Friday, June 24, 2011

Mermaid Armature

Once we have a working design, the next step is to work out the structure needed to support the pieces. I do this on my sketch as follows:

Starting at the bottom of the piece, the kelp which will support the entire set will be made of a sheet of bronze. I chose bronze because it is easy to work with (braze, cut) since it is a copper alloy but it has more rigidity than copper and brass. I also happen to have sheets of it from my days as a bronze sculptor.
The support rod will be brazed onto the kelp at the sailor's elbow and run up the arm, through the shoulder,
 and down the torso to the point where her hand will attach to his body. The only points of contact will be as follows: Kelp base to base, kelp to elbow, and her left hand to his body. In addition to these supports, I will add a basic wire armature in his body to support the legs and arms.

 I will start with the mermaid armature since she is the easiest. The basic wire armature is made of 14 gauge wire. One long set for the torso/legs, one set for the torso/arms, and the spine/neck.
 Brass tubes are slipped over the torso/leg wires and then bent at the bellybutton and angled down to the second bend at the hip joint.
The basic measurements I use can be found at:
 The upper torso is prepared in the same manner as the legs.
** Please notice I did not run the tube all the way down the spine. This was done yesterday after lunch. As I sculpted, I realized that this should be all the way down the spine for more support. Do it the right way and run your tube down the spine for more support!

 The neck wire, upper torso wire, and lower torso wires are all foil taped together to create the spine area.
Finished armature is ready for padding out with foil.
There is no need for tubing on her right arm since it will not be attached to the male and is not needed for support.
 The body is filled out with foil so the outer layer of clay is about 3/8" thick.
 All metal is covered with tape to keep the oxidation from getting into your clay.
The final step before adding clay.
**Here is the fix for my mistake of not extending the arm tube down the spine. If you look closely at the supporting arm you can see a second tube has been added which runs along the upper arm and follows the torso to the hip. this is foil taped on and then covered with masking tape.
Thanks for tuning in. Have a great day!

BTW, here is a preview of what we will do next.


  1. I am at the edge of my seat Mark!!!!! So looking forward to this one! Thank you for being so wonderful!
    carla g. Incantostudios

  2. This piece is going to look amazing Mark. I love connecting pieces together. My mermaids are a bit whimsical..ok ok they are ALOT whimsical but you gave me the inspiration to try it. Hope you will come and take a looksie.