Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fun with polymer clay

A collection of ships, rocketships and space pods, in various scales, which I made over a period from high school (the little blue and yellow spaceship near the right) to just last year (some of the retro-style rocketships on the left).

The big blue-grey battleship, made in 2011, is something of a magnum opus for my polymer clay work.  It's a great medium, but it has its limits; unlike the semi-flexible plastic MicroMachines uses for certain sci-fi merchandise, thin elements in polymer clay WILL wind up breaking if you so much as carry them around in your pockets.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

3-D design and intro to sculpture backlog

I've already published my second assignment in 3-D design fundamentals, Project XYZ, so let's back up a bit.  Our very first assignment (which I didn't initially post since it didn't seem like a major one) was a representation of "order" and "chaos" and the connection between them, in string.

Order.  From Middle English ordre, from Old French ordre, ordne, ordene (“order, rank”), from Latin ōrdinem, accusative of ōrdō (“row, rank, regular arrangement”, literally “row of threads in a loom”), from Proto-Italic *ored(h)- (“to arrange”), of unknown origin.

Chaos.  Borrowed from Ancient Greek χάος (kháos, “vast chasm, void”).

In Greek mythology, everything arose from the primordial chaos.  Thus the basic concept here is that order is made from chaos through action (as Death has said, "THERE IS NO GOOD ORDER EXCEPT THAT WHICH WE CREATE.").  On the other hand, order is inevitably destroyed through entropy, thus the string leads from chaos to order and back to chaos.

For this assignment, obviously the result was going to be very abstract.  If I'd had more time, I'd have used a lot more string and glue to make "chaos" more three-dimensional, and a thinner frame for "order" so there'd be more emphasis on the string and not the wood, also tried to make it actually look like a loom and not just evocative of one (though as built, it was effective enough; several people told me they thought at first that it was an actual miniature loom).

The third assignment (after Project XYZ) was for a word or letter in 3D form.

"In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
 En arche en ho Logos, kai ho Logos en pros ton Theon, kai Theos en ho Logos.  -  John 1:1

I wanted the image to look imposing and eternal - which is ironic, because this heavily recycled terracotta crumbles easily.  You can't really see it because of the angle, but the base bowed up in the middle dramatically as it dried.  On the right near the bottom is the protruding butt of a bamboo skewer I used to reinforce the base, revealed as the clay shrank while drying.

Our third assignment was for a polyhedron made of flat material.

A mysterious artefact from forgotten ages.  Who knows what message its strange symbols encode?  (Answer:  nothing, I made them up as I went along.)

Technically this is a truncated hexagonal pyramid, in 0.005-inch sheet brass.  I chose a relatively simple shape because the embossing (done with a dried-up ballpoint pen) is very time-consuming.  The shape is closed with silver solder, which practically ruined the flawless burnished finish I'd given it before folding.  I managed to correct it somewhat, but it's still rather ugly.

We've had only one assignment in sculpture, a piece on "community and identity" done at least partly with casting.

About 12 or 13 years ago, my high school literature class was reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, and a classmate said something about an archaetype (I believe a psychological archaetype, but I may be misremembering) of the "self" represented as a figure sitting in the lotus position.  That notion is what I based this image on.  It's personalized in that I for one cannot sit in the lotus position comfortably, but I often find myself sitting in what could be described as a degraded form of it, with one shin (both knee and ankle) sitting entirely on top of the other, and my head resting on my hand.

The sculpture is investment-cast in concrete from a clay original; on the left is the study for it.  The left foot didn't turn out, so I built a "shoe" by pressing thick concrete directly onto the stump.  I also rasped some detailing in (pants pockets and other clothing details).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Things That Aren't Here Anymore, part IV

The limbed trunk of one of Newtown's dwindling number of huge old beech trees, on the front lawn of a house between George School and Newtown Friends School (it belongs to one of them, but I'm not sure which).  I took this photo last year.  I don't know when the trunk was finally cut down, but it's gone now.

Dead tree trunks are rarely of much interest to me, but this one was kinda neat.  With its sides mantled in vines, I always thought it looked like a cliff or mountainside.