Tuesday, January 5, 2010


This christmas I wanted to make something special for my wife Lisa. She has always been an Edward Gorey fan, and I had always wanted to have an excuse to make a figure of the Doubtful Guest.

The cover of the book is the most famous and classic pose. Reproducing it faithfully with only the one drawing to work with was the second part of the challenge. I studied all of the art in the book and came up with many ideas for the other side of his body and face.

The trickiest piece ended up being the scarf. The implied weight, of the wrap around his neck, the fluttering tassels and exactly how is it tied around his neck? The drawings show the tie in a great flow and drape, now to actually figure out what I will be sculpting.

First I took a scan of the book art and enlarged it to the same size as I wanted the final piece to stand. Using that as the model I sketched over it just to help my brain figure out how the 3D version would work.

This sketch is how I interpreted the loop around. I think it was right.

The drawing also helped to work out the armature, and where the breaks would be for the molding process. As much as I’d love to make a one piece casting this wasn’t going to be it. Usually I always try to make pieces that are free standing. The foot configuration of this character is crucial to the pose, and isn’t going to allow him to stand upright. As any toy freak knows nothing is worse that a figure that won’t stand!

A few months ago I picked up some scraps of walnut flooring in the trash. It was the perfect size for cutting and polishing a nice base. If it wasn't going to be a free standing figure at least it would have a handcrafted base.

After the initial lay-up of the clay on the armature, I sized up the body roughed out the figure. Eventually I had the smooth version of body. The feet were on separate little armatures so they could be removed. In the finished piece I wanted the feet to be molded and attached as different pieces.

At this point I had started to audition a texture technique. I tried a few different tools until I found a couple that would make the varied texture that resemble the ink lines of the art. The scarf was the next big piece. I wanted the same angles as the art. The hard clay actually would hold the shape long enough to figure out how to sculpt the final scarf parts, and where to split them for molding. More texture and finishing tomorrow.


Jeremy Brautman said...

Dave! This needs to be a production figure. Or at least a small run. Or at least a double. Basically, I need this. Looks awesome already. P.S. For our wedding cake topper, we had Mike Leavitt sculpt us in Edward Gorey style. He knocked it out of the park: http://www.jeremyriad.com/images/goreywedding.jpg

Dave Pressler said...

Hey thanks Jeremy, I'm getting much good feedback. I'll see what i can do to get this going. Love your cake topper! Check out the one I did for my wedding http://davepresslersculpting.blogspot.com/2008/07/getting-married.html

Chris Battle said...

Holy crap, that's great! That one's always been a favorite Gorey book of mine.