Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay ctd. - Goddesses All - part I

It has come to my attention that I am easily led. And quite possibly schizophrenia. But I prefer to think of myself as flexible and intuitive!

When I make art I generally start out with a pretty clear idea of what I am going to make. This pretty much guarantees disappointment since many things don't turn out the way I envision them.

This time my vision was of a male vampire. An old time vampire with a black cloak flowing around him. The cape had that very high collar  that came up over his ears and of course a red satin lining. He would skulk around in the shadows.  All was going well.

Note: I am keeping the photos small this time as there are so many.  I believe you can click on them to enlarge.

He was going to be manly, with a beaky nose and deep eye sockets.

Below ...on my beautiful new/old duvet cover from Jitterbugs - is a slim box that I rescued from the recycle bin to use for the torso armature.  I added the legs to see if the proportions were right.

This is when my schizophrenia began to manifest.  An insistent female voice made me understand that this sculpture I am working on is not a male and certainly not one of those ubiquitous vampires.  

Contrary to what some people would tell you, I am easy to get along with so once I understood that I had no choice in the matter I plunged into re shaping the torso with more layers of newspaper.  I was well into two nicely rounded breasts when  "The Voice"  (Hey that would make a good name for a TV series) piped up insisting she wanted only one breast.  I complied.

On the left is the torso with one breast.

On the right are the neck and shoulders. I inserted a piece of plastic into the neck opening in order to allow the head piece to swivel around more easily.

Feminizing the face...adding more chin, flattening the beaky nose, add some cheek bones and fleshy lips.  I am beginning to feel like a plastic surgeon who specializes in sex changes,

I added a wooden bead for the knee and made a hollow in the torso where the hip can swivel freely.  Or so I thought!
Leg with initial paper strips laid on. Sorry it doesnt show up too well on that expanse of newspaper. It makes for easy cleanup of my work surface.

Toes were shaped on tooth picks and inserted into the foot.

Now this is where whirling thoughts of Goddesses and Warrior women began to take shape.

Why not put her in a  yogic pose called Warrior Two?  Form with no feet looks out of proportion.

So much for the movable joints I so carefully constructed. They now only serve to weaken the structure as the joints move. I will have to do some hard thinking about how I can remedy this.

Feet added. Still a bit of tweaking to do as regards proper placement of feet and direction of knees
This ain't what I would call the proper form   for this pose.  Sister Marie ( my former yoga teacher) would be horrified if she saw this wobbly warrior.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

Be back with more pictures as the work progresses.  Still have to do arms, refine shape, support wobbly limbs, add paper clay and gesso and paint.   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Experimenting with jointed paper clay dolls

This week I have been messing around with making two sizes of jointed dolls.

The first one uses four drinking straws cut in half. These are the form I used to build the limbs around.  

First I wrapped them in a single layer of old style paper mache and let it dry.

Next I added paper clay and stuck a skewer through to allow them to dry evenly without flattening on the bottom side.

Yes I am aware that they look like tampons.

Next I made a rough head.  Photos help me to see things that need more work.  Wonky eyes seem to be the theme with my faces lately.

I made smaller limbs from previously enjoyed Q tips.  No need to freak out. I cut off the fuzzy used end and used only the plastic, which I discovered is hollow inside like a small straw. It is perfect for inserting a wire with which to hook the limbs together.

Below are cut outs of hands and feet. They will act as a form on which to place and shape the paper clay. They are cut from cardboard packaging that would other wise have gone to the dump.

Here are a pair of hands already molded around two of the cardboard hand pieces.  I have set them on a coke can in order to give them a natural curve as they dry.

I have inserted a piece of wire which I twisted into a loop for joining it to the end of the forearm later.

On the right, top, is a normal Q tip, then one that has had the fuzzy ends removed and finally one that has had paper mache and paper clay applied.  A wire has been inserted through the hollow center of the Q tip. Next a loop will be formed at either end.

Still a long way to go.  Still have to do bodies, feet and another pair of hands.  Paint them, wire them together, dress them or whatever.

Much more tedious than just sewing a doll together and stuffing it. But I do insist on trying everything.

More to come as the project progresses.

How do you solve a problem like Maria...Enter Hortense

Ah the old Hortense joke.  First man says " Is that Hortense over there?"  Second man says "I don't think so. She looks pretty relaxed to me."

This is my way of breaking the news that Maria has been swallowed up by another entity name of Hortense.

Although I am using the same head I have changed it quite a bit and there will be more changes to come like more wattles, more frown lines. This is just to document the process as I go.

She has a droopy eye, and a raised eyebrow, a fatter nose, thicker lips.

I included photos of  Maria as she looked when last seen.

 Hortense front                                                   Hortense side

Maria front                                                            Maria side

This damp weather is playing havoc with the drying process so she has an orange fungus in her ear and in other areas that didn't dry fast enough.

At the moment my plan is to aim for a body with interchangeable heads unless and until I get another body made. Stuffing is expensive.

I have been working on two other small dolls at the same time as there is so much time where you just have to wait till things dry.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How do you Solve a Problem like Maria? - Life sized Paper Clay head - part I

For some time now I have been threatening to remake Maria - the life sized doll I created and dressed in indigenous costume while I was in Ecuador.

I call the remake project (which may or may not include some ball joints at elbows, knees, shoulders, and ankles for ease of posing)
" How do you solve a problem like Maria".  You are humming it right now, aren't you? You will be humming it for days now.  :-)

I slapped her together rather quickly so I am not proud of how she turned out.  On top of that she and infant son Jose traveled in a rather undignified manner to Canada.  Maria lovingly cradled Jose in one arm and my computer in the other as she sat wedged into a cardboard wardrobe container.  Miraculously all survived the trip, even though the box was torn open to reveal a disheveled but still smiling Maria.  I always marvel at her ability to smile in the face of all life can throw at her.

