Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

So what have I been doing since my last post? I was writing about a Red Riding Hood cane that I was working on. Well lets just say several pounds of clay and many hours later it is done. And I am not happy with it. I could write about that failure but instead I thought I'd write about a different failure. It started with Clay Carnival in Vegas last November. I knew I was taking a class from Leslie Blackford. I just love her and her classes but I never seem to finish in her class. I work slow I can't help it. So I decided to work on my "Mad Hatter" before I got there. I had had help with some sculpting from a friend, Maggie Westall, and I was really happy with my mad hatter head. I took this with me to Vegas but even with this finished before class I still didn't complete my box until I got home. Here it is. So after I got home I started working on my red riding hood cane. After that failure I was tired of caning so I thought I'd try to sculpt a woman. Not sure what the final was going to be I just started on the head.
This first head was made with premo right out of the package. It was small and I thought not too bad for a first attempt. (actually I had done a little sculpting of Santa's in the past. Hmm... maybe that's why they were all turning out too masculine) So my first thoughts on head 1 was I hated the eyes. I tried painting them on and they pretty much looked like crap. The other thing thing was that my head was far from the beautiful woman I wanted, but it was my first try.
I did some research on the web and came up with some eyes that were prebaked that I could insert into the head. Head 2 has these eyes in them. Now when I start sculpting I do like the books and video's say and mark off the eyes (mid way down) the nose and mouth areas. What happens for me though is that while I am working it the head becomes misshapen and ends up looking like Benjamin Button. ( and I don't mean the handsome Brad Pitt version) So here is head 2.
Head 3 is a little less Benjamin but still not right. For some reason Head 4 went back to Benjamin. Head 4 has slightly different eyes. These I coated with resin that hardens in the sun. This is the best part about head 4. She is still no beauty. I also switched to a mix of translucent and beige Kato clay. This cracked when I took it out of the oven.
Head 5 and my last attempt has some improvements but the shape is still not right. Like the last one there were cracks in the clay. Still not much of a beauty. I penciled some eyebrows just to see if it would help. Not much.
I guess it is back to caning for me.


  1. No, don't quit! Not after just 5. I think they are great! I find kato good for canes but very frustrating to sculpt with.

  2. Julie I think Tony at Kato wrote an article about baking solid round objects buried in cornstarch or baking soda? to help distribute the heat properly and slow down the cooling process to eliminate cracks.Might be worth trying when you put that much effort into the sculpting.
    Diana McNamee

  3. Excellent !!! On retrouve tout l'univers de
    Benjamin Button.
    Bravo !



  4. I think heads 2 and 5 show a lot of promise, actually they are very good. We, as artists, are always so critical of ourselves. Don't give up, take another look at them.

  5. Except for the eyes on the first one, your faces are terrific! We are often our own worst critics.