Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to make a bas relief award plaque honoring Bob Barker...Part 1

finished plaque, added after this post was first published

I got an unexpected call the other day from Mercy For Animals.
They saw my mice up for silent auction at the Humane Society's Genesis Awards recently.
They wanted to know if I could make a calf in bronze they could award to Bob Barker on June 4th, so they'd need it shipped by May 25th.

Great opportunity, but not enough time to research, make, mold, pull waxes, invest, burn out, cast, clean up and create a patina on a calf in the round!

I wondered if they might fancy a plaque instead?
That would be do-able, with hopefully some wiggle room in case of any unexpected casting issues.

'Perfect', came the reply!

I think Bob Barker is a great name for someone who supports animal activism.
After all, plenty of creatures bob up and down, and then there's barking...

I wonder if he ever just lets loose and bobs about the house barking up a storm at the same time?
I would;
If that was my name.

Anyhow, a combination of lots of calf photo's from Mercy For Animals, and my own results from digging for more, along with some anatomical info got me familiar enough with the shapes and proportions to design my plaque.

I have always enjoyed the stylistic sensibilities of a lot of Art Noveau, Art Deco, and the Arts and Crafts movements.

I wanted to incorporate that hand crafted feel to the lettering as well as the relief, so I whipped out my pencils and got busy.

I did the lettering first so I could see what space I might have left over to work with for the image.

I scanned them and jiggled them about a bit in photoshop...

Next operation: transfer the image to my masonite board and start laying on some clay!
I used some white trace down paper (kind of a white version of carbon paper).

 Oh, those black blocks are magnets. I made my drawing board from thin foamcore over sheet metal so I can have it up at an angle and keep things in place.

After taking care of the furthest away elements I used wax paper over my drawing to make the background legs since they lay over the far background and I'd get it all chewed up if I tried to do it in place.

Getting it off the wax paper is a bit tricky since I prefer a fairly soft and quite sticky wax based clay!
Popping it in the freezer for a few minutes stiffens it up a bit, and pressing the clay into my fingers while folding the paper back on itself seems to do the trick...

Anyhow, as you can see, since I'm an artist living in Santa Fe I've enjoyed myself giving it a bit of a South West feel with the distant rain and what have you.

The clouds and terrain certainly make great design elements.

What a spooky looking calf!

You have be very careful when putting elements together that the whole doesn't get disjointed, all of unrelated thicknesses and what have you.
But I find keeping a careful cross reference back and forth throughout the process allows things to work out fine...

So far so good...

Ignore everything in focus!!

 My camera thought I wanted to take a pic of the floor (it's so very interesting, after all!).
The blurry strip in the foreground is an edge-on view after sticking my smaller masonite panel onto a slightly larger one, and kind of 'grout filling' between them with clay.
I took the pic to show how low the bas relief is.

By being careful how I define overlapping planes in the sculpture I've been able to achieve a good sense of three dimensional form, in barely more than two dimensions.

I suppose drawing for a living my whole life has helped out with that!

Next time...

Incidentally, there's no spoilers here since I learned that Bob knows he's getting awarded and I have been given the all clear to post 'in progress' reports!

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Rolls Royce of shoe horns has completed its test drive...

Snail shoe horn

Wall hanging tree frog shoe horn

Lately I love putting sneakers on, perhaps more than anyone else alive!

I've been using my extra long tree frog shoe horn most days.
I whip it off the wall to slide into my sneakers, but it feels so nice to hold I usually swing it about a bit before hanging it back up!

I might even chase Meridee about with it if she happens to be passing at the time!

It feels great to hold. Nice and  heavy, with perfect balance since the heavy frog is at the grasping end, a bit like the pommel on a sword.

Edition of 25. The dark shape at the bottom of this picture is to the top of the slot for wall hanging.

The snail shoe horn sits neatly on the mantel, and when I'm planning to squeeze my plates of meat into my sneakers whilst sitting, I whip my snail off its stand and take care of business that way.

One of the most fun things about being an artist for me is that I can make things for myself that otherwise  I'd have to be Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet, or Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar or Donald Trump to own.

In fact I had to sit my Walmart shoe horn down in the board room earlier today, for a little chat...

'Walmart shoe horn...

It's not that you're not doing a fine job.

You are.
You get my sneakers on very nicely.

You're nice and long, with a flexible spring. I never had to lean down at all.

That string in your  handle lets me dangle you from anything.

You're as light as a feather, and thinner than my new bronze shoe horns.
You've always slid between heel and shoe with no trouble at all.

But you're cheap.

You look cheap, you're bendy, and you're no fun to hold.

Once I've got my sneakers on, I can't wait to drop you like a hot potato.

Just take a look at my Rolls Royce of shoe horns.
Either one.
I can't bear to put them down.

Why couldn't you be more like that?

Walmart shoe horn, I'm left with no choice.

Get out.


Click HERE to see all shoe horn related posts (making of, etc).
Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chameleon #1 bronze bas relief plaque

Here's how my bronze bas relief plaque turned out...

I think this frame really sets my vine crawling chameleon off nicely.
Unframed bronze plaque
The back has washers welded into place for hanging unframed.
Just for scale, and an idea of thickness...

And if you click HERE you can see some in progress pics...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille
Bronze plaque (as well as all my sculptures) are copyright © Steve Worthington

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mice up for auction at the Hollywood Humane Society Genesis Awards bash...

It's the special 25th anniversary Genesis Awards event for the Hollywood Humane Society.
It's on Saturday March 19th at the Century Plaza Hyatt Regency.

I don't know if tickets are still available, but if you click HERE  you'll be at their website.

I've got a bunch of mice up for silent auction, so I hope they do well and raise a big bunch of cash for needy critters.

Up at the top there is my ad which is going in the brochure...!

Manitou Gallery's show was lots of fun last night (any excuse for a glass of wine and lots of chin-wagging!), I think it will stay up for a couple of weeks until they start preparing for the next one.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pugnacious Mouse's first public appearance...public indecency and a tree frog guarding books.

Manitou Gallery is having a joint show for the better behaved of my sculptures and Jennifer O'Cualain's paintings tomorrow (Friday March 4).

Pugnacious Mouse will be making his first public appearance 'in the flesh', so to speak - for order taking purposes only, since my other 'metal master' is on the way to the foundry and if it gets lost in the mail I'll have this back-up ready.

Rumpy and Pumpy Mice weren't invited to the show, in fact they were asked to stay away since they have no sense of public decency and simply can't control themselves in front of people.

There'll be plenty of other newly finished things besides Pugnacious which will be at the show, and they'll be making their way onto these pages soon enough...'s a tree frog you can hang on the wall (or book case, or anywhere!)

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille