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Sculpture: Principles & Practice

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   Author:  Louis Slobodkin
Copyright Date:  1949
Publisher:  The World Pub. Co.
Pagination:  255 p. (includes index)
Dedication:  to my dear Mother and Father
who patiently encouraged my work from the very beginning

 
I N T R O D U C T I O N

Sculpture, like all the creative arts, is mainly a process of transferring into some tangible material seemingly intangible ideas.
     The first problem confronting every beginner is where to begin, what to grab hold of, where to get it, and how to go about using it after he has got it. In preparing this book I tried to recall what main problems concerned me and my fellow students a long time ago and, as we developed a little more, what new problems came along with our advancing sculpture experience and technique. I know these same problems have always harassed all novice sculptors. I have taken nothing for granted. I assume the reader is seriously concerned with developing his knowledge of sculpture and its techniques. And too, I have assumed my reader is, as I was some thirty years ago, an eager novice willing to begin the long, rather pleasant journey over the technical mountains that separate a sincere desire to understand and make sculpture from the technical competence and “know-how” one must have to realize that desire.
     There are no short cuts. No modern helicopters or rocket ships can pop a novice over sculpture’s technical mountains. For all the compressed air and electric carving machines that rip through a stone, for all the trick and mechanical devices invented for carving, chipping, casting, polishing materials with which sculpture is made, there are none invented yet which will produce the qualities which we recognize as good sculpture. The machines used for producing those qualities are very old-fashioned (as old as man’s spirit) and they exist where they always have been developed and sharpened—in the mind and heart of man.
     There are many tangling paths which lead the novice astray and waste his time. Some of these paths come to a dead end in technical labyrinths. I have tried to avoid them and to point out instead the simplest and most direct method.
     Conscious of the limitations of the uninformed on materials and implements, I have restricted the tools, materials, and methods I use to demonstrate my arguments throughout this book to those which are easily available. There are no tools or materials indicated here which are not within reach of everyone seriously concerned with the art of sculpture.
     This book begins with the simplest problems that exist in sculpture and goes on to deal chronologically with the many complexities, both technical and theoretical, which face a developing sculptor. The Start, the Method, and the Direction are stressed; purposely the Finish is discussed but not lingered on. A properly started piece of sculpture, properly developed with the patience and sincere effort the work demands, finishes itself. The most dangerous habit any aspiring sculptor can acquire is to stretch a tinseled surface, a polished finished crust, over his own inexperience and lack of development. That is a habit not easily broken.
     I have avoided discussing the once-in-a-lifetime problems or opportunities of sculpture. There are no methods here How (and at the moment I can think of no theories Why) a sculptor should blast, carve, and destroy a mountain to make a monument, or cast a bronze taller than the Statue of Liberty. By the time a sculptor is commissioned to create such colossi he should need no instructions or suggestions from this book or any other. Therefore I have limited my drawings and demonstrations to the normal problems and practices that may confront students and others who have not yet had the opportunity to carry through a sincere desire to create their own sculpture, so that they, too, can enjoy the immense gratification we all sense who work at this form of creative art. . . . .


C O N T E N T S

INTRODUCTION

1. FIRST SCULPTURE
          Three primary elements. Clay without armatures. Modeling tools. Materials, subjects, methods.
     Clay Sculpture
     Building a Simple Modeling Stand

2. MODELING A HEAD FROM LIFE
     Portrait in Clay
          Choosing a subject. Materials.
     Structure of the Head and Neck
     Method
     Theory of Shape
          Method for building shape. Theory of shape applied to head from life.
     Armature for Head and Neck
     Building a Portrait in Clay
     Care of All Clay Sculpture in Process

3. MODELING A FIGURE FROM LIFE
     Studying the Human Figure
          Anatomical structure of the human figure.
     Basic Structure of the Human Figure
     Principles of Male and Female Figures Compared
     Building an Armature for Clay Figures
     Building a Female Figure from the Living Model
     Further Study of Human Figure, without Model
          Study of parts.
     Studying Animals in Clay
          Armature.
     Drawing for Sculpture

4. PERMANENT MATERIALS

5. PLASTER—AN INTERMEDIATE MATERIAL
          Casting in plaster.
     Waste Mold Process
          Materials. Mixing plaster. Method. Steps to waste mold casting. Test for set plaster.
     Waste Mold Process Cast of Head and Neck
     Casting with Brass Shims
     "Pulled String" Waste Mold Casting
     Working in Plaster
          Retouching, repairing, finishing plaster. Repairing blow holes and chips in the surface.
          Repairing and joining plaster pieces. Carving and finishing plaster. Modeling directly in plaster.
     Multiple Plaster Casts
          Gelatine or glue mold.
     Coloring Plaster
          Weatherproofing plaster.

6. COMPOSITION IN SCULPTURE
          Principles of composition for sculpture in all permanent mediums.

7. CARVED MEDIUMS OF SCULPTURE
     Stone Carving
          Procedure. Picking your first stone. How to get your first stone. Method. Finishing stone.
     Carving Marble
     Granite
     Egyptian Granite and Stone Carving
     How to Split a Stone
     Wood Carving
          How to get a block of wood. How to carve your first wood. Finishing wood.

8. TERRA COTTA
          Materials. Direct modeling for terra cotta.
     First Method
     Second Method
     Third Method
          Multiple reproduction. Piece mold for clay squeeze.

9. CAST STONE
          Discussion on the durability of sculpture and pros and cons of cement casting.
     Method for Cast Stone
          Materials. Cement mix. Procedure for solid and hollow casts.

10. CAST METALS
     Bronze Casting
          Aluminum, tin, brass, silver, gold, white metal, lead and iron. Methods. Sand mold process.
          Lost wax process (cire perdue).
     Patining Bronze
          Hot patine. Cold patine. Acid solutions.
     Pros and Cons of Sand Mold and Lost Wax Casting

11. RELIEFS--HIGH AND LOW
          Discussion of principles of relief sculpture.

12. ARCHITECTURAL SCULPTURE
     Comparison of Ancient and Modern Methods of Principle and Procedure
     Essential Training for Architectural Sculptors
     Blueprints, Scale Rules, Scale Models, etc.
     Stone Sculpture for Architecture
     Templet for Architectural Molding
     Bronze Sculpture (or Any Cast Metals) for Buildings
     Enlarging Machines and Compasses
          Discussion of scale.
     Wood Sculpture for Buildings
     Terra Cotta Sculpture for Buildings
     Free Standing Architectural Sculpture
     How to Get a Job in an Architectural Sculptor’s Studio
     A Practical Problem in Architectural Sculpture
     Designing and Executing Working Models
     High Relief
     Feather-edged Stone and Stone Washes
     Architectural Plaster Casting
          Relief plaster cast.
     Armature for Architectural Sculpture
     Preparing Architectural Models for Shipment

13. CONCLUSION
          Uncommon materials for sculpture. Contemporary American sculpture. What of personal style?
          Temperament and sources of inspiration.

A GALLERY OF GREAT SCULPTURE

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

INDEX

 
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