And now for a very long wait...! ;)

While I wait I'll share more in depth thoughts I haven't made very clear. I probably sound exceptionally manic (which is fine for an artist I guess) in comparison to my typical blog rambles and meanderings. I realized I may not have made it totally clear why the "sudden" switchover from apoxies to clays here. Before I show my little days adventure pics below, I'll share why's & when's of that decision... I've actually been planning to get into modeling clay again when I moved down here and finally had the ability to cast outdoors (apartment living is not great for casting). I rented a barn before, but I didn't have my backup plan of living near people who can help me cast waste molds if need be before.. now we still don't own, but we have a lot more outside than before! (And warmer too - whew!) ;)

First though, I had to take "final" pictures of the clay in case it was the last time I see these guys like this! ;) They're being molded right now and it all could be for naught if the silicone rubber doesn't cure right! (:-o I've had my own bad luck plenty and have heard so many other's scary stories as well.. (So far so good though -crossing fingers!-)...

Had fun with relief illusion of head-on look when the horse isn't actually looking head on at you...

Neoclassicism? Roccoco? Straight up Romanticism? Don't ask me, thhbt! lol! No but seriously, I've always been very into Greek and Roman relief work and that very romantic style of Stubbs (with his exaggerated eyes and wildly curly wavy hair)... & let me tell you that is NOT easy either in Apoxy Sculpt.. ;) So "weeeee" again! :D

I float between wondering whether she was inspired by Stubbs or (eek snort) Fuseli (go look him up) ;)…! I’d would like to plead that I was inspired by Stubbs though..! ;) Or Raphael since I have most cool prints by both and very few other framed horse pictures around here (clearly I dig em).

Relatively speaking molding & casting is nothing big of course for most people - I know - I know... ... but for me this is the toughest part. I get attached to works when I make them, once I'm done it doesn't bother me if they're destroyed even but before then, it's hard. & I'm not totally done yet! Pictures below of this morning's folly!

See for years I’ve been wanting to go back to sculpting in softer clay – not necessarily “soft” clay but modeling clay verses 2 part hardening epoxy which acts like clay for 1-3hrs and then “cures” into something very similar to soap stone. I’ve been wanting to sculpt again in something that stays more malleable permanently than this rock-solid Apoxie Sculpt I currently work in. Something where the proportion or pose can be changed SO much more easily be adjusted at ANY point in the sculpting process… which is a major issue/challenge for me with Apoxy. If you’ve followed my works over the years you see me changing some pretty significant things right up toward the end of the pieces’ completion – a whole shoulder shifting, neck length changes…this sort of thing. When I talk with my fellow sculptors who work exclusively in clay we have these discussions “so how do you go about changing something like this in your medium”.

An example of details that take me weeks to get in Apoxie Sculpt - took only an evening or two basically in clay.

There are challenges in clay too, after a certain point you risk ruining a lot of hard won detail – this isn’t such an issue in apoxie sculpt for example – but making subtle changes overall is a LOT of work… so a minor shift to a more natural pose ALSO requires a million hours of tweaking every muscle that ties in (which can be the whole horse just about – hahaha!). Sometimes it’s a LOT easier too mind you. Especially something like lengthening the barrel. Every one of my sculptures have had the barrel lengthened – some by pretty significant amounts and others you could argue are still pretty short-backed (although in riding horses short backs are nice strong backs too so I tend to favor that look). Anyhow, I’ve heard some horror stories from fellow clay sculptors about lengthening a back for example.

So sure, clay isn’t a magic medium but it’s something I’ve been playing with since I was young and I’ve always really really liked.. I just never made anything too serious, due to the pain/risks/complexity & costs of casting. At least (I reasoned) with apoxie sculpt the sculptures I gave up on (there are MANY – like there were 2 iterations of Deputed Duke.. several of other horses that never went anywhere.. ). Anyhow, giving up on one only cost around $20 of wasted material and time.

In the past few years however I kept returning to the idea that I’d like to pick up again with clay. And a BIG draw of moving south is that I’m 5-6hrs from the casters and now I can drive my work over to them and let them make the waste mold if a sculpture is worth completing, and I'm at a loss for how best to cast a single casting - molding is only half the battle…! I’m not exaggerating about that, it was a big factor for me. Maybe I can watch them and someday feel confident enough to do a horse’s waste mold.. but frankly I’ve encountered some painful set backs. The cost of even one resin’s waste mold is too expensive for me to screw around with (silicone rubber in the several hundred dollar range). Some artists just go from clay to production mold and I suspect I’d be tempted too – with that sort of waste mold prototype-making cost…. However there are several reasons why that’s not ideal… so I kept hemming and hawing and just playing it safe (ala SLOW) with the Apoxie sculpt…

At any rate, so while I’ve got my current Apoxie Sculpt horse nearing completion now, and I’m just wildly excited about him – woot!! – well I’m also obviously greatly looking forward to my next 2 horses that I plan to do in clay! I’d started that wee pony in Apoxie Sculpt *but* there were some width issues with the hind legs I’ve been annoyed with and well (!) ;) what better excuse to start over in clay as well (and while I’m at it I’ll just go a wee tad smaller so that the pushy pony can be paired up with the inquisitive horse – I’m adoring the look of the scene and have no models currently that pair up well with each other.

