Thursday, December 31, 2009

Paperclay and Portraiture

Traditional clay has long been the medium of choice in portraiture modeling. There are different ways of starting - some use a big chuck of clay and start sculpting; others form an internal head shape form and then add clay to it. Either way works. The main drawback is that in big chucks or in thick slabs, the clay gets heavy and some kind of internal support is required. The clay also tends to sag and slump under its own weight, so some waiting time is required for the clay to firm up. If you work from a solid block of clay, most teachers will tell you to hollow it out at some point in your creation process to minimize your bust blowing up in the bisque firing. Still, I've seen many heads loose part of their anatomy during the bisque fire stage as trapped air pockets or improper/uneven drying caused chunks of the work to pop off.

Paperclay certainly has several advantages here. For this project, you will be working with moist on moist techniques.

Some of the benefits of using paperclay for portraiture.
1. Reduced risk of cracking or parts of the piece blowing up, popping off during bisque fire.
2. Dries faster and more evenly than traditional clay.
3. A bit lighter after bisque. Obviously you can still use a lot of paperclay and it does gain some weight, but certainly not as heavy as a traditional clay body.
4. Tremendous greenware strength around certain areas of the face, for example, ear lobes, nose, chin.
5. Ability to repair cracks and broken pieces at the green stage with paperclay slip.
6. If the piece does dry out, it's a simple matter of spraying it with water to re-hydrate your piece without the clay crumbling on you. Keep on hydrating it until it becomes leather hard again and then continue as before.

My friend, Beverly T, who is the owner of the new doggie (see earlier post on Paperclay as SuperGlue) has been using paperclay exclusively for her portraiture figures ever since she started using it. It has worked extremely well for her and she is a total paperclay "convert."
Way to go Beverly! I've linked her website to my blog.

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