Monday, 2 March 2009

Tallooley's adventures with clay.

Call me crazy, but encouraged by Brenda, I have decided to share photos of my first attempts at sculpting.

I am such a frustrated sculptor. I am totally inspired by Jodi & Richard of Creager Studios and can spend hours looking at their creations. If I only had a fraction of their talent I'd be more than happy.

I want to sculpt more than anything else. However, I am extremely impatient and even more fussy. I was not sure if I could go through the whole learning process of sculpting. I want everything to be perfect first time round and obviously sculpting isn't like that...well maybe it is for some lucky person but I'm not one of them.

I get inspiration from everywhere. Ideas fill my head....and my mouth. One day after hearing me say "That would make a great sculpt...if only I could do it...whine, whine, whine" Mick said "For goodness sake quit whining you can't do it when you have never even tried.... just go buy some clay and have a go"....or words to that effect. So off to the craft store we went.

Well I have to admit I nearly gave up when I realized how hard to was to mix and condition clay. But, knowing I'd get it in the neck if I gave up already and helped by my friend Patti, off I went.

And here
is the result.

Whilst sculpting this first guy I really had a revelation. I thought I knew what I was about to sculpt...wrong !

I discovered that I don't decide what to sculpt but the clay does.

'He' started out with good intentions of being a female. Then he became a young woman, then an older woman and then a man. And eventually an old man...a homeless and hungry old man.

Every little nudge and poke of the clay changed his expression and put him in a different mood. I'd sit there and just change the shape of his mouth, the focus of his eyes, the tilt of his brow. I didn't get very far in those first few days...I was just so fascinated with how much I could get him to change.

I have to say it was a little creepy...I don't know if this happens to anyone else...or maybe I am just completely unhinged but if it know exactly what I am talking about. I told Mick and he looked at me like he was about to phone the people in the white coats to come and get me.

I had to take his eyes out part way through. I couldn't stand the way he was looking at me...he was far too real. OK stop laughing and get up off the floor...I know he doesn't look anything like a real person but I swear, when he was in my hands he was alive and he was telling me exactly how to work the clay. He wanted sunken eyes, a huge nose and a 5 O'clock shadow...honest.

Ok now I must stop before you do think I am certifiable.

I never finished this little fellow. As much as I believe he taught me the 'essence of sculpting', he was not what I wanted and more importantly I was not happy with him. So he sits there...just a head....still looking at me and most likely mocking me. I shall always keep him though.

For some reason I don't have any urge to create babies, fairies or anything pretty. My sculpts need soul not beauty or cuteness. Oh I have ideas...far more than I'll ever tackle in my lifetime but not one of those idea is what you'd call a pretty sculpt.

I am drawn to create those who have suffered...the hungry, the homeless, the downtrodden, those who have lost love and whose heart is breaking. You get the picture.

Probably the only thing I want to sculpt that is 'pretty' is Rapunzel...and even she is trapped.

Why ?.....I honestly have no idea...I wish I did....but then again I'm not sure if I'd want this part of me analyzed.

So my second sculpt is a political prisoner.

Inspired by the words of an old Peter Gabriel song I knew I just had to sculpt him. This was one of the ideas I have had going back many, many fact I just looked it up and the song was from 1982. Wow...I was 15. I hadn't realized that I wanted to sculpt for so long. My procrastination skills are shocking.

He will sit in a cold, damp cell that is the equivalent of 6 feet square.

Whilst he is not meant to resemble Nelson Mandela (If only I were that good) He is most definitely inspired by him. He is meant to look haunted, hungry, saddened and yet have that look of grim determination. Pushed to the very edge of human suffering, yet knowing it is all for good reason, no matter how hard it gets.

"Let your spirit stay unbroken, may you not be deterred."

And this is why I have such a hard time with clay. I know exactly how he should look but try telling that to my fingers.

His lips are completely wrong and need badly redoing. His body and neck are nowhere near finished...I had only got as far as mapping it out.

Jodi has a great clip on her blog page that shows part of the lip tutorial from her DVD. I wish I could afford to buy all the DVD's but for now that has helped me a huge amount...thanks so much for sharing that Jodi...You make it look so easy :-)

Unfortunately at the moment, with my bad finger, I cannot grip the clay well enough to work on him. So he sits in a plastic tub where he'll hopefully be safe until I can work on him again.

Well....that turned into a bit of an epic.

If you have made it this far I'd be happy to hear any criticism....even the worst. I really want to learn how to do this and, knowing where I am going wrong, is the best way.


  1. I think you've done really well. I'm going to have a go at making a witch/wizard.. I promise I'll post it on my blog..

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I wish I can give you what you consider constructive criticism but as far as I am concerned, what you did are amazing, Jayne. I don't know why you are not happy with them especially if it is soul you are looking for. I hope you finish your dolls, I believe soon enough, you will see what I see and wonder why in the world you didn't think they were good enough :).

