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12.11.12 The tale of the mane and tail that became my main obsession

He’s finally done — Peppy Poco ChaCha.
As you might have noticed, it took much longer than I thought it would.  When I started on this little diversion of a project, back in January, I thought this would be easily completed within a couple of months.  Right.  Sigh.


Then I got all excited in August when I finished the main sculpture and Barry made a waste mold so that I could have a hard resin master to work on.  Just add a mane and tail.  No big deal.   Right…  Sigh…

Except it turned out that the tail had to be carefully designed as a support and balance structure.  Just a wee bit of engineering. That was the last blog entry. In September.  Sigh…

Since then tale of the mane and tail has become my main obsession.

Quite often, I have been disdainful of manes and tails as a sculptor. Especially manes.  They only cover up all that gorgeous neck structure that I love so well.   And, let’s face it, other artisans like to customize manes and tails to create a unique piece, so why not make it easy for them by not having a cascade of mane that will just be dremelled off anyway. (Is “dremel” officially a verb yet?  If so I suppose I can properly use a past-tense version…) So for the past few years I’ve kept manes pretty sparse.

Fraley14_ChaCha_ManeDet1_10x8_72dpi_typeBut now I was faced with a dynamic sculpture demanding that a complete story about movement be told. Where did that movement begin?  Where is it going? How fast?

Beyond depicting the structure of bone and exertion of muscle and what visual element do you have to work with? Hair. Long silky hair.




I think there’s a nice flow when all’s said and done.

But how did we get here?  Lot’s of layers:



A note here about the tail.  I started out being very swirly and curly, a highly dynamic sculpture in it’s own right.  But that didn’t work with the overall design of the piece.  Too busy, too eye-pokey for an area of the sculpture that is intended to depict a pivot point.  It was more show than flow.  In the end the idea of “Flow” won out.


Peppy Poco ChaCha will be available for order starting tomorrow, December 12, 2012.  Newsletter subscribers will receive an alert later tonight with more details.

Happy Holidays ~ Lynn

07.20.12 Now Producing "Aliens"…

Ok, not really. But, my new sculpture sure looks like an alien in this photo.  Or a lava lamp gone wild.  Or a batch of “magic rocks”.  Or?  
So what are we really doing?  We’re making a “waste mold” of a
nearly completed sculpture. This one in fact — Peppy Poco ChaCha (say that three times fast; go on, it’s fun!)

The mold Barry is working on now is an intermediary step in the overall process of creating and producing a new sculpture.  We’re only pulling one or two castings from this mold to get a hard-bodied master for me to work with. Thus it’s referred to as a “waste” mold. However, this is by no means a waste of time or effort!
You’ve no doubt noticed that the sculpture has no mane and tail… yet.  I decided that in order to avoid damaging the soft clay body I would wait to add the mane and tail to a hard resin casting from the waste mold.  There are a few other details to add, and I like to see how the piece “reads” in white resin before committing to a production mold. 
Going through the exercise of making, cutting apart and then casting into a waste mold gives Barry a better feel for the piece overall and that will make designing the production mold go much more quickly for him, since ChaCha’s idiosyncrasies will already be dancing through Barry’s subroutine so to speak.
Here are a few pictures of the waste mold as it’s being built up layer by layer.  Yes, it would be quicker to make a dump mold, but that would require a lot more silicone rubber.  Pricey stuff, that silicone rubber….  

Ok wait, first let me show you a diagram of the two different methods, then we’ll get back to pictures.
top: a multi-layered “brush-up” mold
bottom: a “dump” mold in which the sculpture is suspended in a container then mold material is poured (dumped) in around it.
Shown below is the first layer of a brush-up mold.
The pink and the blue are all the same silicone rubber (Smooth-On Mold Max 30), with different dyes added to each batch to keep track of the layers .
Then another pink layer and it’s time to work right side up again.

This top view gives you an idea of the all the layers that were added while ChaCha was upside down.

Now it’s time to add more silicone goo to the topside.  There is method to this madness.  The first few coats are drizzled on with a very runny mix of silicone, so that the rubber can ooze its way into every nook and cranny of the sculpture, capturing all the fine detail.  

