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"I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past."

— Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

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Thursday, October 7th, 2004

Missed Thursday's entry - I'll get it up on Friday...

Update: Sculpture and Me.

Since childhood, I've had a good spatial sense and excellent manual dexterity. I have expressed this combination in various ways through the years, and sculpture seems to come naturally to me. (I have had no formal art training, aside from a watercolor class in college.)

I take great pleasure in sculpting, but even so it usually takes some pressing outside event to get me going - usually a holiday or birthday which calls for me to present a gift to someone I care about. *

Here are two examples, both of which I made for my friend Michael Levine; each was done with different material. To the right is a custom made Pez dispenser featuring The Tick, a parody of comic-book superheroes. I started with a standard Batman Pez dispenser, cut the old head off at the hinge, then built up the Tick's head using green epoxy putty. This type of putty is non toxic and comes in a ribbon with yellow and blue sides. You tear off a piece and knead it, and when it turns a uniform green it has been mixed correctly. The putty dries quickly, in between 30-40 minutes, so a certain amount of haste is required. Fortunately, you can easily carve the putty or add more to make corrections (I got the Tick's chin badly wrong on the first attempt). I used my fingers for the broad surfaces and a dental plaque scraping tool for details. The putty sticks to metal surfaces and fingers unless they're wet; I generally use saliva (ick). The Tick's antennae were made by sticking a paper clip through the top of his head, then stacking small rings of putty thereon.

To answer the obvious logistical question - yes, you can get a piece of Pez candy out from under his enormous chin.

When I presented this to Mike, I wrapped it in an ordinary Pez wrapper, acting as if I hadn't bothered to get him anything but a token gift... When he opened it and realized it was unique, his face went rapidly from a sour expression to utter joy, which is the main reason I play cruel tricks like this on my friends. They never seem to learn...

Tick Pez Dispenser

"Arthur! I'm growing a huge brick-shaped goiter!"
Statue of Mr. Spook
To the left is a freestanding sculpture about 6" high, representing a character named Mr. Spook from a comic called Tales of the Beanworld. (The oval objects at his feet are called Mystery Pods and are not the Beans of the title.) I used polymer clay to make this piece. Polymer clay comes in many colors and can be baked hard in an ordinary oven, giving it two large advantages over epoxy putty, but I like the texture and resilience of epoxy putty, not to mention the thrill of trying to finish the piece before the drying deadline...

I started in this case with a metal plate that came from one end of a can of frozen condensed orange juice, which served as a form for the base. I filled the base with white clay, as I had the most of this on hand. I used wires to form the basic armature, and bulked out the torso with aluminum foil (a great trick for saving clay.) The grass is two different shade of green clay, roughened with a dental tool. I had a hard time keeping the white portion of his face clear of black smudges; due to this and a bit of carbonizing when I baked it, I touched up the white area with acrylic paint.

When done, both pieces were sprayed with several coats of acrylic matte finish. In the case of this piece, it was done in exceeding haste, as I had just finished sculpting it as Mike arrived at the house... I had to stall him while I finished it. (I keep meaning to stop procrastinating, but I never get around to doing so.)

Sculpey face. To the left is the initial stage of a project I did for my mother. I took pictures at several points as I sculpted it, so I'm going to go over it in some detail in the next entry...


* If you're a friend or relative of mine, and you haven't gotten a sculpture from me, it's not because I care less about you or meant to slight you - I tend to do this sort of thing only once in a great while and according to strange circumstance. If it bothers you, let me know and I'll do what I can to make up for it.

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