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Updated on Monday and Thursday.
"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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Monday, October 11th, 2004

The images on this page show a few stages in the process of making some holiday Santa earrings for my mother. I decided ahead of time that I would sculpt one Santa with a friendly but serious expression, and have the other winking and smiling.

Since the predominant framing color was to be white (the approximate color of the beard) I used white for the base and back. It helped that I have a lot of this color to use up, as I mentioned in the last entry. It's also easy to sign a white background and write a personal message on it, as I do with all my pieces.

Sadly, I only decided to start taking pics when I was almost half way through the process, so some of the interesting details are not covered in the photos. I'll describe them as well as I can.

I started with white, grey and translucent clays for the beard and back, a flesh color for the face, black for the eyes, red for the hat, and two shades of red flesh for the lips and cheeks, which I made by simply mixing some red clay into a blob of flesh clay.

Sculpey Face
Sculpey Face Winking
Sculpey Face with Beard
Sculpey Face Winking with Beard
I started by roughly blocking out the faces. As I refined details on the nose, cheeks and lips, I added red-tinted clay, blending it into the surrounding flesh clay. (I had a particular jacket photo of Stanislaw Lem in mind as I was sculpting the winking face...)

The eyes and teeth were placed after the surrounding flesh was sculpted. I should have baked these small pieces before placement to keep them from smearing into the surrounding clay, but as it happened I was just very careful and I got away with it.

The teeth were done with ivory clay and translucent clay intermixed; the translucent clay helped to give a realistic tooth appearance. It also help light to get lost in the mouth cavity, keeping it darker than the rest of the face, as it should be. An elementary mistake is to make the teeth pure white; this gives an unnatural appearance. For the same reason, I did a mixture of white and off-white for the beard and hair, though I made the trim on the hat a pure white. (In restrospect, I wish I'd flecked it with black to resemble ermine.)

The final pieces wound up being a bit too heavy for earrings, so my mother wore them as a set of matched brooches.

I promised several entries back that I would be showing sculptures of an alien skull, so you may be wondering what's going on. One large reason is procrastination - I simply haven't gotten to doing the skull yet, and I've put up entries discussing my earlier sculpture in part to mark time. However, I don't think this time was wasted; in retrospect, it serves two purposes. It shows that I do have skill and experience in sculpture, and that I'm not just trying to pass off random blobs as alien life. Also, going over what I did before and why I did it helps me to get back in the mood...

I plan to attend Ubercon this weekend to meet artists who make all or part of a living by doing webcomics, which means that sculpture is not likely to happen then. With this in mind, my plan is to begin sculpting on Tuesday and Wednesday evening so I have something to show and discuss on Thursday. I will use next Monday's entry to discuss anything interesting or art related that I learn or produce while at the con. After that, I'll continue with the sculpture, and dedicate at least one entry to covering loose ends (projects that I've promised for upcoming entries and never delivered).

Sculpey Santa
Sculpey Winking Santa

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