Pan’s progress

Pan now has ears and horns, more or less, and the beginnings of hair. I’ve wrapped the bust over a lump of wax, which makes it easier to hold. At some point I think I’ll have to take it off and put it on a stick, but it’s ok for now.

Plasticine hairdressing — after starting at the top of the head I realised that, duh, it would be better to do the edges first and work inwards, since the higher parts have to sit on top of the lower:

The horns are getting there, but they need work. I made them separate from the head, but had to do the grooves after they were attached to the head so that I wouldn’t end up with the grooves going in some wrong direction. I did the grooves with a seam unpicker, then smoothed most of them over with a rubber-tipped tool to see how it looked. I’m not really satisfied, so I’ll try freezing the piece then working on the horns with a toothpick or something and a paintbrush dipped in methylated spirits. (ETA: metho on the frozen model seems to have little or no effect.)  One horn is made out of hard plasticine, but the other is covered in softer plasticine (I didn’t like its shape and used the soft to fix it, forgetting that the grooves wouldn’t stay in it as well when I smoothed it). The horns are attached to the head on wire, so I can remove them if I have to, but now that they’re in place I’d rather leave them there if poss.


One ear — needs smoothing, and I’d like to get the inner contours better if I can, though they’re probably ok. This pic shows how rough the face is, too. I’m not sure how much to smooth it.

Full view — the model seems to want to lift off the base; maybe the pressure of my fingers is pushing it up? Anyway, I don’t think it matters; I’ll do the shoulders properly when I put it on a stick. I shall pretend that I know what I’m doing.



Luke Jerram’s glass microbiology

Luke Jerram is an artist whose diverse oeuvre includes street pianos and a Sky Orchestra of hot air balloons playing music over cities to sleeping people. In collaboration with glassblowers Kim George, Brian Jones and Norman Veitch, and in consultation with virologists from the University of Bristol, Jerram has created a series of clear glass sculptures of viruses and other microbes. It’s a strikingly beautiful rogues’ gallery. Jerome’s website says, “These transparent glass sculptures were created to contemplate the global impact of each disease and to consider how the artificial colouring of scientific imagery affects our understanding of phenomena. Jerram is exploring the tension between the artworks’ beauty, what they represent and their impact on humanity.”

Jerram is colour-blind, and this inspires his research into perception.  I’m inclined to think that material is as important as colour in influencing how we perceive objects before us — so that turning these plagues into finely worked glass perhaps causes information to be altered in translation as much as occurs with coloured renderings of colourless microbes. But perhaps the point is to make us think about perception in general and its inevitable flaws, distortions and biases, whether we’re using our own senses or instruments, and looking at the real thing or a rendering of it?

Smallpox, an “Untitled Future Mutation” and HIV:




Gary, Fred, Jenny, Pan

I’m back in Australia, enjoying the balmy autumn weather (and a $20 not-half-bad haircut!)

I didn’t have a big enough box to carry the minotaur in — I’d have had to cut him into 3 or 4 parts, and just couldn’t psyche myself up to do it — but I’ve brought the girl and a couple of other little figures, and started two here. I’m going to post WIP shots and progress notes over the next few weeks, and see where they all end up.

1. Gary – poor Gary, I started him a couple of months ago at the same time as I was making the other horse guy (Boris). My idea of “good enough” got fussier while I was taking the classes, so that Gary is no longer as nearly-finished as I thought he was. I’ve cut his arms off to work on the torso. I’m learning that it’s a good idea to plan the order in which the model gets finished — maybe work on limbs seperately and stick them on at the end — whatever you have to do in order to avoid getting your hot hands on finished parts of the model. My teacher recommends cutting finished heads off and keeping them in the fridge, and gluing models to base blocks (you can just slice them off afterwards). Gary is currently sitting in no great comfort on a nail, but he turns around on it, so I think I’ll remove it and go the glue route. He needs bits of work all over, plus a hand and a foot still to do.



2. Fred – I’m not sure that Fred is his name. It might be Bruce or Bill or George or Aloysius or Cedric. He isn’t as far along as Gary, but I’m pretty happy with the basic shape of his torso. The next thing I want to do is his head, so I need to decide what sort of dog he’s going to be.



3. Jenny – she’s just a gleam in the milkman’s eye at present. She’s going to be a bit more complicated than the other two, and I definitely need to think about the smartest way to make her. Right now, I just want to make her head smaller — and, like Fred’s, get it right, which’ll mean some drawings first. So this is Jenny in the first 15 minutes of her life:



4. Pan – he’s been happening fast, in the same green wax as the minotaur and girl, which is easier to work than the brown. I made a female fairy’s head a few days ago, and when I changed an eye that wasn’t working, the head turned into Pan. I still want to do a fairy, but the head might have to be bigger, as it’s hard enough to make a pretty face, never mind on a tiny scale! Pan is going to be a small bust, about 3 inches high. I made his face yesterday, and it’s getting somewhat close to finished, though I still want to poke around at it a bit more — including with a tool I don’t have here, so unless I can get one in Melbourne, final work on the face might have to wait till I’m back in Bangkok. It also needs to be smoothed. Aside from that, there’s still his hair, horns and ears, the angle of his head and neck — I’ll need to look at figures in the same position to see how the neck muscles go — and the chest and upper back, which need to look correct, but I probably won’t finish them as smoothly as I’ll try to finish the face. I think I should do his neck next and settle on how the head’s going to be tilted.

He also needs a support. Instead of trying to saw and file a wooden block down to the right shape to go under his chest/back, I think I’ll make a lump of wax into the right shape and cover it with cling wrap. A lump that size won’t soften in the temperatures here, and it can go in the fridge anyhow.

Starting Pan:


The other side of the face:





The back’s still all lumps!