The holiday season is upon us yet again and I have to admit that I am sucker for any and all things festive and themed (especially for the holidays!) I almost always try to do something holiday related with my artwork, whether it be a simple sketch, a full painting, or this year (for the first time ever) a hand sculpted and painted holiday ornament!
As most of you know, I love to experiment and try new things with my artwork, so when the opportunity came up to be a part of the Deck The Halls show with Thinkspace Gallery, I jumped at the chance to try something I've never done before! Sculpting!
I'm all about utilizing my resources when it comes to making art, so for this project I enlisted the help of my brilliantly talented friend, Jennie Cotterill. If you're not familiar with her work, do yourself a favor and check it out. She is a master of 2D art, 3D art and all other art in between. She introduced me to and showed me how to use Magic Sculpt to make my ornament. Once I learned the basics, I set off on my own and here is the process I took...
The idea behind my ornament was to have my hummingdeer character flying out of a gingerbread birdhouse. I started by creating an armature (which is basically the skeleton of a sculpture) with craved foam, wire and masking tape. I used light weight materials to cut down on the heaviness of the ornament so it would hang easily without putting too much weight on a christmas tree branch. The frame for the birdhouse is a prefabricated basic wooden craft ornament that I modified and sculpted on top of. I also used a string of mini craft christmas lights and ribbon to finish it off.
Once I had the basic armature done I started layering the Magic Sculpt on top. If you're not familiar with Magic Sculpt, it is basically a putty type of epoxy clay that consists of two equal parts (resin and hardener) mixed together to activate it. Once mixed it has approximately a 3 hour working time from mixing to hardening and can be sanded, drilled or modified with carving tools after hardening. I sculpted in layers, letting the Magic Sculpt fully set between layers so that I wouldn't have to worry about trying to sculpt everything all at once.
I decided to sculpt and paint the hummingdeer and gingerbread birdhouse separately to make it easier to work on small details and paint areas that would otherwise be hard to reach had they been attached. I made sure to leave grooves in the birdhouse where the hummingdeer's wings would rest so that there would be multiple spots to attach and secure it. After finishing the sculpt, I primed the entire thing with a few thin coats of gesso.
After the gesso was dry I began to paint. Although I'd consider myself a fairly decent painter, I must confess that painting a 3D object is far more difficult for me than creating a 3D looking object on a flat surface.
When both parts were painted and varnished, they were ready to be connected. I used more Magic Sculpt to adhere the base of the hummingdeer to the birdhouse and superglue to secure the wings into the grooves that I had left for that specific reason. I did some minor touch ups with paint and detail work to finish it off and voila! My very first sculpt was complete!
I was definitely way out of my element throughout this entire project and I can't say that I didn't have a few nightmares about it. But, I would have to say that overall I had a blast working on it and I'm very pleased with how it turned out! Will I sculpt again? Absolutely! I'd love to get better and refine my technique. That's what art is all about for me. Exploring uncharted territory and constantly learning new things! HUGE thanks again to my friend Jennie Cotterill for all of your help and encouragement! You're the best!
Happy Holidays everyone! Now go make some holiday art!