Monday, November 11, 2013

Full-size armature

The armature for the statue is made from mild steel welded into a rigid structure. It is
organised so that the metal runs inside the form and supports the clay.

The frame on the left is a pointing machine.  This is usually used for transferring 1:1 from plaster to stone.  I use it to find my extremities.

The steel frame is then packed with polystyrene to reduce the weight and tightly wrapped with chicken-wire which gives the clay something to hold on to.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Full-size setting out

Now that the lay figure is well on the way, I set out the armature for the main figure.

Preparing the base-board

I use the wire mock-up to get an idea of where the most weight will fall and to plot the back-iron (see early maquette making post for back-iron description)

Felicity marks out plumb points for the armature


As I was starting the armature for the lay figure, I noticed a stranger, in the car-park, looking the studio up and down. Her name was Tricia and it turned out that her grand-mother had been born here when it was a workhouse in the 19th century and that her family came from the village.  Imagine being in one of those places.

If that was not fascinating enough, it transpired  that she was from Melbourne.  And then Tricia revealed that she had, that same day, driven from Donington where she visited Matthew Flinders's birthplace.  My first thought was that she was a plant (the day I start the first of the two large figures, a Flinders fan turns up at the door), although I could not imagine who from. This notion had, on reflection, sprung from a baseless feeling of self-importance that had overwhelmed me since being filmed by the BBC earlier in the month.  In any case, Tricia, it turns out, is a gem and this is a big thank-you to her for her encouraging words about the sculpture.

Lay figure

Once I am happy that the geometry of enlargement on the three boards is in concert, I make a lay figure to set the drapery on.  This is a very time-consuming stage in the process and has, so far, taken me about 3 weeks.  It is not a matter of making a has to be a form that works as a convincing figure when real fabric is applied...actually it looks quite odd unclothed...not like a body at all.  Moreover, I use sections of life-cast for the stretch moments (ie, the right knee and left elbow) and, while this is useful, it is nigh on impossible to cast a joint in exactly the correct position, so they need a lot of filing and building-up.

When the lay figure does come together, however,  it is invaluable as a reference for how the drapery moves, but getting there is a hair-puller and stretches the team's patience  Each revision to the clay, which is then clad in cling-film, means that Liz has to un-stitch and re-sew the clothes.


Setting out the enlargement

The first step to realising the final work in clay is to set out the maquette on a lined board.  In addition to my board marks, I identify several points on the figure from which to enlarge the maquette, firstly to the life-size lay figure and then to the full-size 1.25 life-size work.  The position of the points is determined by whether I can plumb to the ground and, at full-size, whether they fit into my largest calipers.

The lines are then enlarged x 4 for the lay figure....

...and by 5 for the full-size statue

Full-size mock-up

To help us work out the perfect height to view the sculpture, assess the font size for the base and align the figure with the base and plinth, we make a full-size mock-up with wire and wood.

Felicity working on the wire mock-up

                                   The full-size mock-up on actual size base and plinth pattern

Felicity uses the mock-up as a guide to making the base-board for the full-size clay sculpture

Consulting with members of the Committee on the height of the statue.