Monday, April 6, 2009


Way back in 2006 Long Gone John of Necessaries Toy Foundation called me about a special project. I had sculpted the Camille’s Girls series for John and the yet to be released Sunday Girls by Fawn Gehweiler. So not only did I like working with John, I also considered him a friend. He told me this was to be a BIG TOP SECRET toy project. Hmmm so mysterious! He had been talking with Mark Ryden for some time about a vinyl art figure. I was all at once excited and a bit intimidated to be sculpting the first ( and maybe only ) Mark Ryden vinyl figure. Mark had chosen the YHWH painting (Or his son had) to be the first toy. Sculpting the girl seemed like it was going to be the trickiest part. Considering that Mark has made his female creations such a specific and amazing element to his work, and the human for is not my specialty.

After studying the painting, and getting the size specifics. I scanned the image and enlarged the print to the height of the “rabbit totem” knowing that the girl would follow in proper proportion. There had to be complete accuracy with every curve so starting the sculpt actually on the picture of the art was a great way to get the basic shape. Also the eye position was going to be a key element. The eyes in the painting are so alive and focused, that the eye line of the vinyl had to have the same intensity. I suggested to John that the final piece should have realistic plastic eyes if the budget would permit.

Balance! I had to make sure this thing was not going to topple over. If the final figure has to stand a certain way, the sculpt should do the exact same. Making this piece out of solid clay would betray the structure of the finished vinyl piece. It would end up being a hollow rotocast vinyl piece with some weights at the bottom for balance. Making the core out of aluminum foil wrapped around an armature wire with some weights at the bottom would be the way to make the sculpt.

In the beginning there was the core. A single length of armature wire with foil.

The next step was to start getting the clay on the armature. Those of you who have followed my step by steps in the past may have seen this next method before: May 2007. Let’s go through it one more time! I like to us sulphur free NSP Chavant Clay “Hard”. Put it in a microwavable container let it go until it’s like pudding. Then spread the hot clay on the armature like frosting a cake.

Get the whole thing coated and the basic form roughed out.
Once the entire foil form is coated there is a solid base to sculpt on.

As the mass builds up use a flat tool to plain down all the rough surfaces.

After adding clay and plaining into shape the rough for starts to appear. Notice there is one pencil mark on the right side indicated a particular curve. The manufacturer was concerned that this curve came out too far and would make it difficult to pull the vinyl pieces from the mold. the curve had to be taken in without changing the shape of the character too drastically

The basic form is now roughed out. The next challenging step will be eye placement, and creating the flow of three dimensional curves using the two dimensional art that I have. Also what is the back going to look like? This is where the skills of interpretation come in. Mark was far to busy to do turn around art to show me he vision for all sides of the piece. This frequently happens where I will have one piece of art to use for the sculpt and must interpret the rest. That is what I will get into in the next step.

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