Monday, October 29, 2007


This can be a pain in the ass! And take some of the fun out of character sculpting. The best solution that I have I’ll illustrate here.

I've sculpted the head details, spotted in the ears and marked the eyes with two small beads. Now he needs a neck. On the final toy the neck will be flexible.

Using thread and Cyanoacrylate glue (Crazy Glue) wrap the wire with a nicely spaced coil of thread, secured with glue. Use some brand of "Insta-set" or "Zip Kicker" to instantly dry the glue.

Microwave the clay so it’s hot and liquefied in the center, spread the liquefied clay on the threaded wire. Once it cools a bit there’s a solid base to sculpt up. With Super Sculpey it’s a similar technique, except I smear the clay into the wire to get that sticky base.


In the same way the shirt wrinkles were built up and smoothed down. I will construct the head. Using the Turn-around sheet I’ll measure the height and width of the circle for the head.

Lump up some warm soft clay in about the same shape, and as before start smoothing it down, broader strokes at fist, finer finishing strokes to smooth it.

Looking at the original character and making relative measurements form the control art I will etch out the main landmarks of the face.

I want to fix some of the wonky elements of the original sculpt, but not too much. The character’s personality lives in some of his crude lines and a-symmetries.


Now the body is in good shape. The shirt has been etched out, now I’m going to start laying out the wrinkles of the shirt. Using the sculpt of the original character for reference. Cloth wrinkles can be tricky, but finding reference for good bends, folds and sags in cloth are easy to find.

I’ll start laying out rolled up clay snakes and push them onto the form. A little bit of additive sculpting. Making them bigger then sculpting them down to size. Creating the shirt will be a combination of carving out depressions, and joining and smoothing the outstanding ridges.

The thing I hear people wanting to learn about the most is “How to get the sculpt smooth” I’ll keep covering that technique as it comes along during the project. So let’s smooth out the shirt! It’s just a matter of taking the clay and gradually pushing it down, joining it to the surface with the tool that works best for you.

Start with larger more blunt strokes, then with a medium rake take it to the next level.

Lastly using the finest guitar string rakes. The final finish is done wiping down with a natural sponge and 91% Alcohol.

Study the details of your work under a harsh light, the shadows will reveal many things. Look for any shapes that don’t look quite right, maybe something needs more smoothing, building up or sculpting down.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Now that the body is roughed out, I have to make sure it’s that right shape. Yes it’s a gumdrop but the slope and angles have to be right. The height, width and length are all there so now we can measure the thicknesses as the shape descends.

First I’ll find some solid landmarks. Where the neck starts is a god one. The calipers can mark off the right height, then a horizontal line across. We measure these two points to find if the width is correct.

Adding and subtracting clay to get it right. Since the finished result will be like beat-up copper it doesn’t need to be smooth like glass. Using the big cable rake I’ll bring it more into “smooth” shape. I never go all in one direction, a weird pattern will start to develop. The video clip shows the random pattern.

Another way to get a shape just right would be to spray mount the sculpt art to cardboard or foam-core. Cut out the picture and use it as a template.

I measure the points where the t-shirt lives on the figure, and etch it in. A little more light raking, then I smooth it out with a smooth wire tool.

I scratch in some of the lines of the metal plates. Then smooth it with 91% Isopropyl
Alcohol on a sponge. I’ll get more detail in later and make the plates un-even with depth and texture, rivets and what-not.


Now that I have the body straight I want to flatten the bottom, get it nice and level. In the end I will probably cut out a piece of styrene plastic to finish the bottom.
First it gets a light raking to take down any light bumps or ridges. Then putting the piece on the flat tabletop I press it down and twist it.

Now there are shiny spots where the contact was made, these are the areas where we need to rake it down a little more.

That will take care of the bumps, now to go after the depressions. Take a straight edge lay it across the surface gentle drag it across.

Create a grid pattern. Now it will be easy to detect low points where the ruler didn’t touch that need to be filled in. Just repeat the process until you feel it as flat as you want it.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I’m sculpting away on the Clobber Monkey and will have new updates this week. In the mean time I was thinking of what other past projects did I have to show and tell some sculpting techniques. The Frank Kozik Ho Chi Minh figure had a couple tricky bits.
I took an actual plaster bust that Frank got in Vietnam, added his logo and enhanced some of the facial features. The lettering on the plaques were done by a lettering company with lasers and plexy. The “Kozik” logo on the back of the figure I wanted to sculpt.

I used “Hard” Sulpher Free Chavant clay. Warmed up in the microwave, then rolled into a thin sheet with my handy pasta maker (A tool every sculptor should have) the logo was printed out at the size for the sculpture. I literally traced the outline with a pencil right onto the clay.

Now with the outline in place the clay has to be very firm for cutting such a tiny piece. Circuit Freeze spray is great for instantly freezing the clay, it can be bought at most electronic stores. Freeze the clay, and use the tiny X-acto blades for cutting.

You may need to re-freeze the clay as you work. The freeze spray is also great when you are trying to sculpt tiny details, or sharp edges on any sculpt.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Even while I’m sculpting the Angry Cobber Monkey I’m preparing some Super Sculpey for my next project. I love working with SS although I find it isn’t always ready right out of the box. A little too mushy for my taste. Even SS Extra Firm can use some help, it varies from box to box. I take the new SS and roll it into several thin strips with a pasta maker. (A Pasta maker is a fantastic tool for the sculptor) Roll it out on sheets of paper towel, and roll it up. The paper towel will soak up the extra Plasticizer and give it a more leathery consistency. Usually I leave it rolled up for 2 weeks to a month. I always mix a little black Super Sculpey Three in so it has a gray tone.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Wow, I’ve been busy as a Mo’Fo’ lately just wrapping up some projects.
I dug up the old Sour sculpt as a good example of the 10% shrinkage I was talking about.
The original sculpt is on the far left, in the middle the resin master, and lastly the final product. Usually the sculpt doesn’t survive the molding processes but if it does I wrap it up, and box it for storage. The resin master has a little shrinkage, but the vinyl clearly shows the most. More Clobber Monkey sculpting this week!

BTW- Brendan Monroe has a show coming up at the Richard Heller Gallery if you haven't seen Brendan's work up close don't miss it! October 13th through November 10th