The Green Man

Model Making Week 1 – The Green Man

This week I started my Introduction to Model Making course at Arts University Bournemouth, which was a birthday present from my wife and various family members.

Aside from the awkwardness of getting to know a room full of strangers, it was great fun and a great chance to force me to be creative.

Week One’s task was to sculpt a gargoyle from clay, and create a plaster mould of it. I opted to go for a Green Man rather than a proper gargoyle. Most of the others did proper grotesques, and there was even a Donald Trump in among them.

I did a sculpture course with my Dad last year where we sculpted a head from life, so I felt relatively comfortable using the clay. Dad’s head had been lumpen and monstrous and I kind of wanted to capture that primordial style with this fellow, but I just couldn’t really get it, so I thought it would help to give it more leafy detail.

Making the mould was fun, first drizzling thin plaster to fill the details and then covering with a plaster-soaked piece of scrim and then successive layers of thickening plaster. The whole process throughout was so hands-on and physical, but also cathartic and almost trance-inducing.

It didn’t take long to dry, and then we scraped the clay out, revealing the negative image of the sculpture. It felt sad somehow to destroy that grumpy Green Man face, but perhaps this is a natural thing for him – he’ll be reborn soon enough in another form!

I had to scrub the clay off with a toothbrush, and by the end of the session hadn’t quite finished the process. You can really see the little lines of detail in the plaster, like spines of fossil bones. In fact the clearing out felt like archaeology, and somehow also had a similar excitement to seeing a photograph appear in a developing tray.

I’m not sure if we cast this next week or the week after, but I guess I’ll find out.

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