FMD#27

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While I am working on the final maquette at about 20” to get refined detail, I squeezed in a meeting with Gary DuChateu in Loveland, Colorado. Gary specializes in 3D scanning and scaling up of sculpture in plastics and high density foam. This is newer technology that saves time. Certainly the old ways still work: meticulously taking measurements from your maquette and using math formulas, scaling up the design. First, you would need to scale up the armature and use plumbers pipe for some and welded steel of the rest. This would all be bolted onto a heavy wooden platform. Then you take flat sheets of insulation foam and using a spray can of insulation foam to act as a glue, you would attach the foam to your armature and cut and rasp into shape at the enlarged size. This would be very rough - simply to bulk out as much of the piece as possible because the oil-based clay that we sculpt in is both very heavy and very expensive. Once you have glued all the foam pieces and then cut and rasped the insulation foam into a crude sculpture you would then begin to apply the oil based clay over the foam and armature to build up layers and begin sculpting. 

You could also do all the work in water-based clay, which is much less expensive…however it could literally take a thousand pounds of water-clay or more. The armature constructed for this type of sculpture is different from that used for oil-based sculpture. There is no use of foam - the work is steel and lots of clay that must be kept wet and wrapped in plastic to control the moisture content. This isn’t very easy to transport to the mold-maker and one must be very careful to keep the clay at just the right moisture level to avoid sagging or cracking. That said, I do love the feel of water-based clay and may choose to use this method for another sculpture in the near future.

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The older, more manual methods of working are perfectly fine and I do use them sometimes, but sometimes it pays to employ the use of new technology - just as a typewriter is a wonderful tool, a computer is another way of working that, while more expensive, is also a faster and more efficient tool. It takes about 3-4 for the scanning process and approximately two weeks for the actual scaling up and milling of the foam.

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Once the final maquette in clay is finished and ready I will pack it up and take it down to DuChateau Sculpture Services where they will make a 3D scan of the work. They will use computer programs to digitally scale the work up to life size. They take large blocks of high density foam and glue them together to the sizes they need. Once they have that file processed they will print the work using a 3d printer in hard plastic since the clay is soft and would be damaged if touched. The plastic is rigid and can be touched using a pointer to follow the shapes. The pointer touches the plastic replica and using a weight and pulley system, another pointer is calibrated to be the enlargement. This 5 point axis milling/pointing machine then is used to cut the foam pieces into the new, larger shapes. 

You can learn more about “pointing up” here. There is also a very detailed explanation with photos on a YouTube video posted by The Sculptor’s Funeral podcast.

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In the photo above you can see the blocks of prepared blue high density foam - some already milled and some ready for milling. On the table is another sculptors work that has already been scanned and 3D printed in white plastic, which they will use using for the pointing up.

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Above are two photos of the pointing machines used to scale up and mill the foam. So once the maquette is scanned, 3D printed and the milled in foam is the done? Nope. They will cut the foam open, construct and armature for both inside and outside the foam and attach that to a wooden base - this will support the sculpture as it is being worked on. I have asked Gary to make the extended arm and the head to be removable. This will allow me to put the arm and head off and place on a separate armature stand to doing the detail work. Working on ladders to reach areas is tiresome and places can be hard to reach.

  The foam is very rough and will likely need areas to be cut. For instance, detail simply won’t be there. They will carve it to about 1/2” from the where the surface should be to allow room for the clay to be applied on top of the foam. For instance, the ribbons on the hat will not be milled - simple too intricate. Instead I will sculpt those separately and attach. Also - details such as buttons, jewelry and other small items will just be shapeless blobs in foam - so I will be sculpting all that detail by hand. Many sculptors will also cut out the eyes on the foam as they foam details are much to rough - leaving hollow holes in the foam that they will then fill with clay and resculpt to a higher detail. 

I will be posting images of the entire process in the coming months so you can see it with Fannie Mae.


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