Starting over…


Wow – its been a long time since I’ve posted here… a lot of changes in my life. But now it might be time to start fresh and see if i can get posting and sculpting more again.

I’m preparing for an introductory bjd jointing class at NIADA in Florida in August 2013 right now – (check out the full line up of teachers and classes at

And am in the process of making kits and documenting procedures — so just to get me started – here is a quick concept drawing from the bjd i’m working on for the class :

WIP BJD concept drawing

WIP BJD concept drawing

Jordu Schell class at Anatomytools

I got to take Jordu Schell’s creature sculpting class thru Anatomytools in Alameda in early October. A wonderful class – the sculpts around the room were incredible. And Jordu is fascinating to watch work. He is such a master of what he knows and what he does, he can create perfect forms with what seems like a single stroke. And he showed us how he paints his chavant maquettes to present as concept art – absolutely incredible.

We were asked to bring sketches of an original concept if possible – I’ve been wanting to try some different versions of the preying mantis lady i sculpted back when the world was young, so I started trying to do some sketches.

awhile back, when i was whining about not being good, and being blocked and not being about to come up with ideas – folks suggested some books to read. I got “The Artist’s Way” ebook and started to work thru it. i’m glad i got the ebook – because the first 5 or 6 times i started it i just couldn’t relate to it at all. But since i had it on my phone, whenever i was stuck waiting somewhere, i started opening it and just reading a page or two. and eventually what the author, Julia Cameron, was saying started to sink in, and i can see that it has really helped.

She asks you to turn around the way you are thinking – and i realized she was right – I didn’t want to draw because I was judging my baby sketches against fine artists’ final output and i was too prideful to do something that folk could see i wasn’t great at. Add in, in a couple of workshops I’ve had with him, Andrew Cawrse has told me repeatedly, drawing is a tool for me to get the information i need for a sculpt. not to worry about making a beautiful drawing, just capture what i need to sculpt from.

Ms. Cameron also tells you to relax and let creation flow thru you – she seems to be a deeply spiritual/religious woman – and I found this hard to identify with. But she was right. If i didn’t tense up and overthink things, instead just remove judgement and let idea suggest idea and follow willingly without judging, i started to get closer to the images in my head.

Jordu said something interesting. (actually he said LOTS of things that were interesting) — he said at one moment, when he was starting out, he saw a sculpt and something in his mind said – this is truth. And that is what he aims for now. He feels he only achieves truth part of the time in his sculpts, but when he does it just feels right.

so i’ve started sketching some now – and am finding it really helpful to order thoughts and explore possibilities. still too newbie at it to feel anything but hesitant, but i think i may grow to love it.

so anyway – here is a progression of the concept sketches I worked on for the sculpt :

1. this was the first sketch. pretty conservative, but a start.

first mantislady sketch

2. then started thinking and playing with the body shape

mantislady ortho

3. tried a quick sketch of a possible face – showed it to Andrew and he suggested thinking about the way that insect mandibles work.

mantislady face

4. then followed ideas a little to a slightly more interesting place

mantislady sketch

mantislady sketch

5. and here is the sculpt – I saw her as surreal, smallish, – Jordu wanted her to be earthshakenly large and able to walk – he pointed out that she needed more mass at her abdomen to balance the head, and suggested a large spider like abdomen. I played for awhile and decided i like a carapace, cracked open, with 2 wings extending – and kept the original abdomen with spinneret at the end that shows (faintly) thru the opening

mantislady sculpt

mantislady sculpt

boy – this one is going to be a challenge to photograph…

spent part of May in Washington DC …. and spent time at the National Museum of Natural History. I would have loved to spend even longer in their hall of skeletons…

but while I was there i got this idea for a figure – the Bone Dragon’s Daughter.

