Sunday, February 27, 2011

Progress, progress, progress!

I wish I'd taken a picture of Nanning's head when I finished work today - I spent most of today on it and there are a lot of changes.  I'll just have to post the pic another day!

In the meantime . . . I've done a lot of work on his back legs and rump, and now he has four legs, which I'm sure will make him very happy!  LOL  Normally I work with the horse's feet on the ground and build up "grass" around his feet, so I don't have to pay attention to how "level" they are - it all works out fine when they're on the ground.  But this one's in mid-air for several reasons.  For one thing, the owner wants the piece to be of just the horse, no ground under him, and for a life-sized piece, that's a good design.  It saves money (less bronze to cast, less weight to support, less expense in shipping, etc.) and looks more natural than it would with a "pad" of grass under it as a life-size horse.  To balance, three feet have to touch the ground, so I've had to lower the right hind leg to have the toe touch the ground, which isn't the way it is in the photo, but it's only off by a few inches.  I also had to straighten his front leg, which is bent in the photo, so he would have two feet completely flat on the ground, which will make him stronger.

Here's how I'm checking how level his feet are:
That's a piece of cardboard (from a calendar) that I've cut a slot in so it will fit around the post.  The level is way off right now, but the right front hoof still has a wire sticking out of the bottom, so it won't be level front to back until I cut that off.  I was mostly checking to see how the back feet were doing.  They're not too far off, so I'm happy about that.

Here's how he looked yesterday before I did all that work on his head.  I'll post the revised (and much prettier) head soon.

I'm still not happy with his hind legs, but he's in such an extreme posture (he was playing - horses can get into all kind of extreme positions when they play!), it's hard to get it exactly right early on.  My way of working is to build the horse too big and with everything in place as well as possible to start with, then carve away what isn't the horse I'm working on, making adjustments, either tiny or large ones, as needed.  He'll be gorgeous and his pose will make sense once I'm done with it!  I think I have at least a month's more work to do before he's finished.

The jumper is painted and finished, ready to be mounted on the walnut plaque.  Here's how it looks finished.  It's name is "Rolltop."

It's on a paper towel that has black paint and gold Rub 'n' Buff on it from me finishing a bunch of medallions as well as this relief.  I'm happy with how this turned out!  I think it will make a beautiful trophy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Update on Jumper Commmission and Frieisian Maquette

The jumper commission ("Rolltop") is sculpted, the mold has been made and I've been making castings.  The first casting is usually one that has to be thrown away, because that's the one where I find the places where the mold catches on the resin.  When it "catches," that usually means the mold material has gotten stuck in the resin and torn off the mold.  These are usually TINY places, so they don't usually damage the detail of the mold.  The first casting also removes any clay that may have remained in the mold.  So the first one is tossed.  I've gotten a good casting now, so it just needs to be cleaned up (washed with Dawn dishwashing detergent to remove any oils from its surface), painted with a prime coat and then finished to look like bronze.  Here's are pics of it in the mold and right after I unmolded it.

The Friesian maquette for a life-size bronze is coming along well.  It's still rough, but the proportions are getting there, and some of the details are starting to show.  Remember, this is a work in progress - it will be in "the uglies" for a while yet.

His body is curved, as if he's turning to the left.  Hopefully it looks like that!  I know his hooves that are flat to the ground aren't quite on the same plane yet - that will come with a bit more work.  Ignore the position of the tail - it's just a "placeholder" for now. 

I try to work all over the sculpture at the same time, without focusing too much on any one spot.  So while the head looks almost finished, it isn't.  While the left hind hip and leg look nearly finished, they aren't.  Everything's being developed a little at a time.  I can see the beautiful horse starting to emerge, although most people will probably not see beyond his current not-yet-beautiful state.

I'm finding the hard clay difficult to work with.  My shoulders are sore all the time despite using a hair dryer on the sculpture to soften the clay before I try to blend it or add more or carve some off.  Some of my ribbon tools are being damaged from trying to carve this clay.  I sure hope the results are going to be worth the effort of using this kind of clay!   It's good to learn how to use a different kind of sculpting medium, but I'll be happy to go back to the soft clay I normally use.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Jumper commission is finished!

This was a fun break from the big pieces I've been working on.  I really needed to take a step back from the Friesian maquette and try to see where it wasn't working, so I worked on this little jumper relief on the tiny  bit of space beside "Tolt" on my crank up sculpting table.  Nanning (the Friesian) is on the worktable across the room with his big reference photo right behind him.  A couple of days of work on the jumper gave me fresh eyes for Nanning, so that was really good!  And I got this pretty relief finished just today.  The customer and I are both happy with it, YAY!

The first picture shows it at an early stage.  I worked from the rear end of the horse to the front once I had all the basic shapes in place.

Below, you see me trying a different jump than the one in the photo (which was a simple jump with standards, although a pretty one).  The original jump was awkward to make into a relief.  One standard needed to go across the rider's boot and the other looked as if it were stabbing the horse in the throat.  So I decided "no standards!"  I tried a coop jump first, but wasn't that happy with it.  That's below.

Then I did a rolltop jump and that's the right one for this piece.  Now all I have to do ("all" - LOL!) is make the mold box, pour a mold, clean up the mold, cast resin in it, clean up the resin, paint and finish the resin, mount the resin and the brass plates to the walnut plaque (my basemaker will actually do that - I'm not that good with power tools!) and voila!  It's a trophy!

I put the little bush at the end of the rolltop to show she's at a show - the rider also has a number card tied around her waist that shows on her back (which is why her back is a bit flatter than it might normally be).

I hope you like my little jumper relief!  It will be available as a trophy on my Trophy Gallery page once I get it finished.