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Traditional ceramic bust demonstration
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Heidi Maiers
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Joined: 23 Feb 2005
Posts: 1223
Location: Near Portland OR

PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:54 pm    Post subject: Traditional ceramic bust demonstration Reply with quote

Below is the final photo of the bust that will be demonstrated, from start to finish, in this thread.



Hi all,
I think I'll go ahead and post a more expanded demo than that old mini demo I have on my site now. This new bust is perfect for this demo, so here goes.
Ceramic is by far my favorite clay type and besides, it's dirt cheap (pun intended), easy to find, and delicious to work with.This is my latest (gorgeous) client and I must say what a pleasure it is to be able to work locally and have a live subject. Especially since that means I can take a full set of photos and get measurements, which is impossible when working long distance, or if the subject is deceased.

Anyway, this bust will be modeled full size (although it will shrink 10% when fired) and will include her intricate diamond necklace. I am also going to make a turned ceramic pedestal style base for this with a real silver finish on it. The bust itself will have a hot patina applied and will simulate real bronze Ė this is a new technique I learned and am anxious to try it out (on some test samples first, of course).

For the photo session, my husband and I built this large turntable so the model could sit in the chair, assume a pose, and be rotated and photographed without interruption. A white paper drop is placed behind the turntable and photos are snapped at every 1/16-turn increment. 3 full sets are taken at 3 different eye levels.




Along with photos, I use a large pair of calipers to get a rough set of measurements. I made this simple sheet to illustrate and note various distances. If I were going to make a different size bust (say 75%), then I would take each number and multiply by .75 to arrive at a set of 75% life-size measurements.


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Last edited by Heidi Maiers on Sun Oct 07, 2007 12:29 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now that I have the subjectís information, I can start on the bust. I start with a galvanized plumbing pipe screwed into a flange that is screwed into a board that is secured to my modeling stand. I slide a hefty bag over the pipe since water based clay needs to be kept wet and air tight between sessions.
I loosely wrap the pipe with newspaper and then tape a paper sack over the top that has been filled with shredded paper. Because this bust has shoulders, I make some shoulder supports out of two toilet paper rolls and twisted paper running across the length and through of both of them, and secure them with masking tape. When the bust is finished, Iíll simply slide the bust straight up and off of the armature and let it dry.



Now the fun begins. Starting from the bottom, I add big slabs of clay and work my way up. I cover the armature and rough in basic measurements of the head. I mark a centerline down the front and back of her head and tilt her head in the desired pose. At this stage, the clay is very soft, so I inserted a pipe under the chin to keep the head steady while this underlayer is allowed to stiffen for a day, loosely wrapped in plastic. The clay will become quite firm and will act as a support for the additional soft clay as itís added.


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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The next day, the clay is hard enough to support fresh clay, which is added as the bust is roughed in a little more. Toothpicks are inserted in the earholes to make it easier to visualize the horizontal line of the face and keep things symmetrical.




Once the bust is roughed in, I can slide a photo into a clear sleeve, draw the outline with a white board marker, and remove the photo, leaving a ďwindowĒ I can use to check proportions. I simply hold up the outline and look through it lining it up against the bust so it fits at the same angle and eye level. Then I can carve/add clay where needed. This photo sort of shows what I mean, although I donít have it lined up correctly while trying to look through the camera lens and plastic at the same time, but you get the jest of it.


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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here, most of the features are roughed in. This is roughly 30 pounds of clay so far. Eyes and ears come next, then rough in the hair.




Normally, I donít hollow them out, but in this case, because she has such a long, thin neck, I decided to reduce some of the stress on the neck by making the head a little lighter. Here, Iíve cut open the skull and removed the shredded paper sack and about 5 pounds of clay, leaving the head walls about a half inch thick. The clay is stiff enough it will support itself, yet still wet enough to bond back together well. I score and wet the seams, put the pieces back together, and fill the seam with really wet clay, then reshape the area. The area will be covered with hair, which will reinforce the seam further.
Well, thatís as far as I got for now. Stay tunedÖ


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Tamara



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

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Heidi for this tutorial! She is a beautiful subject to sculpt. How fun! I like the toilet paper roll trick for the sholders! Cool Lots of good tips in this. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.

