Eco Friendly Art...
My sculptures are created using recycled materials. From the papier mache' which is made from paper products to the base for the sculptures which are often cast off pieces of marble, granite, and wood, the wildlife sculptures depicted on this site are created from recycled materials.
I use a commercial papier mache product and found it to be very versatile. It adheres to many different surfaces and can be sanded and painted once dried. Even after completely cured the finished product can be changed or expanded based on the desire of the artist. The product does not require firing but will air dry very hard.
I love to discuss my work and share my knowledge of papier mache'. This page is dedicated to showing the process of creating a papier mache' sculpture.
Tools of the trade -
The creation of a red tail hawk....
I have not sculpted a bird to date as the intricacy of building feathers with papier mache' has seemed very daunting....maybe not insurmountable but certainly a challenge.
I picked up a very unique piece of wood while walking in a park with my son. The wood is aged and with a character befitting the perch for a regal bird. I picked up the wood and carried it home. A couple months later I saw a picture of a red-tail hawk and it immediately became clear what I wanted to do with the wood piece...it was a perfect base for a bird. Sometimes my projects are a result an image I have seen or a sculpture I would like to create but sometimes the sculpture idea springs from the base as is this case.
Since the wood piece is not very substantial, approximately 2 inches wide and 12 inches long, it had to be affixed to a solid piece of rock and after a trip to a local cabinet shop, (see Artists Comments tab for contact information for the cabinet shop) I found the perfect piece of marble to compliment both the planned bird and the wood piece.
Normally I will use a scrap piece of rock but in this case I wanted to offset the organic form of the wood and ultimately the bird with a smooth finished piece of rock.
There are many phases to making a sculpture so first I had to decide how big I wanted the finished product and how I wanted "him" to be posed on the base.
I then use heavy floral wire and grocery bags to make a very basic form. This is the initial phase and only the artist can identify the basic form.
During this stage I will often use heavy brown paper layered with mache' paste to wrap the joints that will be supporting the weight of the body. The legs will need to support the weight of the body when I start applying material.
Thinking ahead is always critical. If I apply too much material it may result in misproportion and will have to taken away later in the process. The material is heavier when wet and will make the form sag. Sometimes this adds an interesting twist to what I was thinking but will often compromise the form. It is better to work in lighter layers and apply in multiple phases.
The phases are necessary in order to let the paste dry. I am not posting every drying phase but will update again to show the major milestones.
A commonly asked question is how long does it takes to complete a sculpture and I honestly do not have an answer. I normally have about 10 sculptures in some form of production and sometimes pieces only see sporadic improvement over an extended period of time.
This is the first piece I have done in which I constructed some parts of it seperately and then added to the body. In this case, I constructed wing and tail feathers. By applying papier mache' to heavy paper and letting dry completely I produced very thin but sturdy feathers. An unexpected result of this proces was I found Ican dampen the dried feather and it takes on the personality of hard leather...still fairly tough but not so thin they would be fragile and easily broken. Surprisingly the mache' does not disintegrate if dampened once it has complete dried.
At this point I began the detail work which in most cases is more time consuming than the body consruction.
I also shaped the head, refined the beak and added "spacers" for the eyes and am working on the feathers.
Papier mache' will soak up paint and several layers of base coat are applied. Red tail hawks are a variety of red and brown and have varying markings on their underbelly. I wanted to paint a "generic" coloring so that the workmanship of the bird was more pronounced so left the paint muted and the under feathers solid white.
Occasionally after the painting is complete I have to make repairs or adjustments to the piece. I have found papier mache a very versatile medium but as with all sculptures or works of art must be handled with care. The sculpture is now complete and sealed for durability and is quite solid on his perch. This sculpture was started early 2011 and completed November 2011.
©2012 Wildlife Art by Sharon Webb. All images on this website are copyright protected and may not be reproduced in any manner.