Later layers have had a thickener added to the silicone in addition to the dye, which makes for a more-putty like consistency that builds up thickness more quickly.
After a couple of thick coast right side up, ChaCha gets flipped over again for more layers.

Now the mold is ready to have plaster applied to the outside to create a hard “mother mold” to support the rubber.  See the little purple bumps with “t-pins” stuck in them? (Indicated by the red arrows)  Those will be registration locks for the plaster mother mold.  
Barry will let all this set up at least over night, then apply the plaster.  At that point the only photo I’d have to offer is of a white blob.  That’s none too exciting, so we’ll wait to catch up with this project when Barry starts to cut all this apart.

Would you like to learn how to do this in a hands-on workshop with Barry?  

He’s seriously thinking about holding a workshop next year, so your input is really important. Consider this before you respond though, you’ll need to bring your own ready-to-mold sculpture, and it will take at least three days, (probably really four or five days!) to cover the material and make a mold. And the going rate for any professional quality workshop these days is about $100 per day.  So, with those factors in mind, what do you think?  

Please leave a comment to let us know!  Thanks 🙂
I still like the alien look…

07.16.12 A Calf’s Eye View

I wonder what those calves think when the strange centaur creature starts to winnow them from their fellows.  It must be utterly bewildering to them.  Until now their whole lives have revolved around the importance of staying *with* the herd. 
Of course being equine-centric as I am, I’ve only managed to sculpt one half of a calf’s centaur nightmare.  And actually, he’s a gelding.  Peppy Poco ChaCha.  By name paying homage to a couple of strong families in the Quarter Horse world. And the ChaCha part?  I can’t help but think of nimble dancers when I watch a cutting horse work a calf.  And it’s just fun to let the name trip off your tongue — peppy poco chacha, peppy poco chacha…  
The sculpture is now out in Barry’s workshop having layers of silicone rubber drizzled over it to build up a waste mold.  Here’s one layer:

And another:

Really not very exciting to watch.  Like paint drying.  
Good thing I have some fun reference photos to share with you from the Idaho Cutting Horse Association show I attended in March.  Enjoy! 

01.25.2012 A Fling with an Old Flame…

He’s dashing, dark and handsome. 

It’s amazing I hadn’t fallen under his spell for so long — 

But then again he’s been on a shelf in the back of a dusty closet for about five years.  Out of sight, far out of mind.

This zippy little cutter started out as a demonstration piece at a live show, seriously, about five years ago.  Maybe longer.  I took him as far as I could and then got frustrated with him.  So he got shelved.
Last Saturday, my sculpting buddy Leslie Tengelsen came over to hang out and work on one of her sculptures, and she gifted me with an issue of a stock horse magazine.  Seeing the cool cutting horse pictures in it made me think of this little guy.  I dusted him off (aahhcooooo!).  I tweaked his pose just a snidge.  And the romance was rekindled!

Ah, but I feel so guilty, like I’m cheating on Vata!  Mr. ChaCha must be put aside once more (poor guy’s going to get a complex).

I wonder if any of my artist friends out there have ever had similar such, um, dalliances and flirtations?

01.18.2012 Breathe…

Almost exactly two years ago, I was inspired by the last image in this post at The Equestrian Vagabond to sculpt a pair of horses playing. I contacted the blog owner/photographer and obtained her permission to use the photo as the basis of a sculpture.  

As I sculpted my mind wandered back in time to a group of young Kentucky Thoroughbreds I watched over a period of several days.  It seemed that an early morning wind would inspire the lads to new heights of frivolity.

Young Thoroughbreds at play

Almost exactly a year ago, I started attending a yoga class that is offered to cancer patients (and caregivers) at the Mountain States Tumor Institute, and began to learn the importance of breathing. Sounds silly on the surface, I know.

Breath happens with you or without you.  Think about it.  Or don’t.  You still breathe.

No matter that winds of change whip through your life, you can exert some control over your breath.  To energize you, to calm you.  You choose.

