Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Satyr's Head"

This piece was done in 2008. It's not that big, the face alone is about the size of a fist. I love satyrs, and have probably sculpted too many... I still have a whole bunch of faces I'd like to sculpt, possibly as full-sized models with individually inserted hairs, etc. Part of me doesn't want to keep repeating myself, but the other part has a strong desire to create more and better satyrs.

This guy was originally going to have a beard and mutton chops, which would be fine to do if he were cast in silicone or something. But he's done in polymer clay, and I haven't found a way to convincingly put `real' hair into a sculpture made in that stuff, or any rigid material for that matter. I could punch the hairs in before the clay is baked and airbrushed, in the way wax dummies are made (I think the hair is completed on them before they're painted), but I can only think that would leave unsightly holes where the needle inserts into the scalp. I don't know how it works to smooth the clay over in those areas, seems more trouble than it's worth.

At the same time, the total lack of hair does make him seem more of a bitter old bastard, which is what I wanted. Photograph by Steve Unwin.


  1. I am sorry I can not technicaly help you with the ful or the beard, but it is a wonderful piece!

  2. Hi Dave,
    found your blog here via the Shiflett's forum... I also saw your work in Spectrum.
    I love this piece, it's all in the wrinkles for me... very inspiring.
    Could you shed some light on the sculpey mix you use. I use sculpting wax myself, but obviously a mould is required to obtain a 'hard copy' and this is a process that I'd like to skip.
    Thanks for sharing this. Top class work ;)


  3. Hi Wayne,

    Thanks for your question. I use a mix of sculpey III, super sculpey and fimo. There's no particular reason for mixing the brands, but I find fimo a little bit firmer to sculpt, and slightly more resilient once baked. I use the super sculpey for extending the fimo, since I can't always get the colors I want at the store if they run out.

    I mix different colors of sculpey or fimo to obtain the base color for the clay I use-this way, the final product is already the color I want and I just paint thin layers on top of it after baking, which looks more realistic.

    I don't have any particular formula, I just mix the clay to be the lightest shade I want on my model, and actually veer towards making it more opaque than translucent. Fimo tends to be fairly opaque, except in thin places. As long as the final, baked product has translucency in thin areas-like the ears, it will be realistic. I think that details read better on a small scale when the model is a little more opaque. If it's too translucent, I find the results end up looking too much like paraffin-although that might be desirable if you want the creature to have that texture, such as in a squid or salamander type skin.

    I hope this helps and that I didn't rant on too much!

  4. Thanks David.

    I have some super sculpey and several colours of sculpey III buried somewhere here. I'll have to dig them out and have a bash.

    I'll definitely be making something wrinkly.

    Thanks again and all the best.


  5. Hi David,
    your work is incredible and inspirational.

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