i spy

the plan for today was to cast an area of a face, however i didn’t have a suitable subject to experiment on, so i had to be my own model. and believe me, taking a cast of an area of your own face is not the easiest thing to do!

i began by mixing up some alginate – if you have ever had a cast made of your teeth at the dentist, this is the stuff they use! it’s a powder which you mix with equal parts water, but you have to work incredibly fast as the timescale between mixing and curing is under 3 minutes. it picks up a fantastic level of detail as you can see from the photo..

the cast shown above is made from plaster. i also used the mould to make a wax positive, below.

i’ve never worked with wax before, so this was something of a learning experience for me. you can see that the wax is inferior when it comes to picking out detail from the mould. however, it does have a lovely translucent quality which gives it a more delicate appearance than the plaster.

following these little tests, i feel better equipped to work with the materials on a bigger scale. so, now i need to find a brave soul who will lend me their head so that i can experiment on them!



a bouncing baby

this is the result of my recent labours…

the bobblehead in the photograph above, is a positive from the sculpt i told you about in the previous post. it’s made out of latex, so is quite flexible in your hands. the head is a little small, but the other physical proportions are a reasonable basis to start constructing something a little more medically accurate…

my rough plan for the next stage:
build a foetal skeleton, using this lil’ guy as scale reference. although i’m currently undecided whether i should make this posable or already in a rigid fetal position. then i will layer tissue and semi-transparent skin over the skeleton frame as appropriate.

i have yet to begin creating a full-sized head for this little fella to reside inside too. i suspect i have a busy few weeks ahead of me!


raw materials

i went hunting for supplies a few days ago, and came home with latex, alginate, clay and plaster. i have clear wax and a few other bits and pieces on my shopping list, but i figured this little batch should get the project underway…

construction started with building a rough maquette of the sculpey baby i made, only scaled-up to the approximate size of a brain! [the pen should give an idea of scale.]

i decided to make the head separately, to allow the foetus to be posed better once they are moulded. however i felt that it turned out too baby-like [kind of too pudgy in the face, if that makes sense?]. so i made a second thinner head [below right] to be a closer  match to the underdeveloped stature of the body.

sadly this wont be a 360° sculpture. to keep the moulding process simple, it must have a flat side [indicated by the scored lines]. can i also point out that these clay sculpts are only intended as prototypes, hence they have very minimal detailing.

i have just poured plaster to create the moulds for the body and the smaller head. so over the next few days i will clean them up and make latex positives. i will let you know how it goes..


beneath the surface

earlier tonight, i watched a bbc four documentary which looked at the the Otago Medical School, New Zealand, which is one of the last schools in the world that enables their students to do ‘significant human dissection’. [more information here]

for me, the most fascinating moment came when the skull was opened up to expose the inner workings. the students cut through the meninges, then proceeded to explore deeper still…

on a similar theme of anatomical dissection,  i came across these photographs..

i should tell you that these are exhibits from
The “Luigi Cattaneo” Anatomical Wax Model Museum. [link]

personally, i find these to be these beautiful albeit-haunting images.

and, knowing they are sculpted creations does make them more palatable than if they were preserved parts of dissected cadavers. although in that very same breath, it makes the artistic skill behind them all the more impressive.

my desire to construct a bisected-head with anatomically accuracy has truly been invigorated!

EDIT: i have since found out the credit and copyright for these photographs belongs to a NY based photographer called joanna ebenstein.


distant relations

the idea of having a baby inside the skull – in place of a brain – struck me as such a strong idea the very first time i heard it. i was astonished that i had never come across it before.

i grew up with comics, reading sci-fi and horror stories, absorbing the artworks of hr giger and clive barker..  yet this was still a completely original idea. i’ve spent some time search online looking for references to such a concept – either in art or as a medical anomaly.

to date, i have only found two images which have similarities…

the above piece is by an artist called bayard baudoin, and is for the album 10,000 days by the band Tool. this image was sourced from a post the artist made regarding this completed work [link]

the second piece is from a book of poetry entitled skinless soulless, by a writer called robert james keeping. i have yet to get my hands on a copy of the book, so i must admit to not knowing who the artist is yet. for the same reason, i don’t know the style or content of the poems in the book  either. should i find out more information i will update this post – but for the meantime let me simply point you to amazon where you can purchase the book [link]

both images share similar subject and context with the concept i am looking at, but i do feel the implication in these artworks are more of a baby-in-mind, or a foetus/new life being at the core of sentient thought. the metaphor is more important than anatomical perspective as neither image uses the brain placement in the skull cavity as a womb.

my search for similar themes shall continue…