April 26, 2010

Trying to make up for lack of talent

Well, Blog, as planned I spent the weekend launching my Diana Sculpts a Human Figure Project.  I'd amassed a ridiculous amount of tools and supplies and got myself a copy of the awesome book Creating Lifelike Figures in Polymer Clay by Katherine Dewey.  So on Saturday morning I set everything up, extricated Cody from the middle of the work table, and got started.

The first step was to make eyeballs, and while I was at it, I made several sets in different sizes.  They'll be handy for other stuff in the future; I mean, you know how often a person says to herself, "If only I had some miniature eyeballs handy right now!"  The eyeball making went fairly well, and as you can see, the results were completely acceptable.  The green eyes on the lower right were for my current doll project.

After lunch I started working on the head.  First you make a foil core, then cover it with clay, then add various clay "appliques" to it and manipulate it to the right shape.  The eyeballs go in...more refinements...etc.  You put the head on a metal rod or thick wire, add the neck and ears, and there you go!

Supposedly.  Except, Blog, you have to factor in my complete lack of talent.  And also that the detailed directions are not always entirely accurate (understandable with a process that cannot be exactly precise).  By the time Katie (who undoubtedly would have the talent to do this if she were so inclined) stopped by, I had a rather scary head.  We agreed, generously, that it needed work.

After more hours during which I several times obliterated the nose, I had something not quite so horrific.  However, it looked like a male.  More precisely, some sort of "missing link" type male.  You'll notice I did not take photos of this stage, Blog.

It was time to go out to dinner then, and later in the evening I had "fresh eyes" (not clay eyes) so pulled out the head again to re-examine.  I was able to recognize some competely wrong aspects and fix them.  I did totally new lips.  And of course obliterated the nose and half the ears a few times.  It was almost midnight when I was more or less satisfied (or defeated, depending upon your interpretation).

Eight hours into the project, I still didn't want to take pictures.  Bad sign.

Sunday morning I started work on the torso.  Again, you start with a foil core.  I took a picture of this core but just picture an unmentionable body part made of aluminum.  Etc., etc., until you have a fun torso-like shape.  I must admit I rather enjoyed putting a tush and breasts on this shape.  The human body has such nice curves and stuff.  More problems but not so many this time.

I really need to put a photo in here, Blog, before you bail on me for lack of visuals.  So here you go. 

I had a rough time adding the head to the torso because the neck was too long (the torso is too, but let's just suppose she's willowy).  But pushing it down squished the already too fat head.  Oy, why did I ever start this?

I had a mood booster though when I added the eyelashes.  The technique was my own devising.  I bought some human-hair doll eyelashes and was actually able to superglue them to the clay eyelids.  The glue also made a nice glaze for the eyeballs!  Sweet!

[By the way, the doll-person is going to be staring in wonder at something she holds up in her hand.  I have no idea what it's going to be, so comment if you have any ideas!]

So, into the oven went the piece at last.  I'd like to say that the photos you see here are the way she came out, but actually, I made more changes after baking.  You really can carve baked polymer clay and so I did, making more adjustments.  (Face less fat, back muscles less bulky, etc.)  Finally I just took pictures and called it (inaccurately) good.

So it took me about 14 hours to get what you see here.  And she still needs arms and legs...it's frightening.  I really don't know what I would have done without the set of 3D renderings my artist pal CC prepared for me according to the planned pose--those were invaluable!  And will be even more so in the arm and leg stage.

I am a sculptor much in the same way I am a sketcher:  I manage by doing things over and over until they are approximately right.  Approximately.  It takes me an eternity to achieve what real artists do, only of course not as good.  In view of this fact, Blog, doing something like a human figure is a real pain in the polyclay arse.

I'm really hoping against hope that the addition of paint and hair to the head will make a significant difference.  I tell myself, shave my head and don't let me wear makeup, and I look like Yul Brynner on a very bad day myself.  Actually, he's WAY better looking even then.  So, that's my current hope and prayer.

As for the body, which isn't great but decent, it will have the advantage of clothing.  Although honestly, she has it all over me, body-wise.

At least for now, until the arms and legs go on.  We may end up with something that looks very much like half of Dr. Octopus.


  1. Loving this Diane! Keep going. You are doing great!
    Now for this question....
    [By the way, the doll-person is going to be staring in wonder at something she holds up in her hand. I have no idea what it's going to be, so comment if you have any ideas!]

    How about a just off the conveyor belt Krispe Kreme???
    (Sorry...haven't had carbs in over 2 months...) :~0


  2. Thanks, Con! And a Krispy Kreme??? Now I must admit, that would be HILARIOUS. 2 months without carbs, oy! Now THAT requires talent!