It’s not a fair comparison time wise to compare my completion time on sculptures in various media since I haven’t been able to devote myself to a sculpture 100% since way back in 2005 with Bosco. Long days spent round the clock wrapping him up. That was the only time I was exclusively able to work F/T on sculpting (or painting) day after day, before & since then I’ve had 2 -3 jobs here aside from sculpting & painting. That said, overall I’m already finding the ole’ college and earlier lessons learning flooding back to me. Plus now there is the benefit of the internet to watch other artists working in videos on youtube for ideas/tips & inspiration! :)

Mind you I grew up with these things being given to me to entertain me (only child w/no other kids around very often). ;) I gave up on traditional water based and oil based clays in my youth after many exceptionally disheartening experiences. I took some classes at for example… throwing and just straight up sculpting… something always got broken. Ditto for high school pottery where I did sculpt a horse, it was laying down. Something else in the kiln took it’s head off however…. I was so broken hearted. It was a huge fear that I’d have trapped air so I spent an enormous amount of time hollowing the head, then the neck and then the body out as I sculpted it. I’ll never forget how dismaying that was, seriously. Of course there are no photos.

I had a successful bust made in college – cast from clay… my dog ate it and it was the only casting we’d gotten from the mold (think the mold had to be broken to remove it)... I kid you not… it was plaster coated with stinky shoe polishes. I’m really pretty surprised the dog didn’t get violently ill from it all. He had pretty good separation anxiety and also ate half a coffee table another time he’d gotten out of his crate when no one was home. Anyhow, this was before digital cameras too so I have a few pics of these but nothing great.

All that said? I just still adore clay. So please forgive my manic excitement to be playing with it again. I’ve very very deliberately avoided it to be honest. I had some pottery clay recently but I passive aggressively let it dry out. ;) & Well now I’ve gotten an excuse to give it a whirl again – all this family back in New England that I need to send Christmas gifts too! :) & Ahhhh boy have I missed the smell/feel of it – it makes me feel like a “real” sculptor! ;) This is in NO way intended to diss those of us who are using (still me!) hardening epoxies…. There are a good # of very well known sculptors out there who do stick to Apoxie sculpt.

Some fun areas where I've been having a blast adding texture to the body - so much easier than with Apoxie Sculpt also...!

The next step for me I guess is to find good strong magnets (I'll have time while these are at the casters.. we have a LOT of family - I tend to make 30 gifts or so per year it seems so anything hand done is still a week or more of work... the casters are much better set up for this type of thing!). ;) Anyhow, I think the best way to gift these is probably as fridge magnets… ok, so it’s not exactly “fine art” but then ornaments aren’t entirely either I guess? Anyhow, until we can pop those castings out tomorrow, a little photo essay of the prototype mold making here. The test casting from yesterday came out fine. Some air bubbles but barely noticeable. I’ll be dealing with any of those in the prototype & then letting the casters do the real castings for me. The cost is nearly the same as materials are for me, and frankly we just aren’t that good at it. I’m over here burning myself with hot glue… I have opinions on the way he pours, or accidentally bumps into the clay sometimes too… (but no seriously ! I’m just lucky he’s pouring at all!!!). Anywho, we sure aren’t going to be converting his shop here into this full time. ;)

1st tho; if you were sincerely looking for information on casting let me send you over to read this; or recommend Karen Gerhardt's article "Making a Simple Box Mold for Small-Quantity Resin casting" for the issues relating SPECIFICALLY to casting horses (and there are many more than making these flat reliefs... this is just a fun tutorial). If you're looking for info on the materials, may I recommend the many many videos on Smooth-On's site.

Little green test mold there on the blue square (CD case). The indentation is the 'ingot' we cast. I made a little tool, something with little veins on it that was rounded that I can make raised veins on horses with. Might as well make a useful piece. We got white casting resin but a little black dye. Wanted to see how the resin cured with the dye too...

It's so shallow he overpoured a little resin (it's tricky!). I was able to cut it away. We did get the resin with the 7min cure time however because we wanted to have enough time to mix the dyes. We only need one casting per model... so we can wait an hour or more for it to fully cure (it does come out softer even after 1/2 an hour I made a thumbprint on it... interesting.. after 2-3 hours it was normal for resin.

Had to pause to go out and save this Praying Mantis from the dog. They are SO docile! It just flew down & stood there while I photographed it from all angles. Oakes had the sense to get the stick before the dog finally noticed. They fly like whirly-copters... hysterical! :)

The horses in their boxes... after the first box (horse head) he decided there might not be enough rubber left from the trail size for the second horse so we trimmed up the box (see below)

I love the gooey look of silicone!

Mmmmm tastey! Bye bye horsie, hope to see you again! ;)

Scary stuff for me to attempt but exciting times in general!


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