Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Silicone mould of complex 3D object

Woman, closed, or enclosed. Encircling her own body. Pensive, head resting on knee.

I argue in favour of this pose because it's more upright than horizontal (Who has room to keep sculptures of reclining women? Sure, I sculpted a reclining woman, but then I mounted her in an upright position, it's a more effective use of space. Maybe it's me, maybe it has something to do with how tall I am or the space I live in or the precise warp in the lens that is my astigmatism, how I perceive verticality.), and therefore also more fully dimensional, almost a full 360 degrees, not a pose that has a front and no back (like the reclining woman, I had to rely on something other than a visual prompt to complete her back, her backside, the finished piece more a composite than a true depiction of the live model). 

I like that the pose is natural, not contorted. For some reason the art instructor favours extreme torsion, an expression of the artist's torment, she says, but I think it's because she wanted to be a dancer (and failed). Someone else suggests that if I want natural I should look in a mirror; we pay a live model precisely to take advantage of the poses they strike, muscled and flexed. He wants the model to to give him something, show him, inspire him. (But I, I think, am an artist; nothing need be given me, I find it, make something of it, I know where to look, how to look.) 

They want this young Vietnamese woman to embody their classical European sensibilities. Perhaps it was doomed to failure. 

I go big (well, bigger than usual), prep an armature. Determined to complete a full body, not a headless torso.

This model is different from the others, quiet, not a dancer or a circus performer, not body confident. An art student with thick ankles. I sense she is relieved that the agreed-upon pose allows her some modesty.

Suddenly I realize she is all limbs. I am looking at the space she enfolds. How do I sculpt this vast hollow she protects?

It's no longer an artistic question. It's a geometry problem.

I watch how others construct their mould, which planes they choose, which points of access. I don't want to be the first to fail, but I fail to understand how this mould will work.

Red clay woman encased in white silicone. The silicone sheathe around her thighs and buttocks is thin and loose, I had to leave it dry before I could apply another coat. In the meantime, the clay lost water, receded into itself, or gravity pulled the mass of still moist clay flesh away from her shroud.

Plaster shell designed in four parts. (This is the first time I create a mould that is more complex than a front and a back.) It's fragile, in places also too thin (Was a I rushed for time? Did I run out of plaster? Simply, did I lose my touch?), and a thin wedge snaps off, perhaps this small piece is expendable, but the major shell facet breaks in half as I pry it away. 

My blade leaves stab marks along her torso and thighs. I tug at the silicone, and it rips. Repeatedly. 

I fear I cannot save both the clay and the mould. The mould, thin and torn, may not be salvageable. If, on the other had, I preserve the clay, I can attempt another mould. But to repair the clay, I first must release it.

Neck fully broken, likely due to drying conditions, not mishandling. The head hangs on by its nervous system of scavenged electrical wires.

The left big toe comes away with the silicone. Her joints crumble, revealing the metallic understructure. 

The geometry problem becomes a matter of physics: how to remove a large silicone mass from between crossed limbs. I dislocate her left shoulder to release the solid white space that her arm describes beside her waist. 

The silicone can be reassembled, bonded with more silicone. It's messy. And if I choose to reinforce any patches, I risk the plaster shell not fitting snuggly. I think it may be usable, but only once.

I keep the clay moist, but eventually it will dry and crack over its too-robust skeleton, now too big. It would be impossible to remove this armature. (How can I keep the clay from drying and cracking?) I don't know how to add new clay to this old clay that will keep it together rather than pull it apart.

The air is too humid. Nothing will set, nothing will dry.