Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Previews, everyone likes previews

Sometimes I have a vastly unrealistic idea of how long something will take to make. Sometimes I'm dead on but sometimes I think 'simple sweeping fronds with round bubbly ends will be easy' and forget that carefully shaping each little round bit takes time. I'm pleased with them, although I don't, honestly have any actual plans for how to use them...They're the same sort of set as previous ones, but not in the same scale, they're all 3 larger because smaller was simply a bad bad idea.

And a necklace I'm working on, as well as light/photo test. I've never been pleased with the photos in my Etsy shop, and haven't found a useful alternative yet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Inspiration - Steampunk Prague

Recently, the blog http://thesteampunkhome.blogspot.com/ had a little on blog contest (since completed) encouraging members to post their vote for the worlds most steampunk city. And as I read through the suggestions, I realized that no one was mentioning what I think is one of the most steampunk cities of them all - Prague.

For me Prague is a city that's a combination of ancient and vintage, that never quite gets all the way to modern. Even its metro system feels dated (visually if not functionally). Much of the newer parts of the city (not the 'New City' area, which is some 600 years young, but the more modern outskirts) are darkened by polution from industry during the reign of communism, and have not been cleaned and restored giving it feel of a more industrial age then it really occupies.
You can literally walk from the 1960's back through time until you reach the medieval town area.

The old city if full of nooks and crannies and old narrow streets. Buildings to close together for anything but a person of foot to get through, so separate from more modern constructions that you might as well be back in time.With and Old Town Square which boasts the thing that makes Prague the most steampunk place I can think of...

A huge complicated Astonomical Clock, with figures that animate on the hour, including DEATH. Its a beautiful wonderful contraption, the oldest part, the mechanical clock and astronomical dial, date back to 1410. Later, the calendar dial was added and clock facade decorated with gothic sculptures.

In the 17th century moving statues were added, and figures of the Apostles were added after major repair in 1865-1866.
More information on its history and design can be found in its Wikipedia Entry.

It also has the Black Theatre IMAGE - featuring all sorts of performances a bit like a circus and avant guard caberet in black light. If that's not your idea of steampunk, its still definitely too cool not to mention!

So for me, Prague is my very favorite steampunk city. Bethlehem, PA may be a second favorite, but we'll leave abandoned ore processing plants for another inpirational entry.

Photos © Katherine Dungan and Sarah Dungan (sometimes both at the same time, generally with me flailing and pointing. I like to call it 'art directing'. She likes to call it incredibly annoying and shove the camera at me saying 'you take it'.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Process Part 2

Once I have sketches all worked out, and some reference images printed up, I slap them down on my desk and start actually making the thing. Actually sculpting is a totally different mindset from designing for me, and from drawing as well. For the most part its more relaxing, there are fewer mistakes, more fooling around, and much less critical thinking involved.

First I just rough out the general shape of the whole piece. This is important because some things that work in a sketch don't work in 3 dimensions. If I started details without getting the whole form, I might find myself wasting effort when I realize something large needs to change.
I also find that I tend to sculpt just slightly larger then the sketch unconsciously, and I often have to correct that before I start working on details.

Case in point, although this images looks like an earlier version, its actually what I ended up with when I took the last version and corrected the proportions. The lines for the tentacles got lost when I shortened and reshaped the head portion - a good reason to avoid details before the shape is right!
I shortened him one more time after this photo was taken, I really wanted to stay close to the scale of the sketch because this piece is meant for smaller jewelry such as earrings.

Once I was satisfied I had the shape right, I started on the details, tentacles first (mostly because to do them I needed to hold the little bugger by the eyes/body and would have potentially squeeshed the details).

And here is the finished sculpt, details and all.
Rather then an exact visual match of the sketch, there are small changes - little things that worked better with the 3d form for whatever reason. Or that I just found I didn't like as much about the sketch anymore.

Now he's off to be cast in resin. So I suppose Process Part 3 will be sanding and finishing the casts.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Positively worn out

I meant to start the nautilus as a warm up for the cuttlefish that I have half done (I was feeling kind of 'out of the groove' as it were). Instead I just ended up with a finished nautilus. It did give me the courage to make some important corrections to the base of the cuttlefish though.
He needs a few little bits of touching up, which I can see now looking at the image but which weren't clear when I had been sitting eyeing him all day.

Today was a day of meetings, and I'm totally worn out from it. I did, however, find time to set up a fake murder scene on my front porch with some caution tape borrowed from my neighbors (they had loads of it for some reason, in fact when I asked to borrow the used bits they said very cheerfully 'do you need more? we have lots'). It did not fool my roommate who said upon returning home:
"What's up with the caution tape?"
To which I replied, "There's blood too!"
"You mean the red wine?"
"Well yes. And a murder weapon, did you see the murder weapon?"

At this point, our house guest, who was in fact nearly fooled, or at least concerned enough that she knocked rather then coming right in, pointed out the bloody finger prints on the railing and the knocked over recycling bin, and I felt rather proud of myself.
I did feel a little guilty later when, after posting photos was texted by a family member tell me it better damn well be a prank. I had really felt the lack of 'police line do not cross' on the tape would give it away.

Next time...process photos of sculpting.
For now: Murder on my front porch! (it did smell a bit strongly of wine...)