Winds, breath, movement, change — I wanted this pair, and their names, to encapsulate these concepts somehow.  And so the word search began.

Vata“, I learned in my yoga class, is Sanskirt for “wind”. It also implies movement and change. Ruah” is the Hebrew word for breath, air, wind or spirit.

Ruah, I’m happy to report, is now covered in pink silicone goo; the molding process has begun!  Here are a few photos of him before any goo…

In this sculpture I chose to use a different type of clay for his mane and tail. The lighter colored clay is J-Mac Classic Clay in Firm.  In addition to the stiffer texture which helped achieve some nice thin crisp edges, I liked being able to visually differentiate between “strands” of mane and the body of the sculpture.

Now that Barry is working his magic with Ruah, I can switch my attention to Vata.  Look for some new pictures of him soon!

By the way, “Ruah” is also the name of a nice bottle of red wine produced by Desert Wind Winery over in the Columbia River Valley. A glass or two produces a happy sigh at the end of a long day.  After proper meditation of course.

11.01.11 Sculpting Binge

In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)

So here’s the funny thing, I’m a sculptor, but actual extended sculpting time is a pretty rare treat.  

Last week’s sugar binge and the illness that followed took most of the week to shake off; it wasn’t a lingering physical ookiness so much, it was more psychological. Maybe because I haven’t been that sick in a long time.  Possibly ever.  Messed with my mind as much as with my gut.  So by the time Friday afternoon rolled around I was fried. 



Not able to deal — with anything. 

The only healing refuge I could think of was the little back room where I sculpt now.  Close the door, crank the music and bring forth a new personality — which was duly documented for you.

In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)
In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)
In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)
After about six hours the left side is largely in place as far as the general feeling and expression.  Now we must deal with the other side; with a brand new day comes a new side of the face to sculpt!
In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)

First, I want to be sure everything is equally spaced from side to side, so a rough eye orbit is a good place to start.

In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)

 Next, the mouth.

In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)
And then the next day, a nostril…
In process, "Vata" by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)

In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)

as well as some fine tuning on the other side.
In process, “Vata” by Lynn Fraley, Chavant Le Beau Touché clay and Victory Brown wax (for the ears)
And that’s pretty much where he’ll have to stay for another week.  If I’m lucky, I can indulge in another sculpting binge next weekend.  The weekend’s forecast is for cold, wet weather; my cozy room would be a good place to ride that out.

04.07.11 Just Chillin’

You just never know what you’ll find in my frig these days!
Nope, not a chocolate mule! That’s a wax version of Tuesday which I’m working on to adapt for bronze. It hasn’t always been the case, but microcrystalline wax is now one of my favorite media to work in. As you’d imagine, wax is heat sensitive, so after I’ve warmed up an area to manipulate it (with another fancy tool — a hair dryer!) the piece gets to chill out in the frig for a bit.  Such a silly image, I had to share it with you 😉

09.16.10 Rompin’ Along… the Lowdown on Low-tech Tools

Rompadeaux by Lynn Fraley being molded by Barry Moore of Bear Cast Molding and Casting Service
O.k. the secret’s out, Barry’s favorite, “low-tech” tools — shop towels and a toothpick!!  Sometimes you just can’t beat the basics for getting into tiny little areas to clean them up.

As you can see, the mold is coming along nicely; we should be able to start casting soon!


09.14.10 On the Grid — a studio tip

I may have told you about this before, but it’s just so darn handy that it bears repeating — grids are good.

In the bottom of each damp box is a section or two of plastic grids which raise the foam supporting a piece up off of the damp plaster block, but don’t block air circulation.

Out in the open air, lay them over wire shelving to form a nice drying rack that gives plenty of evenly spaced support to tiles or other flat-bottom ceramic ware.

So where do you find these great grids?  In the lighting department of a hardware store — they are actually those grids that sometimes cover fluorescent ceiling fixtures.  They’re inexpensive and easy to snip apart with wire cutters to a custom size.

No doubt there are other uses for these plastic grids — I invite you to share your ideas in the comments section.