Thursday, July 9, 2015

Clay Panther Sculpture Demo p. 9 - Adding a Base to a Clay Sculpture

Update - After finishing this demo, I went back and permanently attached my base. Many galleries will not accept sculptures that have a removable base. If the sculpture will be placed somewhere that has massive temperature changes (for instance, a summer house that is winterized and left empty for the winter), then you will want to leave the sculpture unattached and, when it is not in a climate-controlled area, take the sculpture off of the base (wood and clay have different expansion temperatures and the legs can crack due to temperature change).

The base is now ready for its final sanding. There are two different ways that we could approach this:
  1. If the sculpture will be permanently attached to the base, leave the area where the sculpture will be placed rough so the sculpture will adhere to it.
  2. If the sculpture will be removable from the base, sand the entire base.
For this demo, I will not be permanently attaching the sculpture to the base, but I want the sculpture to be semi-attached for stability. If you choose to permanently attached your sculpture, follow the demo through and I'll make notes where your process deviates from mine. If you are unsure whether to attach the sculpture permanently, follow this demo and leave it unattached, and if you change your mind later you can permanently attach it then.

Sand the base until it is smooth. Use a fine grit sandpaper.

add base to clay sculpture
Under the front legs and the back legs I used newspaper to build up the height of the base. In the cavity that is left, I'm going to use a dowel rod to attach the sculpture to the base.
add base to clay sculpture

Start by measuring the cavity and cut a dowel rod that is 1" to 1.5" longer than the height of the cavity. Do the same for the back end of the sculpture.

add base to clay sculpture add base to ceramic sculpture

add base to ceramic sculpture

add wood base to ceramic sculpture
I'm going to make this sculpture so that the dowel rods are permanently attached to the base, not the sculpture. That way, if someone wants to remove the sculpture from the base, the sculpture will still stand on its own.

Once the dowel rods are cut and measured, fill the two cavities with body putty (remember not to get this on your skin). Place the dowel rods in the body putty, and let it dry slightly. Once the body putty is no longer gummy (but before it completely hardens) rotate the dowel rod to loosen it from the body putty. Every couple of minutes after this, rotate the dowel rods again. Keep this up for about 15 to 30 minutes, until the dowels can be pulled out without the body putty losing its shape. **If you're attaching the sculpture, leave the dowels in place, don't rotate them or remove them, and move to the next step. The body putty should be perfectly shaped so the that the dowel rods can slip in and out when needed, but it should still be a tight fit so that the sculpture will not be loose on the base.

Once the dowel rods can be removed and replaced fairly easily from the sculpture, your ready for the next step.

add wood base to clay sculpture

add wood base to ceramic sculpture
Place the dowels in the sculpture, and hold the sculpture down to the base. Mark where the holes need to be drilled for the dowels. Use a drill bit that is only slightly larger than the dowels so that the glue will hold them in place. Drill into the wood slightly deeper than the dowels will go (place a piece of tape on the drill bit where it needs to stop - this way you won't need to keep measuring). Make sure you drill straight so the dowels will line up correctly. Fill the holes in the base about 1/3 to 1/2 full of carpenters wood glue, and place the sculpture (with the dowels in it) into the base. Let the glue dry completely before you try to remove the sculpture (at least 24 hrs). Once the sculpture has dried, pull the sculpture from the base. The dowels should stay in the wood. You may have to use some force, but do not twist the sculpture (this could break the legs).

**For leaving the sculpture attached - After adding the glue to the holes, use your wood and ceramic adhesive on the bottom of the sculpture. Put the sculpture in place and let dry.

Page 1 - Armature      |      Page 2 - Sculpting      |     Page 3 - Finishing Touches
Page 4 - Unfired      |     Page 5 - Firing      |     Page 6 - Build Base

About the Artist:

horse artist, equine artist, PSSM horse
Since starting my art business in 2004, I have been on a roller coaster ride that's taken me from art, to house flipping, to legal assistant, to horse trainer, and a full 180* back to my artworks.

I'm thankful to get back to my art, and also for the life experiences I've gained.

Things in life that matter the most!  Jen, husband Jared, and Jax

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