View Full Version : microfibers in oil clay for drapery?
05-17-2004, 02:15 PM
Has anyone used microfibers imbedded in plastilene to 'clothe' a figure? I have heard of this technique (though not in detail) and am currently working on three small (18") figures that will soon need to be clothed. The clay will have to be quite thin (1/16" or less), and I understand that this technique will enable me to create slabs that will not tear when sculpted.
If anyone could give me recommendations as to the type of microfiber that would be appropriate, as well as the technique and ratios used, I would appreciate it.
05-18-2004, 11:23 AM
-------ain't interested in contaminating my clay, nor clothing my figures, ---
I once read that michaelangelo soaked cloth in clay and then arranged it to form drapery and folds-----
extrapolating from known data:
it would seem that by thinning the clay via addition of more grease or oil, you should be able to form up clothing o'er your clay figure-while warm and re-shape to your eye------
I've found that melting the clay, and then whipping it also creates a softer more maleable clay----entrained air------but it is weaker---
Sajane: Post a pix when your done please
hope this helped
05-18-2004, 12:46 PM
I have not used this imbedding of fibres technique, but it seems like it would work. You would, of course have clay unusable for anything else afterward. The subject of drapery, clothing, etc., and the sculpting of it is, I think, fraught with issues in the history of sculpture. Part of the "rebellion" against classical sculpture which came to a head in the first half of the 20th Century was against the whole business of sculpting drapery, clothing, etc., out of stone or bronze. It's a curious artifice when you think about it. Some people began to say to heck with that - why shoudn't stone look like stone, and metal like metal. That rebellion is still in process, of course, with good sculptors on all sides of it. But, it is an issue. I never realized that people actually sculpt a naked figure and then "clothe" it with slabs of clay. Why not clothe it with cloth? But, hey, if you like that approach that's what counts. I'd like to see some pics, too.
05-18-2004, 08:31 PM
I have not used this imbedding of fibres technique, but it seems like it would work. ... I never realized that people actually sculpt a naked figure and then "clothe" it with slabs of clay. ...... Why not clothe it with cloth?
I decided to pass when I first saw your question, but I have to comment on jwebb’s reply. My founder has been doing figures for about 35 - 40 years, and he often uses body casts, altering them for each piece. For public commissions, he frequently starts with a bodycast of the model, either nude or in a bodystocking, if the piece is to be clothed. He then alters the wax as he likes, and clothes it with real clothing, cut at seams as appropriate to add it, and paints this clothing with fairly hot and thin wax, so as to retain the texture and “feel” of real cloth. I’m probably being a little brief and inaccurate here, as I’ve never asked him for details.
It seems to me that adding microfibers to the clay should work, as it does in polymer or resin casts. You would have to heat the clay until it is liquid and then stir in the fibers. (They typically are chopped fiberglass, with length about 1/16 inch, I believe.) I used them in earlier resin casts.
05-19-2004, 10:32 AM
Thanks to all for the responses.
Fritchie- I think I'll try your suggestion of melting the clay and adding chopped fiberglass. Do you have any suggestions of where I could purchase fiberglass? Do I need to chop it myself, or can you purchase it ready-chopped?
The wax technique that your founder has used is intriguing. One of my concerns is with texture, which of course would be answered by using the actual cloth. Though the studio I work for doesn't typically do alot of figurative work in the traditional sense, the wax-cloth technique is worth experimenting with.
Rod- One of our concerns is that the clay would be weakened if we added more oils or thinned it through other means. Though I don't typically clothe figures or contaminate clay either, this is for a commissioned piece. Now we can start a discussion about what we do for money :).
Jwebb- The cloth suggestion is a good one, though as these figures are about 18", I'm unsure if the cloth would play realistically in scale. I believe it's not uncommon to sculpt the figure first then clothe it, in order to perfect the anatomy that the drapery hangs from, but I could be wrong.
I'm happy to post photos when they're done. Thanks again for all the advice, everyone. If anyone is interested in seeing other sculptures done by the studio I work for, go to www.handsart.net. I'm not one of the principles, but an assistant.
05-19-2004, 09:45 PM
Thanks to all for the responses.
Fritchie- I think I'll try your suggestion of melting the clay and adding chopped fiberglass. Do you have any suggestions of where I could purchase fiberglass? Do I need to chop it myself, or can you purchase it ready-chopped? ....
I cast in several polymer or resin materials some years ago, before becoming allergic to one and giving up the rest because of noxious and probably hazardous odors. I got this “chopped fiberglass” at a boat manufacturer. It is a standard product, and I think the fibers are about 3/32 inch in length - not what you want to do yourself. It’s not expensive, though I last bought some about 6 - 8 years ago. The glass gives a pale green tint to colorless resin, but this shouldn’t matter with clay.
Do wear at least one of those hardware store formed-paper masks if you use this, because you don’t want to breathe in these small fibers. Many people here have said they use more sophisticated breathing masks, but that’s all I used, plus a long piece of cloth I tied across my face when working.
08-27-2004, 07:47 AM
New to the Sculpture community.
I am a figurative sculptor and I have clothed some of my figures.
you can see them at my website www.msrileystudios.com
the way I cloth them is to build the figure, drape cheese cloth to protect the figure from the clay layer which becomes the clothes.
It is a time consuming techinque but it works well.
I Melt the "cloth layer" and work it on slowly...looking at lots of reference.
Hope this helps
08-27-2004, 07:38 PM
Siobhan - Welcome to the Community! The idea of isolating clay with microfibers from pure clay certainly is a good one. I have used clothing sparingly in my figures, only in males, and typically as shorts - jeans or similar. My founder has created a reasonable number of clothed monuments, but he has used two processes in these lifesized figures, neither involving reinforced clay.
Either he makes a plaster bodymold and then a wax which he clothes in real clothing painted lightly with wax, or he carves a rough body shape in lightweight foam and clothes this in a similar way. Of course, in all cases, the head, hands and other exposed areas of flesh are worked naturally in plaster or wax.
However you do it, I suggest that you keep clean clay separate from altered clay. Oil clay is not cheap, and can be reused indefinitely. I have some that probably is ten or more years old.
01-15-2005, 03:47 PM
This is my first post--and I must tell you how thrilled I am to have found suggestions regarding clothing!
I have not been sculpting long and have only worked thus far with Klean Klay. For clothing, I was taught simply to roll it thin and when it broke, to use aluminum foil behind it. But I could never seem to get it thin enough. And the foil always seemed to get in the way.
Most of the clothing that I use is not actually draped on the body, but usually flying away from the body. (This also usually means that it breaks off at some point.)
But you've given some great suggestions which are greatly appreciated. Thanks for the help!
01-15-2005, 07:44 PM
Welcome, JLynn, and I hope the suggestions prove helpful. Let us hear more about your own experiences.
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