Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mrs. Chicken's Adventure into Life!

Mrs. Chicken (or as my Mumah likes to call her "Helen") on her way out the door of my apartment building into the cold to follow her destiny. She is strong, she is brave....and she is HEAVY...

Look at her go! Luckily the gallery is around the corner from my apartment so I planned to roll her there since Jacob was at work. But a truly kind neighbor of mine saw me struggling with her big bum and carried her to the gallery for me! People are wonderful.

I thought I'd share how Helen came to life since I never have before.

I sculpted Helen out of oil based clay. This clay never dries so you can always work with it and tear it down to create something new.

I pounded the clay together to create the chicken shape then added the feathers. To make her feathers I rolled a ball of clay in my hands, then pressed my thumb against the ball onto the sculpture to flatten it and make it look feather-like.

I wanted to make a cast of her but I had to use rubber because she was so detailed. A plaster cast would not have been able to capture all the details. And once you make the cast the clay sculpture is done for so I couldn't take my chances. I bought the liquid rubber and brushed 2 thin coats across one side every day for about a month or more. I had to make sure the rubber was dry before putting on another coat and I had to do a ton of coats to make sure the mold was thick so it would not tear when I were to take it off the sculpture.

I built a wall of clay around her so I would have two pieces for the mold. In the end both sides would come together like puzzle pieces.

A close up of her backside.

You can see the texture of cheesecloth. When I had done 1/2 the coats of rubber needed to be finished I put cheesecloth across her and did the other 1/2 of the coats over it. This makes the rubber more durable and less easy to tear apart.

Painting the latex on the other side. I removed the clay wall and put vaseline on the rubber wall so that the two sides would not stick to each other.

It is a super long and tedious process but it is worth it if you want to make sure your sculpture comes out with all the details you put into it. I probably put about 50 coats on each side and I had to do each side one at a time because of the clay wall. I later found out I could have put a super thin piece of metal through the middle of her instead of clay and done both sides at the same time but I found out too late.

This is the end result. Once the latex was done, I then did a plaster cast over the latex to keep the latex sturdy or else I would just have two rubber molds that aren't firm enough to hold the shape. Then I was able to take the latex and plaster off the clay sculpture.

In the end, the clay sculpture does not survive.

This is what it looks like with the latex and plaster cast all put together like a puzzle. The hydrocal (like plaster but stronger) will be poured inside. It dries fast so we have to work fast.

We tried to make her lighter by putting foam (covered in hydrocal) inside her but she is still incredibly mighty. We put the piece upside down to fill her with hydrocal and we also wanted to keep her even so the bottom of her is even. Mr. Scribner had to "burp" her or else there would be huge air bubbles inside her making her easy to break. We tied rubber around her to keep her pieces tightly together or else she would leak...she still did leak though since it was my first latex cast. I learned what my mistakes were.

I let her sit over night. Hyrdrocal had leaked through the cracks making her stuck to the box we had set her in. She was stuck, but Jacob literally stood on the box and pulled while I tried to hold down the box and after 25 minutes of tugging (and me crying) we got her out! Because of the leaking she came out a bit of a mess. A huge mess. Her head comb did not come out, her eyes were super far apart so I had to chip them off, and her beak didn't match up on both sides so I had to chip that off as well. I resculpted the comb, beak, and eyes with hydrocal. She had an obvious uneven line down the middle of her that I had to sand for hours. She had tiny air bubble on her feathers I had to fill. And the latex had shifted making her uneven (if you look closely you will see that one side of the top of her head is lower than the other. It took 8 hours to fix this little lady. There are no pictures of her when she was a mess because I really thought she was simply garbage at the time.

After all her fixings this is what she looked like. The feet would be done with plastic (which I will show tomorrow) because they would not have made it through the cast since their shapes are not simple.

Helen caused me a lot of stress but I learned a lot from her. Now she is sitting pretty at the B1E Gallery for all to see Wednesday, January 18th, 7-10pm and Saturday, January 21st, 7-10pm .

We ended up making another cast of Helen weeks later and she turned out a lot better. The latex did not shift so she is even. I have two gigantic chickens...and I could make hundreds more if I could find a reason why to do so. Thanks again to Mr. Scribner, Stella, Jacob, and Jake Martin for all your help with Helen.