  3. They are different; may be we need something which is not cute and pretty, life is not always like that. I like your homeless, he makes me think, can be unpleaseant but surely useful. Give him a body because his soul is already there. Mini hugs

  4. What a wonderful post. Have you thought about sinking the checks in a bit more on your prisoner? It seems to me that in his sad situation he might not get quite enough to eat some days.

    I like "pretty" dolls just fine, but the dolls I love are the ones who are real. Please don't stop making the real ones.

  5. I think you did a great job and think you shold finish him rather than just keeping his head. I do think though that some people are better at one thing than an other and i reckon you would be super at making strange creatures like goblins and elves etc. Perhaps give those a go and see what you come up with.
    Thats what i'm going to do when my pro sculpt arrives. I think i would be good at anything other than a human face because you can just about go with anything rather than having to get it all perfect. Mind you, i had a go at making ears and have to say they looked anything but.
    I love your flowers by the way and wish i could make them so well. Not my thing though and everytime i've tried i just end up with a mess.
    By the way, do you make foxgloves? This is my favourite flower and plan to have some made or buy some for my witches garden. I don't want them to be too perfect and so will need to have a slight witchy twist to them. Perhaps withered leaves would look great.
    Way past my bedtime. But thanks for dropping by my blog today. Nikki x

  6. Forgot to say. I think your man with the body is wonderful and hope to see him finished.

  7. Hi Jayne...

    Your first attempt is brilliant!! No two ways about are on the right track. You should absolutely finish him...and then keep him close for inspiration and learning...I always told our students...the first pieces we all do we think are our worst attempts, but they are not... they are the ground level of learning...from each piece we grow...that's why it is important to keep our first pieces close (I still have all of mine) each day they remind us of the direction to head in, each day you will see something new that you could do a little better from those first pieces...and you will grow from there. All of Our first pieces are actually the most important ones in our lives... they are the purest form of 'You' the beginning sculptor...

    Keep at it... and marvel at your growth
    Can't wait to see


  8. Hi Jayne!
    Your little men are amazing. You are so clever! Your birdhouses are gorgeous too, I don't think I would have the patience to paint mine so beautifully. I love the little hook idea at the top, I might just have to have another production line. Thanks for the bookshelf tutorial, every tutorial helps!

  9. Thanks you all so much for the comments….the feedback is very much appreciated.

    Debbie...Definitely have a go. I hope I’ve conveyed how much fun it really was an eye opener for me.

    San...I hope you are right. I will keep them as a reminder and maybe one day I’ll see they weren’t so bad for a first attempt after all. you made me feel guilty by not giving him a body. I am glad he gave you pause to think though...that was something I hoped would happen…good to know it did.

    MiniKat...excellent point. Strangely enough I am planning on showing his ribs some so imply his hunger...don’t know why I never thought of his cheeks to show the same. Thanks.

    Nikki...You have a good point about making mythical creatures. It was something my hubby suggested when I was getting frustrated that my faces weren’t human enough. Like you say you can go with anything. It isn’t something that jumps out at me though and personally, I sort of see it as a bit of a cop out at least as far as I am concerned. And that isn’t to diminish the work of the artists who create these kind of figures…I love them; I just have no desire currently to sculpt them. I feel that, seeing as how that isn’t what I truly want to sculpt, doing so would compromise my intent somehow.

    Liberty...Thanks for the compliments. I am glad you are enjoying the other posts.

    And last but certainly not least...Jodi.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I admire your work so much that your words motivate me more than you probably would imagine.

    The purest form of me...yes, indeed they are. I find my flowers fairly easy to make but it really takes it out of me mentally.

    As cheesy as it sounds, I put my heart and soul into 2 lumps of clay and I hope I never ever lose that.

  10. Jayne, I'm thinking back to when you showed me your first attempt at sculpting. You said, "Don't laugh."
    I wasn't even tempted. You have a real gift. It may not be in the mechanics of your sculpting yet, and you will, I suspect, have to get past your insatiable desire for technical perfection. ((((())))) Afterall, these are human sculpts you want to bring into being, as opposed to your amazing flowers. Especially the type of people you wish to portray will be, by definition,imperfect. I have all faith you will get where you want/need to go with this talent.
    The prisoner sculpt is such a good start. He exhibits a noble heart even in his incomplete state.
    Love, Patti

  11. How did I miss this post?? I'm so glad you posted these pictures, Jayne. What did I tell you?! Since you wouldn't listen to me or Patti, maybe you'll at least listen to a pro!

  12. Thanks Patti....for being a good friend and having faith in me. A noble heart..... I am so pleased that came through.

    Isn't it just a marvel how what starts off as a lump of clay can become so much.

    And Brenda...I was wondering where you were LOL....telling em to post the pics and then abandoning me :-) Thanks....and yes I'll start listening !


Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment :-)