Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Documenting "Pencil Sharpener" work-in-progress | Cut Back 2010

So here is another post explaining how I make some of my stuff in particular the animals for my installation called Pencil Sharpener that featured in Queens Wood (see, because quite often enough at shows I get tons of questions from people all the time asking "how are they made?", "what are they made from?"

So for all the curious cats out there... prrrrr!

First, I start off with creating the basic structure for my sculpture. Working from inages, sketches etc, for this particular piece I was recycling branches that had been lobbed from the back yard to build the body parts. My backyard is a wild haven at the moment so its ok, I know that whats been cut this year will be back by the next! I attach heavy duty plastics to these structural branches and tape them in place using strong gaffer tape. Here you can see the legs are not yet attached and sorta look like how you would find them in a butcher. If you imagine what butchers do, lob bits off animal bodies, dicing them up, we are actually doing the reverse here and putting those bits all back together like lego... sometimes I think about how to properly carve chicken and when you take off a leg it should sorta come off the bone easily in one piece... I'm a bit loopy probably but I see it like putting the legs back on chickens!

One thing I need to let you in on is that when using gaffer tape, never buy it from a pound shop. Over the years I've worked with Shape loads of gaffer tapes and a lot of them lose their stickyness when you most need it! the brand "Duck" tape is more expensive but very good...

As you can see the legs and the body begin to take basic shape and muscle. It is a process sometimes of adding more plastic to build up the 'tissue' and taping it correctly into place. Some people ask me "what type of plastics do you use and where do you get them from?" In truth anybody can get them free of charge if they look around the backs of smaller supermarkets like Budgens, Sainsbury's local. It is a good source for cardboard too! Everytime they get a delivery of stuff, the plastics and cardboard get stacked and are left over from the packaging waiting to be picked up for recycling. You need to know when this packaging gets picked up so you need to raid these places with calculation...

Here you can see how working from sketches underneath I begin to create the shape of the head for the wolf. This is actually made from cardboard as I find it easy to work with, to create tough shapes whilst being fairly easy to cut and glue (with glue guns and tape) and mould at the same time. Of course this takes time to experiment with.

Here I have taped more and added the other side of the head which will take on my wolf like shape. I imagine where the eyes will be placed. In fact a lot of the time making this work, one needs to imagine what it is they will make or add to before hand. Like michaelangelo could see the sculpture in the stone, I see the opposite. One gets a feel for how things should look or build up.

One thing I have later learnt not to regret about my Orthodox upbringing and having the Sabbath each week meant that once a week I could not play with anything electrical (and even draw on this day) unlike during the rest of the week. Sabbath was a peaceful time spent reading books... and playing with Lego and Mechano. These things helped develop my creative craft already at a young age I think!

Next stage, I stuffed the head with plastic to give it strength and durability.This is what I do with a lot of things that need external detail but internal structure. It is the same as creating a cast/ mould and filling it with expanding foam or something.

Now you can see the head attached to the body. Everything looks rough, and taped up like Thomas Hirschorn walls applied to sculpture! There have been times when I've thought about leaving the sculptures exposed like this. Naked and raw. In fact I did such a thing for the bodies in Oil-Of-Course.

There is something aesthetic about the unaesthetic, and I can't quite explain what that is...

It is this next stage that the sculpture begins to take on more structure and solidity. You can see me applying Modrock to the wolf in layers. I cut them from rolls and soak them quickly, let them drip off in the blue bucket beneath, before layering it on top quickly. A tip: I use a medium head paintbrush to sort of paint on the modrock to the tissue and once applied to spread the plaster evenly and cleanly. If you use your hands, it gets messy and dries messy.

Did I forget to mention I added ears to the wolf's head. This is made from cardboard and is covered in gaffer tape to make it water resistant. There have been times where I've had to cover a whole sculpture to make them temporarily water resistant but not here since the sculpture was only supposed to be out for 3 days and it was not expected to be terrible weather yet...(well...) It was a risk anyway (which paid off hehe!) but I was still considering the worst when making it...

...and anyhow a full layer of modrock should keep it protected depending on the number of coats you apply.

Here you can see me at work with my paintbrush working over the back legs of the sculpture with the modrock.

Next thing, I take it outside into the back yard to be sprayed using Belton Molotow Spray paints. Here I sprayed what is to be the base in the colour black...

...And here she is all dark like a dangerous wolf is? well at this stage anyway. In fact at this stage it really looked like a doberman dog. You know, one of those dark looking dogs with sharp pointy ears sticking up, that when you see them makes your blood curdle. I remember seeing them in a film based on a Russian book called The Night Watch. If you haven't seen this, then I suggest see it anyway.

Here I have applied woodchip fur coatings using PVA. If you go to B&Q and ask for PVA they normally send you to the branded one that is pretty expensive and not large quantities. Tip: head to the builder supplies section and there you will find the B&Q branded stuff that is cheap and actually better, and in 5L quantities for about a tenner. Bargain!

With the glue gun, I can apply branches...

berries, and other things to the wolf now later on inside once the PVA has dried and the woochip is more or less in place.

Notice how I've occupied the kitchen space and probably pissing everyone off with it! thanks to all who have to put up with it! Love!

From Jokes, fun times and stupid moments... the far more serious and well behaved ones. I hope you have enjoyed the little insight into how I make/craft this breed of weird and wonderful creatures! Until next time! rrrrrrrr x

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