The idea being that she is lifting up the skull/mask of the dragon – and its spirit is settling into her as she becomes the bone dragon …

almost put my eye out twice working on the armature for the dragon, so i sure hope this is worth it! to keep it light its body will be skeletal and a combination of paper, flumo and premier….

here are some in progress pics…
woman holding skull of dragon as mask
woman holding skull of dragon as mask
woman holding skull of dragon as mask
woman holding skull of dragon as mask
woman holding skull of dragon as mask

Sun in a Jar….

Once more, Thinkgeek has managed to come up with something that i didn’t realize I needed until I saw it.

Sun in a Jar

I think I’ll get some of these for work. its pretty dismal there right now….

hmmmm – ok, this might be a good idea – or depressing, not sure which —- DaysAgo Refrigerator Timer.

and finally – this one I think i seriously lust after…. need it at work too….
Chain Mail t-shirt

ok, back to work on the molds…. (and not the ones we sometimes find in the refrigerator – that daysago thing is probably a good idea……)


Suzanne Urban has been encouraging me to think about trying to sell something on ebay. I could always use more money for clay — and I’m fascinated by ebay —- just haven’t been able to imagine trying to actually sell there.

but she got me thinking about small things that I might like to make – like ornaments. Have to admit, that kind of stumped me for a bit… we do not participate in any welldefined religion – and we don’t tend to do much for most general holidays (ok – the kids LOVED getting easter baskets full of candy — we love toasting Peeps, and have participated in a fair amount of Peep Research and we each have our favorite style of Cadbury Creme Eggs (how validating is it to be in wikipedia? cool….)

so I wasn’t too sure about what kind of ornaments I could make. But anyway – I started trying to make masks for Asian BJDs and some of my own sculpts – and started thinking how they would make ornaments that I would enjoy.

Mask on Christmas tree

Mask on Christmas tree

I think this could be fun – sculpt a face in oilbased clay, make a plaster mold and cast some copies in flumo. Then make each one unique and different – some with horns, some with hair, etc etc…. I’ve always wanted to experiment with flumo (anything with a name like that has to be worth playing with……) — it is a pourable paperclay —- but boy is it a lot of work to get a clean mold that gives you good casts! And faces I love in the oilbased clay, don’t necessarily look good in the mold — wierd.

beinArt Surreal Art Collective

I was looking for new ideas and images to spark some new sculpts, and came across the beinArt Surreal Art Collective. I had fallen in love with Jon Beinart’s Toddlerpedes a couple of years ago – and then I found his Surreal art website – with a bunch of artists I love like Scott Radke and John Van der Holk there….

best of all – he has some of the best links i’ve ever run across.

(he also is a very kind soul, who added me to his gallery, WOOT!)

the Jester

gave myself a challenge last week – decided I wanted to try again to sculpt a tiny figure in paperclay. (I’m kind of clumsy, i definitely do better with figures at least 18″ tall – I figure fairy sculptors on ebay must have abnormally delicate fingers. I, on the other hand, based on the undelicateness of my fingers, am probably supposed to be sculpting elephants.)

anyway – feeling masochistic, so I started an 8″ figure. Actually its turning out pretty well. fought with her face until I liked it, then covered it up with a mask — now i’m working on detailing her fingers and toes.

my second child looked at her and said she needed corset piercings. (thanks, dear……) so tried that too. I really like the effect – but they don’t look realistic… first child pointed out that in that small scale I hadn’t caught the pulled flesh effect and pointed me to the website of a piercing/performance art group that she knew from Santa Barbara, The Aesthetic Meat Foundation, where there are some of the most incredible leather corsets and disturbing body art photos I’ve found…. very goth very dark. will have to explore some of these images in future sculpts….

for now, here is my naive and innocent jester – work in progress…

jester side back


molded leather masks

was talking with a friend about molding leather, and i remembered a site that I had seen some time ago that had wonderful molded leather masks.

still haven’t found it – but while I was poking around, I found The Maskmaker’s Web

started looking at sites and found Falconrose – incredible molded leather “masks of the Renaissance and Faery”

i would love to make some figures with masks …