Big Heads & Birds

I’ve been experimenting with very large heads, I’ve been discussing a very large sculpture with a collector, and needed to work out the logistics.

Here is method number 1: Clay heads.

photos by Bill Jackson.







I like these heads.I think this one might be ready to cast.


Though they have been hard to make, the tonnage of clay  is quite daunting, resulting in the usual disasters – I began to dread opening the studio door in the mornings!

This is how I tried to make them.

I started with old figure armatures which still had the remnants of the old clays remaining.this was the ‘Carrier’


The Carrier in the reeds at Butley.


I covered them in wet marshy clay, stored for years in my clay bins, very smelly..


This is the second one, with initial first coating already covering a walking man armature.


I took a left turn on a whim thinking it should be a large standing figure..


I started to tie old clay arms and plaster heads on.


I lost confidence in this, deciding to return to the original plan…


That’s  when the problems started ..first thing next morning


I rebuilt another one, and a couple of days later..


I welded in more armature..


But obviously not enough..


Finally stability. (I hope)


I will get the mould making team in, in a couple of weeks and make a mould of the first one. Cracks are developing as it dry’s out, it’s a risky game, fingers crossed..


Meanwhile the second method was getting underway at the other studio.

Tom was scaling up a favourite little head of mine, the idea was to make it 5ft high,

I didn’t realise quite how big this was to be)

The first job is to slice  the head into even sections.


The slices are then traced onto graph paper.


Then a scaled up grid is drawn onto large sheets of polystyrene2017-01-31-15-25-052017-01-31-15-23-42

The outline of the small slice is then scaled up and drawn onto the big one, then carefully cut with a hot needle .


The profile is popped out.


Here you can see how the large section relates to the smaller original.


Each  section is then stacked in order.


Once all the sections are joined, Tom then sands the edges and smooths the forms.


A layer of plaster and scrim is then added.


It’s then handed over to me to work on and bring to life!!


It’s very early days, and the scale takes some getting used to, but it looks like it could be interesting. I have to say at this stage I realise how much I enjoy working directly into clay, from the inside of a sculpture, with real weight and all the problems that presents.  This sliced poly method is about image making, and will take time to own as a sculpture.

Though to create a sculpture of any magnitude it would be a foolhardy sculptor that worked in solid clay. (watch this space)



This is a maquette of the proposed 18-25 ft sculpture!!


The little yellow wax men standing next to him are scale models of humans..


This is a set of proposed maquettes to present to the client, all with little scaled figures next to them..2017-02-02-15-35-11


All this put me in mind to look at some heads from my archive, here are some old favourites..


This version of a Creek Head, one me ‘The Heatherly’s’ prize at the Society of Portrait sculptors…last year


This one was made from Fig leaves.


This one  is about three ft tall, I made a core first then modelled over it in wax, and cast it directly..


Before The dawn


‘Grin and Bear.’

This won me ‘The Freakley’ prize at the Society of Portrait sculptors in 2005.


This is a Muntjac Stag



My friend John Esling, went to visit the ‘Thousand Tides’ piece, lying in Butley Creek, I was glad to see he was still there, and making new friends!! Its nearly a year since he was placed.


This is typical of emails from John:

I was working in Chillesford yesterday and got done quite quickly so I took a trip to see “1000 tides”.

I managed to snap the attached photo before the birds flew off. Two thoughts occur to me.

a. Bad luck.  The bird has just been eating Prometheus’ liver and is perching on his feet ready to fly off .  This will give his liver time to regenerate.  I like the way your man appears to be looking up at the bird which is seems uninterested.

Maybe the tides could be seen as the daily regeneration of Prometheus’ liver with the bird returning daily to eat it.  Perhaps Prometheus is drowned by each flow tide but returns to life on its Ebb.
(Way to many classical allusions for 8A.M!)

b. Good luck. In China a crane landing on your roof is a good luck.  I can’t find anything specific about a heron landing on your toe.  The emperor Hui zong had teams of civil servants scouring China for auspicious auguries.  Wikipedia tells me that this is called “Orthinomancy”.

Incidentally this article also says that “Inauguration” comes from the Latin meaning “to take omens from the flight of birds”.  Maybe Donald Trump should do as Hui Zong did.  A kind of geomancy based New Deal?

Perhaps a sculpture called “Inauguration” might be interesting?!
Incidentally the attached painting may be by Hui Zong himself.cranes-on-the-roofSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Enough already.. please scroll down for previous fascinating postings, check out the website and enjoy the rest of your february….


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