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Sculpture Class: Taking Shape

Sculpture sketch
Week three was spent creating a smooth surface, sketching out a design, and removing the lion’s share of the stone.

You can read the rest of this series here.

Major progress was made in this week’s sculpture class — but first, let me bring you up to speed on the first two weeks.

As I mentioned in my first post, Nick started me off with some clay to make a maquette, or a model. I played around with a few ideas. Originally I planned on doing something abstract — several other students in my class are making really beautiful abstract pieces, which I can show you in my next post. But while I was messing around with the clay, I had the germ of the idea you see above: a big stone gear sort of emerging from the base. (It’s on its side in the picture.)

Originally I wanted to make it sort of wavy, because I liked the idea of making something that looked impossible. Nick pushed back a little while we were discussing the idea, encouraging me to add details and to make it straight to highlight the industrial motif. Eventually I agreed with him, after I realized the waviness would probably be a tall order for my very first sculpture.

Then in the second class, I got a 24-pound slab of alabaster, seen here:

alabaster-stone

 

You can sort of see it in these pictures, but this stone has a beautiful grayish-brown color when it’s clean. It will look pretty chalky while I’m working on it over the next few weeks, so we’ll just have to imagine the beauty.

So in the second class, I used a chisel and then a file to make a smooth surface, as seen in this video. Chiseling is pretty enjoyable, kind of rhythmic and relaxing. Filing, on the other hand, was a bit of a workout. Chiseling wasn’t as difficult as I imagined, either — Nick just started us off with a quick tutorial on holding the hammer and chisel and how to avoid knocking off a chunk of stone when you don’t want to. It helps that alabaster is pretty soft, too.

So this week, I finished making the smooth surface, then sketched out my design like in the picture at top. It’s not final — I’m planning on adding some sort of hole through the center of the wheel — but it meant I was able to start giving some shape to the stone. Specifically, after that picture was taken, I got the stone rounded off to the edge of the outer circle, through a combination of a power saw and chiseling. It’s probably down to 15 pounds or so now.

Tune in next week for more pictures, an update on what my classmates are up to, and hopefully some more video documentation.

— George

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