Tag Archives: degenaro

Venus designing

To build a larger sculpture from a small clay sketch uses some strategy to make the enlargement work without distorting to design. It’s said the Henry Moore worked his designs out in the size of something which could be held in his hand. That size is very helpful since the object can easily be turned in the hands and all sides studied and worked on evenly, and the contact of the hand, the Great Tool, is equal on all the parts of the object.

My way is to convert a small clay model into a design plan which I can measure and build from. To try and measure accurately from a small model and make enlargements of dimensions is too inaccurate. The model is freehand, and not symmetric, the enlargement scale is too great. I want to derive a schematic drawing which has the essentials of the design laid-out accurately on a grid, which can be enlarged and dimensioned from as needed when building the sculpture. I know my friends in digital computer 3D modeling are appalled, but this is an ancient tried-and-true method of building, anything, from a simple plan or sketch. As well, this design work will help me if I choose to also produce a 3D model, since the proportions of the design are already set down.

I’m working from my last idea, which has taken on the identity of a Venus, or else a proto-woman. I had hesitation about this, but I did get approval from women about it so of course I’m going ahead.

Take clear photos of the model, front, side, back, top, and bottom. Use a deep focal length to flatten out the image and reduce the perspective.





Open then in some software, maybe Photoshop, stack them up in with some transparency, and scale and rotate them so they’re even and of consistent size and orientation.


Then, lay them out in graphic design software, maybe Illustrator, and set some guidelines across their common points of reference.


Draw the design over the images, constructing from the reference points. The image is just a suggestion, you’re creating a new design, not just tracing the image exactly.


With judgment, refine and clean up the drawing.


Turn off the images layer, turn on a grid. And perhaps you have a useful schematic,


..which you can blow up to any size, print out, measure from, and trace onto any material, say, a block of wood, prepared for carving.


This is the first time since I brought the show home that I’ve been thinking again about new works to make. Meanwhile I’d been dancing tango a lot, and listening closely to people talk about art, & when they warily mention what they themselves are doing creatively. Once you are out as an artist more and more people will say to you what they are doing or aspire to do. There are lots of poets, dancers and photographers out there, and painters & sculptors; and the children of artists or someone in the family who does or would do something. The great stereotype of the Artist in other times was the bohemian starving in the garret in Paris, or hanging out in 50’s Greenwich Village at the bar. Today, the artists I know are the anonymous persons who’re working nine to five, struggling to find a any moment at all to create something beautiful & meaningful to, at least, themselves. Everyone, whatever you’re trying to do – keep doing it, and see what happens.

I didn’t know what I wanted next; something experimental and abstract – printing, carved low relief, or drawing on canvas ; another heavy involving production in wood or metal; something really large, and lightweight (who has enough papier-mache in their life?)? Then I remembered that the whole time I was finishing the last thing, I was already considering the next. So I’m going to go ahead with all of them and see which one compels me the most. I’ve cleared out the shop, collected most of the materials, and I have firewood for the stove. Hello Winter & introspection & creativity.

Shell fini

The box removed, and the plaster shell mold smoothed.



I’ll just let it cure, dry, and harden up a little longer, so when I split the two half apart, very gently, I won’t crack either half. The clay underneath undulates a lot, so removing the shells evenly, in one piece, using small wooden wedges, will be  a trick.

Meanwhile, on the side, to use up the free time, I cast the Beachstones molds I made last Fall in urethane resin. (The waxes I made earlier from these molds for bronze didn’t work out too well and I’m going to do them over, soon I hope.)



It still needs finishing, but I’m very please with the way it turned out – that’s saying it came out looking like I’d hoped – like beach-glass, you know, that sand-smoothed broken glass you find at the beach. Look forward to more.

Back plaster

I boxed up the mold, preparing to pour the plaster for the back side. I just build this quickly using foam-core, hot glue, and tape, lots of tape. I seal the inner seam of the box with clay where it meets the front side plaster so there is no leaking out of the new plaster. I line the inner side of the box with packing tape to release the plaster. I added the sprue and vents for the silicone to eventually pour into, in the form of cardboard tubes and soda and cocktail straws, but that step is still a way off (the clay under the plaster will be removed and replaced with poured-in silicone, forming an inner blanket which is supported by the solid plaster outer mold). It’s a lot of details with not much to picture.




Mix the plaster, something I’m not showing you, pour it on and shape it up. You can see some markings above which I use to estimate the thickness I want from the plaster.


I’ll let this dry a few days, take away the box and smooth it out some more.

It is a relief to be at this point. I’m maybe halfway done, but some of the most critical planning and preparation steps are complete now, and if I’ve done this correctly, most of what follows will be clean straight-forward work without anxiety.

Cradle remove


The first half of plaster is finished. Now I flip it over and remove the cradle. The front-side plaster now serves as the cradle for the work.


The cradle is removed in pieces and carefully pulled back from the clay blanket which remains in place against the plaster and surrounding the model. Toss out the cradle thankfully, for the work it did.



The second side is ready to begin working on. Another clay blanket and plaster will be made to enclose this side of the model.