Perhaps someone suspected a body was hidden in the container? It would give you a start to see this "person" staring out at you from a shipping container!

I didn't want to pay for an extra seat for them and Maria has never forgiven me for that.

Here we see Maria cuddling Jose in my living room. Yes I do live in a simulated Gypsy Caravan cum Berber tent. Bite me.

Sadly Jose succumbed to one of my charitable endeavours. Parts of him live on in various stuffed bunnies, cats and dogs which will find themselves at the Salvation Army Family services around Christmas time.  I featured some of these in an earlier blog post.

So anyway...I had been wrestling for a long time with how to make a plausible face and hands for life sized dolls. The soft sculpture just doesn't cut it for me with faces, and hands are difficult at the best of times.

When I discovered paper clay I thought this may be the answer to both problems.

In these photos you will glimpse my cat Reg; a great fan of flour in its many delicious forms.

Here we see him sampling the initial layer of flour and water and newspaper strips that I had positioned  on a Styrofoam head form  (used for styling and storing wigs.)

Sigh............. it is not easy being an artist when your fans eat your work when your back is turned.  Unless you are the Cake Boss.

PS It has come to my attention that some initial nibbling that I blamed on Reg was actually the work of a mouse.  Said mouse lured by the delicious aroma of flour and newspaper entered the house and was dispatched by Irma this morning.   Here she is having a cuddle with Brother Reg. Thank you Irma.

The following are photos of the prototype head.  I intend to make a much older Maria this time. Having nubile young beauties watch me do yoga in my living room only serves as a taunting reminder of my own aging body. 

Here Reg contemplates the best way to open the container of flour and water.  His usual method is to knock it off the counter and let it smash open all by itself. Voila! Instant snack. And healthy at that as I used Whole Wheat flour.

I am attempting a pleasant twinkly eyed but wrinkled elderly woman.  If I have to age Maria has to too.

Good to see a photo so I can correct the wonky eyes, add some jowls and more wrinkles.  It is easy to get lost in the details and not really see the piece as a whole.

Here is what came next.  Eyes a little more aligned.

 Below you can see the initial layers of paper mache at the back of the head. The front is the only part where I have smoothed on some paper clay so far.  I have split it apart for easy removal from the form. And it may end up that I only use the mask portion.
?Quien Sabe?
Still requires a lot more jowls,a turkey neck, ears, insertion of  acrylic eyes, eye lashes and brows, maybe teeth, hair and finally paint.

Note to self: don't forget to pierce her ears for earrings.

I will keep you updated on the progress.

Paper Clay Pan - and a wee rant on Horned Gods in general

My muse has returned after a VERY long vacation. In fact I feared she was dead.

I am so grateful that she has returned and inspired me to play around with paper clay; an interesting medium comprised of toilet paper, glue and drywall mud.  It is a step up from old school paper mache in that you can achieve finer details and surface texture. Click on the link below to see how to make it.

I am still negotiating the learning curve. For my first sculpture I used a stiff paper egg-shaped form  as a base.

I thought that I wanted to make a dryad but my very strong minded muse had other ideas and a Pan-like creature emerged. 

A dear friend who "gets me", said, " I LOVE IT!!!  The expression is

just wonderful...sad but hopeful.  It would mean to me if I saw it in 

a museum a spirit that is trapped in an animal body--goat and devil 

like but he/she isn't mean and is even hopeful shown by the depth 

and feeling and mystery of the cat like eyes...so intelligent and 

aware of its plight and trying to communicate. If art is meant to 

communicate which I believe it is what a classic piece of the plight 

of humanity--trapped in a mortal body both good and evil but has 

the ability to see and figure out a way out--illumination! 


If I were viewing this in a museum I would stand a long time 

admiring and thinking about it.  It is just marvelous.  You are soooo 

talented, Jane!  Thanks so much for sharing these photos with me.  

What a nice dose of the universal as I mundanely vacuum the 

house and cough at all the dust. "

I am still blushing but more importantly I feel she hit the nail on the 

head regarding horned deities even though she is not Pagan.

Horned Gods in history: 

If you are not interested in learning about the origins of a common misconception read no further. But if you, like me, are curious about a lot of things then read on.

I would like to clear up some things about Pagans and their so called Devil worship.  I can't speak for all Pagans but the ones I know are definitely not Devil worshipers. This was a term invented by Christians in an attempt to wipe out the very old Pagan beliefs that were precursors of Christianity.

I think the confusion comes in when non-Pagans/Wiccans see the horns and hooves.  This deity, Cernunnos, sometimes called Pan, Dark Lord or Puck is associated with nature, wilderness, sexuality, hunting and the life cycle.

Whilst depictions of this male deity vary, he is always shown with either horns or antlers upon his head, often having the head of an animal, in this way emphasizing "the union of the divine and the animal", the latter of which includes humanity."......

"The term Horned God itself predates Wicca, and is an early 20th century term for a horned or antlered anthropomorphic god with pseudohistorical origins who, according to Margaret Murray's 1921 The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, was the deity worshipped by a pan-European witchcraft-based cult, and was demonized into the form of the Devil by the Mediaeval Church.

Murray's central thesis that images of the Devil were actually of deities and that Christianity had demonised these worshippers as following Satan."

Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horned_God

Paper Mache Clay Experiment - What I would do differently

This is so typical of me to just jump in where angels fear to tread and make up my own rules.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn...