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(work in progress)

After clearing my project queue (mostly), I finally decided to get back to sculpting. The plan is to turn this into a puppet, but we'll see how far it goes.

I drew a sketch of what I wanted; a mischievous little imp named Harga. I thought I had a clear picture in my mind. But, after the first day I knew I was off course. While the basic primary forms were in place (wide eyes, thin mouth, big ears, etc.) it looked more like a bad Simpsons character rather than the mischievous little imp I had in mind. So, I stepped away from the project for a day. I always find this tactic a good way to hit the mental reset button.

Aside from taking a quick breather to re-access, I decided to take visual cues from two different puppets that inspired my design; a Gelfling and Yoda. Looking at pictures for inspiration is always a good idea, and I keep forgetting that. So, I flattened the forehead and did away with the deep brow to start. Then I got rid of the Simpsons mouth and gave her a cute under lip, as wells as a more proportionate bone structure. I was on the right track, but the eyes were still too sunken, and this look liked the old woman version of what I was after.

If you're wondering why I used a green ball and a red ball for the eyes, here's the story. They were both originally two halves of the same green ball, but as I was working I realized that one of the balls had the word "China" engraved on it. Obviously, I didn't want this as a permanent fixture, so I had to replace it with another ball, hence the one eye being red.

On the next pass I filled in the eyes more, making them look less sunken it. The same for the lower cheeks, giving her a more youthful appearence.

Next it was time to give the puppet a slight expression. A slight scowl should do the trick. I figured it could work for anger, confusion, or for being judgmental. But, overall, I thought it looked mischievous. I also added slight secondary forms, giving her wrinkles above the mouth and very slight crows feet. Not too much to create an elderly look, but enough to add texture and make it more interesting to look at. I also gave her a little Pinocchio nose, for a bit of cuteness.

Lastly, I softened the eyes again, as the scowl re-sunk them. I didn't want to do too much with skin texture and wrinkles, as I still wanted to have an element of youthfulness to it. I gave myself a deadline for this project, because I want to do two more sculpts. It was at this point I decided this sculpt was in range of what I had in mind. Rather than nitpick the micro details, I chose to move on to the molding process. Besides, I knew it would come alive once painted.

As this was going to be cast in latex, I made a Hydrocal mold. No matter how many times I make a stone mold I'm always nervous, because the Hydrocal is utterly unforgiving. It's great that it's highly cost effective, but if you screw up, the entire project is lost. I started by removing the ears and prepping them for a two part mold. I built a white clay box around them. Then I sealed the head; first with Crystal Clear, then with Dullcote. Once dry, I built the clay wall around the head. In the past I always made registration keys, but this time I decided to try the channel method. Maybe this was a bad idea; we'll find out! Lastly, I covered the wood with Vaseline as a release agent. 

I started with the back of the head as it had very little detail, which is the standard process. I don't know if it was because the Hydrocal I was using was old, or if it was the cold temperature (I did it in my un-insulated basement in winter), but the stone set faster than I had ever seen it set before. It caught me off guard, but I still managed to get it on. I was worried about air pockets, because I had to apply the plaster so quickly. But, I started, so I had no choice but to finish.

Since I was now prepared for my fast setting Hydrocal, molding the front of the head went much smoother. I gave the set stone a layer of Vaseline to ensure the two haves didn't fuse, and added small clay wedges to act as pry points. I laid it face up so gravity could help me out during the splash coat (when the Hydrocal is watery). Once the stone set, I put it back upright to cure for an hour, as well as the ears.

The molds came apart very easily, most likely due to the relative smoothness of the sculpt. And it appears to be a successful mold at that! There were a few air pockets in the back of the head, as I suspected, but I was able to fill them with a little excess Hydrocal. The first cast will tell me how well I did. While I have no doubt that I will get a usable latex casting out of it, I may have extra work to do patching the seam. 

As you can see in the last picture, the clay sculpt did not survive the molding process. It never does.

Poor Harga ...

That's all for now. Check back later to see more of the process!

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