After slicing off the crown of the head with a wire tool, you can see the clay of this portrait bust enrobes a center of crumpled newspaper on the armature. I’ve set the crown aside and will keep it in tact so that it can be replaced later in the process. This portrait bust is larger than life, requiring about 50 pounds of water-based clay.
The newspaper has absorbed moisture from the clay so it tears apart easily. It must be removed and the walls of the sculpture must be thinned. I use a ribbon tool to shave away clay from the inside walls.
In the photos below, the sculpture is freed from its armature and placed on a wooden board. It is now hollow. About twenty five or thirty pounds of clay have been removed from the inside.
You see channels have been punched through. These are necessary only if the sculpture is to be fired. If you were to cast the sculpture, you could skip this step. The channels allow air and moisture to escape thick walls of clay during the heating process in a kiln. Without them, the sculpture is more likely to explode in the kiln.
The outer surface of the clay is smoothed over, concealing the channels from the outside. The channels open toward the inside and will vent through the bottom of the sculpture.
The model will sit for me one more time after the smoothing of the channels is complete.
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