Sunday, April 10, 2005

What's under Neil's sculpture

Under the Neil sculpture is a wooden base with heavy wood dowel supports. The rest of the sculpture is a mix of paper mache, small figures with wire armature, even smaller figures (like the tiny puppets, which are resin) and leather. Thick paper mache is very, very strong, and when treated properly, can last ages. When I make a larger sculpture, I have to have a fair idea of the finished piece to make a good choice for armature. Depending on the type of piece, balance and weight distribution, I will use wood, steel pipe or pvc, or a mixture of the three.
The mechanics (I plan to post a short movie) are accomplished with motors and cams that create very simple up and down movements for the arms and back and forth for the heads. The secret to those is lots and lots of trial and error, quite a bit of cursing, and years of taking toys apart and looking inside.

Thanks for the question!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lisa,

When you say heavy paper mache, how do you make that? I have the distinct feeling it's not the newspaper-strips-and-flourwater thing my mother taught us to make when I was little...

lisa said...

Hi Alys,

By 'heavy' I mean lots of layers (at least 10). And though I use a lot of different additives for different effects, the basic mix isn't that different. I use all-purpose flour (for the salt), water and mix in about 1/3 total volume carpenters wood glue. The glue adds a lot of elasticity and strength. Instead of dragging strips of paper through, I work with a batter-like consistancy and rub it into whatever paper I'm using. (Again, lots of different papers for different effects). Newspaper is crap. I love the idea of recycling but it doesn't work for me. I like painter's masking paper, kraft paper, brown paper bags (the heavy ones) and roofing paper (really thick and must be soaked in water).
Try some---it's fun.

marrije said...

Thanks for those fascinating answers, Lisa! I especially love the ingredient 'quite a bit of cursing' :-)