Usually, you don't like to mess with measurements, so I was wondering why you decided to do it this time? Just curious. Maybe because it's lifesize it would be so easy to check the measurements and wouldn't slow you down too much.

-Tamara
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Heidi Maiers
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Location: Near Portland OR

PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Tamara. Having measurements makes life easier, but it is so rare that I get to actually meet and work with the client live. I have learned to work without measurements since I rarely can get them. Even when I have them, I just use them from time to time to keep things in check. With this bust, it has to be exactly no more than 18 inches tall, or it wonít fit in my kiln. I really need to get a bigger kiln! Ah well, itís on my wish list.

As a side note, I thought I would add to this demo this photo of the tools Iíve used to get to this point so far. From left to right are:
    - Pair of calipers for measuring
    - Wooden tool with flat end for adding clay
    - Wooden pencil for marking point, drawing reference lines
    - Wire loop tool with a flat end and round end for removing clay
    - Wooden wedge for cutting planes
    - Saw-toothed metal kidney tool for shaping and blending planes (my all time favorite tool)
    - Rubber kidney tool for smoothing and blending planes



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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here she is almost fully roughed in. Most of the hair, eyes, and ears are stuck on and the volume of the body is filled out a little more. Now it's time to really study the photos and start developing a likeness.




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Last edited by Heidi Maiers on Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:48 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Tamara



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

PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heidi- I'm really loving how this is coming along. Her side profile is especially beautiful. The hair sweeped up that way looks so nice.

Look forward to more pics.... Smile

-Tamara
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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 26, 2006 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Tamara,
Here's what the back looks like so far. Looks a little like a melon head at this point. Doing the clip and fluff of hair at the top should be interesting, but since those parts will be thin, I'll do them later.


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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A little farther along - still working on the likeness. Not there yet. This is the part that takes the longest - moving, adjusting everything until all the pieces fall into place.
I ordered a cheap Dell computer with a 17" flat screen to put in my studio so I could see the detail better than in those print offs. That should help a lot.
Funny though - I looked at the configuration of the new one and compared it to my good main machine and noticed that it is actually a better machine than this one I paid over 5 times for not that many years ago. Technology is amazing. It should be delivered tomorrow.



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Last edited by Heidi Maiers on Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought I'd add this update of the back also. This is before adding the clippy thing and hair tuft. Good tool for hair is a stiff pastry brush. Just push it down around your finger and swirl the clay in the direction you want the hair to go, making deep cuts in places.


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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One more photo for now - a close up. Still pretty rough, as you can see, but coming along. One bad thing about doing pretty women sculpture is that you can't add eyelashes. I suppose after it's all finished, you can add fake ones, but that would be a little tacky.


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Will Pettee



Joined: 24 Feb 2005
Posts: 130
Location: SF Bay Area, California

PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're just too dang good, Heidi! You've got this down to a science. I love the tips. I really like the chair and turntable idea with the 16 position markings -- Great idea! Do you ever take any top down and/or bottom up photos along with these?

Great progress on the piece. She's looking wonderful.

I can't wait to see more!

Take care,

Will
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Heidi Maiers
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a bunch Will. Do you ever work in ceramic? I've spent the past 6 months working in only plasteline and polymer and it feels good to get back to the dirt.
Oh, yes - those two photos from above and below are indespensible. Lots of critical information revealed there.
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Matt



Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 6
Location: Virginia

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heidi,

Just wanted to say how much I appreciate the thread here. I'm learning a great deal following along! The sculpture is truly emerging quite beautifully.

Thanks!

Matt
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