Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Torso Project - Counting Crows

Background Story:
A few years ago I sculpted and fired a torso out of stoneware based upon one of my photographs.  In October 2011, my good friend (and amazing artist) Teresa showed me how to make a plaster mold of the front half of the sculpture.  Using the plaster model, we made a polymer clay version of the torso.  I have had it in my mind to try and replicate what I already do digitally but in a 3D way.
Stoneware torso being prepped for mold making
So here’s what the plain polymer clay piece looks like:  (It is approximately 16” tall and 9” wide at the shoulders.)
Polymer clay torso
There’s a risk with this project.  Polymer clay is basically plastic and wax likes to stick to absorbent surfaces so this may not work, but you’ll never know you’ve crossed the line until you cross it.  I am using unbleached beeswax since it is more malleable than encaustic medium or chemically treated beeswax.

First I tried printing my digital images onto tissue paper that I had coated in a digital ground.  The print was lovely but alas, collaging paper (even small pieces) to a 3D substrate did not work.  I ended up with a goopy mess.  After some frustration, I remembered that I had inkjet printable silk.  Viola!  That formed ever so easily to the torso and stayed on easily once the wax was applied.  The wax went onto the polymer clay without any problems.  It was fun to brush onto the velvety surface and there were wonderful impressions left behind by the brushstrokes.  There were definitely drips and runs to clear up as well.  Initially I can say everything looks good, but I will be watching in the future, especially around temperature changes to see how well the bond between the polymer clay and wax holds up.
Torso with 1 layer of wax and broken paper crow
Torso with silk crow and numbers
I'm not sure where I want to go next, so I am pondering questions such as do I want to add any color, do I want to play with intaglio (very likely), and when will it get too heavy to support it's own weight when hung by wire from the back side.  Remember this project is an experiment from the polymer clay construction aspect as well as the encasutic aspect.