gerald and Gerald.