Monday, January 24, 2011

NYMPH (painting, hair)

Worked on the nymph yesterday between attempts at fixing frozen pipes in Kelly's shower. Nymph went fine, pipes -not so much.
 The first thing I needed to address was the imperfections in her skin. I have a few moonies (4) thanks to my moist hands and the fact that this has taken so long to sculpt. I find that the longer a figure sits around before curing, the more dirt and moonies I end up with.
She has a depression by her navel which I made with a skewer before curing.
Wet the area of the repair with a thin layer of liquid Sculpy.
 Fill the void being sure to feather the repair into the surrounding surface.
Cure with the heat gun about six inches away from the surface. Keep the gun moving as you set the new clay to avoid overheating. This takes about 30 seconds to cure.
 Repairs done, now on to prepping the surface. I prefer to sand my females but leave the males a little rough. Using a coarse foam sanding block, sand all the large surfaces. As you sand, be sure to do so in different directions so you do not flatten the curves of your sculpture.
 A thinner foam sanding pad will conform to the small curves for more detailed sanding after the bulk of the body is done with the large block.
Sanding should be fast if you have smoothed as much as possible before curing.
BE sure to support your figure as you sand especially the arms and legs or you can crack them.
Brush off all the sanding debris and rub the entire surface down with acetone on a white cotton rag to polish out any scratches from the coarse sanding blocks.
**Please note the gap between her knees. Her legs were touching when she was sculpted. In fact, the left leg has an indentation where the right leg was pressed into the clay and formed around each other slightly. As the figure was cured, the legs relaxed and spread.  Normally, I would leave this as is but the depression is too obvious so she needs to be adjusted. I will do this with the heat gun later in the process.
Now that the moonies are repaired and the surface is smooth I will use the heat gun and superheat the entire figure. I am doing this because the stress on her is incredible and would result in a crack within a year or two if not addressed now. I start at the feet and work my way up the figure as I hold her in my hand. Once I get to the waist I place her on the Satyr's support rod and continue to superheat the spine and arms as she  hangs. This lets the clay relax and the armature supports the weight of the figure. When the clay cools, the stress will be carried by the armature not the clay. **The last thing I do with the heat gun is go back to the hips and waist and keep gradually heating them from side to side. Once the hips are soft enough to press in with my thumbs, I bend the legs back together and wrap them from mid thigh to knee with a piece of old T shirt to keep the knees together. When she cools completely, I unwrap the legs and the knees stay together again as you can see in the second picture down from here. Don't rush this process or you will have a crack to repair later on.
The nail beds are wet with liquid Sculpy and translucent clay is added to the nails them cured with the heat gun.

She is painted in a series of acrylic washes.
 Eye make up and brows are added. Fingernails are painted. Inside of mouth and lips are done as well.
** Note the knee location compared to the earlier photo. This tip alone is worth the cost of admission:)
 Cleaned, posed, and painted. Onto hair.

(He did get his goatee and a little chest hair as well as some real hair eyebrows.)

She got some golden blond wool for her hair which I then did a messy french braid on to make it a little more controlled but playful.
Bad pic but shows the braid without it being too perfect. She is playing in the woods after all!
Finnished for the day. On to some dressing and eyes next.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!


  1. thank you for explaining the sanding process I never knew exactly why you had to sand a sculpt but now that is clear to me.

    I have a feeling that I will be making more males than females because I hate sanding with a passion

    thanks for sharing

  2. wow... I absolutely love EVERYTHING about this piece!! Bravo Mark! Bravo! Sending you a standing ovation! carla

  3. Mark, do you use a coarse sandpaper first and then come back with a finer grit to do a finish sanding? Or do you just use the one and let the acetone smooth it out.


  4. i like your works, EVERYTHING! compliments!
    greetings from Italy

  5. Mark,
    The goatee is perfect! I love her tresses of blonde hair too. Fits her to a "T".

    Thanks for the tip with the t-shirt and heat gun on drawing the legs back together. Undoubtedly, that will prove itself invaluable at some point in time. It makes great sense to super heat the entire piece to strengthen the figure. Thanks for that tip.

    Can't wait to see the grand finale!

  6. Thank you all!
    Darel, I just use the coarse sander then let the acetone take care of the scratches.

  7. Awesome work! The sand paper and acetone are some of my best friends:) What kind of glue did you use for the goatee? All the glues I've tried for facial hair are so glossy when dry they don't look real.


  8. This is wonderful !I've always been terrified to sand a sculpt, when I tried I was scared of the scratches caused by the sandpaper , but never thought acetone would remove them.
    Thanks so much for that !

  9. So exciting! They are turning out so great! I am learning so much.

  10. Mark, this is amazing to watch and learn. I'm also wondering what glue you use to not have the shine that Fabri-tac and some of the others give. I need to make a thin head of hair for my sculpt but don't want the shine. Can't wait to see what's yet to come!

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  12. I ran across your blog while researching "satyr legs" for a wool sculpt I am doing. I have learned SO MUCH! thank you thank you thank you! Now I'm looking into where I go to purchase your instructional DVD's as I'd love to try my hand at this type of sculpting!

  13. Mark thanks for all the experiences you share. You're a genius!

  14. Thanks for sharing your talent Mark! Still amazed with your works ;)

  15. Amaaaazing *-* Such a great work!! Congratulations!

  16. I ran across your site/work Googling for a "coarse foam" source I need for a product I am developing. As an artist also, my jaw dropped when I saw your work. Outside of the fact that you handle the medium so well... particularly in such a small scale... the form, movement and emotion you create is absolutely one of the finest I've ever seen. Now I'm in awe!!!! Beautiful. Puts me back to the drawing board!