I think I was channeling Calvin from Calvin and Hobbs this day. Had a great time with my preschool students teaching Frosty Fun and talking about what happens to snow when the weather warms up. We have fun coming up with new projects for kids and play off of each other’s ideas at the art center.
Here’s that third sculpt of the reclining nude in white clay with smooth finish. This is a quickie sculpture but the smoothing did take longer than the rough, tooled look. On this one I tried to capture the little smile on the model’s face and the way her arm pressed against her cheek. Great model.
Her father said it was really important to her that she give this to me. Thanks, kid.
A few years ago I had a student at the art center where I teach named Elena who started coming to classes in her wheelchair with her Dad at age two. After many surgeries she eventually was able to walk using two crutches.
About two years ago she began coming to my preschool classes alone, using only one crutch. She was so tiny we used to put a large cardboard box of markers under her so she could reach the table. When the other kids asked her why she wore a brace, she told them, “I can’t walk very well. My leg hurts.”
This class was based on a story called “The Leaf and the Wind” and for our final project we made mini kites out of coffee stir sticks and tissue paper shaped like leaves. Elena looked a little apprehensive. She told me, “Ms Marshmallow, (They call me Ms. Marshmallow because it’s so much easier to say and remember than Marchesseault and sounds similar) I can’t fly a kite because I can’t run. My brother has a kite, but I don’t because I can’t run.”
I said, “Don’t worry. You will be able to fly this little kite.”
We went into the hallway to get a drink from the water fountain and the other students wanted to help Elena, but she refused. She grabbed hold of the fountain, threw her crutch on the floor, stepped up and took her own drink of water. It was one of those moments in life you thank God you were there for.
Afterward we took our kites into the larger classroom next door and thanks to fellow teacher, Jewel’s brilliant idea, we set up a floor fan and Elena again threw her crutch on the floor. She stood still without her crutch in front of the fan with her little kite, guiding it as it flew in the breeze.
She was laughing and smiling. The other kids were running and swinging their kites around and taking turns in front of Elena’s fan with her.
Elena’s mother came to pick her up. She just stood in the doorway watching Elena for a long time.
They had been to the kite festival a few days before and it had been disappointing for Elena but now she had made her own kite that she could fly by herself. Elena’s mother was so happy. I told them to stay for as long as they wanted. They were still standing there in front of the fan with the kites when I left to go home that day. Another moment I thank God I was there for. Thanks, kid.
I know it was fast, but was it good for you? It’s good for me!
This black clay is messy, but I love the results. It’s a challenge to complete a full body sculpture enough in one modeling session that it only requires some minor touch up afterward. I add hair after the session so when I walk away from the group, this baby is bald! I’m trying to avoid obsessive detailing and pay attention to the overall lines of the piece.
I have to work faster, not only to push myself to a higher level of proficiency, but also because of the cost of modeling. We’re sharing a model in the Raleigh Sculpture Group and she is doing the same pose for one more night. I hope to have a third sculpture of this pose in white clay at the end of that night. The models head and hips changed slightly during this second session. I like the position of the head much more like this compared to the first session in brown clay.
Working fast helps me with letting go of each piece. I know I can make more so it’s ok to say goodbye. It’s ok if one isn’t perfect. I can do better next time.
Here’s the first little nude bronze I ever cast right after breaking it free from its sand mold following a bronze pour in Moncure, NC last spring.
Kevin Eichner teaches this class through Central Carolina Community College that covers the basics of bronze.
It’s a lot of work.
We started with wax models of our piece, then added what Kevin called a pouring system, or sometimes it might be referred to as sprues made of bendable wax sticks.
We mixed bags of sand and a two part epoxy in what looked like a cement mixer to create our sand mold material. We added large chains and other heavy metal items which we kept careful count of to the cement mixer to help break up any lumps. It was pretty smelly and dusty. We built wooden forms to suit the size of our pieces. Then we carefully packed our wax models into the sand mold material.
You can see on the tops of the remaining molds sitting around me that there is a large hole for pouring in the bronze and several small holes for the bronze to ooze out of, to purge all the air pockets. When the bronze contracts as it cools, metal reserved inside of the pouring system is drawn into the cast art. This prevents pitting in the finished work.
The leftover bronze is made into ingots and used again for another pour. The piece has to be cleaned up. I am using a grinder here to remove sprues. You can polish and use bowling floor wax or apply a patina.
The leather coverings I have on over my calves and shoes are part of the protective gear for pouring bronze. We wore leather overcoats, aprons, leggings, hair pulled back and a face shield.
One of my friends added an interesting quote to his e-mail signature the other day which prompted an e-mail discussion among fellow sculptors.
“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture.” Bertrand Russell
“Ah that is an interesting quote. But I have to think about it … is sculpture cold? Maybe it is … but there is something kind of magical no? The way sometimes I am busy reading in my living room and look up and see two scuptures (Wen and David) and think that maybe they are talking to each other or sometimes giving each other the silent treatment.” -Adam
“Sculpture can be cold…downright terrifying emotionally. Cold to touch sometimes -ice sculpture, anything out doors in the winter. There are actually a few bronzes here in Cary that look like corpses. I’m sure that wasn’t intentional!
Both mathematics and sculpture are attempts to describe. algebra-the line, geometry-space, physics -time and motion, yet they are undeniably different. Sculpture is not enslaved to so many rules. Math for rebels? No…
I think of sculpture as a culmination of many interests. Sculpture taps into intuition -unfathomable, instant intelligence. Intuition is difficult to weigh and measure for mathematicians (they hate that), although some processes in sculpture are formulaic.
I did laugh inside one day when a sculptor told an actual human model his body was not correct according to the formula he’d been taught for proper proportion.
Maybe, more accurately, math and sculpture flirt with each other some days and give each other the silent treatment on other days like Adam’s sculptures of Wen and David.”-Kim
There was no mention of whether the woman who received this bedroom set as a wedding gift from her husband survived her wedding night. The craftsmanship is excellent, but the symbolism is as misdirected as worm syrup on pancakes. This and many other unusual items are on exhibit in the NC decorative arts section of the Museum of History in Raleigh.
I was baffled when an older visitor to the museum stood next to me trying to explain for some time to her companion that these chains and hooks were clearly designed to hold mosquito netting in place over the bed. Her elderly lady friend cocked her head to the side and said, “Then why are they also on the armoire? Obviously they are for chaining female slaves to the bed.”
As a sculptor I know I will probably wind up with a few worm syrup pieces of my own but maybe seeing these things will help me laugh about my mishaps. I sure had a blast at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.
Oh, you wanted *warm* syrup. My bad! I had a great time at the Museum of History in Raleigh yesterday mostly because they let me take all the pictures I wanted to. We laughed and joked with other visitors in the museum. The guards were laughing, too. I love the drug store items the best, old posters…so many jokes waiting to be made there.
By far the most disturbing exhibit to me was the decorative arts of North Carolina. Much of it seemed just about as off target as having worm syrup on your pancakes. Admittedly, there are some nice works here and there, but I am so saddened when I walk around this area to see that someone unknowingly commissioned corpses to be cast in bronze and then installed them in public view.
Inside this history museum there was actually a plaster cast of a sculpture of George Washington, first president of the United States, wearing what you’d see an ancient Greek soldier in with sandals and bare legs…worm syrup.
There are a few other sculptures that it just hurts to look at around town. …And a disturbing set of furniture on exhibit that I will share images of tomorrow.