Saturday, April 2, 2011

Step by step modelling of my prototypes (Y2 Clay) Part One; the Decoy-duck

prototype at the end of day two - unrefined, form and shape resolved.

Step by step modelling of my prototypes; the Decoy-duck (Day one and two).

This blog entry provides a step by step account of my techniques and methods in modeling a prototype. In this case the symmetrical stylized decoy duck for my next ceramic installation.

First stage. Detailed drawings assist the modeling phase.
Followers of this blog will for the first time see the value of detailed drawings, especially in the case of modelling stylized and symmetrical prototypes. I enlarge the drawings using a photostatting machine; this is done to scale taking into account the manufacturing process, in this case it is to be slip casting and the shrinkage of the slip has to be incorporated (5-6%).  For the purpose of the installation with projection, it was necessary to do a side view and top view which came in very handy when doing the modelling. The above image is of the envisaged size of the installation. I fold the paper cut out of the enlarged drawing to get a view of the three-dimensional image to be modeled – to determine the size and scale of the installation. I photostatted the side view drawing in reverse to ensure that I can model the two halves of the torso separately and yet accurately – working on top of the actual enlarged drawings – using clear plastic as a base to protect the drawing while modeling. (Y2 clay does not stick to the plastic – see below).
Modelling with Y2 clay onto enlarged drawings.
Modeling with Y2 Clay.
I make use of Y2-clay to do the modelling. It softens under low heat, and I therefore make use of a number of cheap bed-lamps fitted with 60watt spots to soften the clay. The spots direct the heat onto the supply of clay, ensuring it is pliable for modelling. A number of spots are also directed onto the modeled prototype to ensure the surface can be manipulated.  The lamps must not be too close to the supply batch of Y2 clay, as it melts and burns your hands when applying it to the prototype. Removing the light source will ensure the clay hardens and every detail is retained for the mould-making phase. The prototype constructed out of Y2 clay is normally very hard, and building the dividing walls for plaster casting in no way damages the prototype. Multiple moulds can therefor be produced using the same prototype and modeling clay. Besides the advantages mentioned above, the fact that you don’t have to cover the prototype whilst modeling is a huge plus  (I modeled my prototypes in ordinary recycled clay- and the clay always had to be kept moist). The other major advantage is the fact that you seldom require an armature, as the Y2 clay is very light. 
 Second stage.
After modeling the two halves separately, I attach them to form the three-dimensional body/torso of the decoy duck. I then have to review the form and shape to ensure it meets sculptural expectations. In this case it has to be an exact replica of the drawing; a replica in three-dimensions of the two-dimensional renderings. At one point during the animation, to be projected onto the ceramic installation, the drawings of the decoy-duck will be projected onto the actual three-dimensional decoy-ducks (slip cast and fired to 1060). The ceramic decoy ducks therefore have to be exact replicas for the drawings to fit the actual ceramic products. Hence the meticulous process of matching the forms and shapes exactly to the up scaled photostatted drawings.

Third stage (Day two).
I then start to model the bottom of the dress, onto which the legs will be attached – I might have to fire the legs separately and attach it after the firing. The pouring spouts (for slip casting) will therefore be at the openings, where the two parts will be attached with epoxy. I will therefore be able to glaze the entire product. I also hope to slip cast the decoy ducks and develop appropriate surfaces (under glaze decoration and transfers) to exhibit them as individually crafted pieces. I have ordered some Parian casting slip from Valentines Clay in England for this purpose. I am in the process of enquiring about the costs of digital decal printing of the various peony spray ballpoint pen drawings, to be able to apply them to the fired pieces and exhibit and sell them separately as mentioned above.
Ensuring the main form and shape is symmetrical and perfect.

I took a long time to refine the form (image above), reminiscent of a bomb, which I will explain at a later stage. It has to be perfectly symmetrical at this stage, once you start to add the head of the decoy duck and neck etc., it becomes impossible to adjust the central form and shape, especially if it is symmetrical. It therefore has to be perfect at each stage of the modeling phase and or the different stages. As the defining components and elements are added to the main form, the more difficult it becomes to alter and refine the symmetrical form and shape. Any imperfection will have to be ignored and accommodated – it is just not possible to correct your mistakes at this late stage.
Modelling the decoy duck head.
Fourth stage and or phase - Day two afternoon).
Once the main body of the symmetrical form and shape has been achieved, tried and tested, using templates (scaled up photostats of my ballpoint pen drawings- cut up into the various elements), I can start to add the defining components such as the head etc. I start the process in the same way every time – modeling the two halves of the duck’s head using the reverse Photostat process to achieve exact copies of the two dimensional drawings. 
Ensuring the head is the right form and shape

These templates have been placed in position to ensure the three-dimensional modeled head of the decoy duck will be the exact size required and enhance the symmetrical aspect of the ceramic piece as demonstrated in the sequential images above and below. I model the head and other attachments roughly and place them in position to ensure the scale is correct, before I embark on refining the forms, adding the detail and texture. 
The final phase - modelling the legs and shoes and refining the forms

1 comment:

jim said...

hi eugene,
what a wonderful post... it's great to see the procedure laid out. when i first glanced at the pictures, i thought... oh no, he's putting clay on those lovely ink drawings. i should have known that you had a protective layer there. the process does exemplify the use of the drawings in the modeling phase in more than simply something to aspire to... the model will be exact. it reminds me of when i used to make molds a lot in grad school and we did work for an artist in st. louis. his name was ernest trova. he would give us simple 2 inch sketches and just put 45 inches next to it to indicate height. at first we complained that there was not enough information to model and complete sculpture in the round for him but later we relished the license it gave us to make the piece as we saw it. wonderful process, can't wait to see the legs and shoes added