Over the last few days I’ve divided my time into frantically searching for ideas and trying to get my mind off my lack of ideas (hoping that would spark some ideas… geez). The veil has finally lifted *knock on wood* and I’m fairly certain I’m on to something now. It’s an amalgamation of both old and new ideas embodied as another chess piece.
Before I began this website, I tried to make a chess set, but it came out too small and way too… crappy. I wanted to finish the full chess set so badly I didn’t pay enough attention to the individual pieces – their designs and execution were half-assed and rushed. Below, you can see the rough design and widdle-bitty bishop I made before.
To be fair, there were a couple good ideas in this tragedy. The first was the crest on the dragon’s head that was meant to look like a pope’s mitre; that’s the pope’s fancy hat. The second idea was to make it’s wings wrap around it’s body to look like a cape or vestments AKA the pope’s purty dress.
This piece is barely an inch tall.
Over the weekend, I reworked this idea and made it 4x bigger to match the size of the other chess pieces I’ve sculpted recently. You may even recall that I’m using a poker chip for the base of all the chess pieces to keep the sizes relatively uniform. I definitely wanted to take another stab at sculpting wings folded around the body but I just haven’t committed to the crest, thus leaving the option open as to which chess piece it will ultimately be.
When I finished sculpting this new piece’s face, I posted an pictue of it on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ asking if it looks like a bishop, knight, or king (they are the three pieces I have left to make). After I tallied up all the votes today it seemed there was a 3-way tie… no kidding! I painstakingly re-counted all the votes just to double check, and sure enough:
- A buddy, Steve, voted bishop because of the shape and poise.
- My cousin, Jeanell, felt the simian-esque nature of it befits a king, King Kong.
- And my uncle, Patrick, said “Knight, he looks like he wouldn’t let you past the drawbridge.”
1, 2, 3… three way tie.
Right off the bat I’m thinking I’ll go with my uncle’s vote for the knight. He provided alot of insight when he explained his position further by adding, “Nice work Dana.”
I was like, “That’s deep… he’s so right.” But in all fairness, I’m just not sure. The original piece was meant to be the bishop. Then again, the way the wings wrap around is very similar to my tattoo; something that personal may deserves to be King. Besides it’s semi-special nature, I’ve been working on this piece for over 11 hours now. I’m trying to sculpt the folds of the wings just right; it needs to flow, but with a sense of natural randomness. I haven’t ever sculpted wings like this so I’m kinda “winging it”. The point is I don’t know which piece it should be. Think about it and feel free to share your 2 cents; donations are always welcome.
In the sketch above, the dragon on the far right is my new plan.
As with most sculptures I’ve made, I try to determine just how much foil I can get away with using. It cuts down on the amount of clay I use, but on occasion I’ve sculpt right down to the foil! In these circumstances I’ll try to push the foil deeper with a nail or if that doesn’t work, I’ll cut out a chunk of the foil with a widdle-bitty saw or X-Acto knife.
If you have the means, feel free to skimp on the foil. Your sculpture will need to be bake in the oven longer depending on how much thicker the clay is, but how much you bulk out the armature with foil is entirely up to you. I’m not rolling in dough so I’m not rolling in clay and I’d like to save up for some more mold making supplies rather than clay right now (you may have noticed I haven’t been making many new molds lately).
As I sculpted the body I had to keep reminding myself that it’d be covered by the wings. No point in spending time detailing parts that won’t even be seen, right?
This dragon’s wings are based on a bat’s wings. At this point, I’m not entirely sure how I’ll sculpt the fold and billows in the dactylopatagium (that’s the skin of the bat’s wings and is pronounced dack-till-owe-pa-ta-jEE-umm), so I bide my time working on the “fingers”.
Once I’ve rolled the clay out into thin bars, I press them on where the fingers will wrap around the dragon’s body.
After I shape the bars into fingers, I then add small balls of clay where I want the knuckles to go. I blend the edges of these separate pieces together using a pointy tool followed by smoothing the surface with a fine brush dipped in Turpenoid.
The following pictures show how the same process is followed on the opposite side.
There comes a point when I’m sculpting a piece when it’s time to set it down to continue sculpting. The pressure from you fingers will slowly mash away the detail in the sculpture, so after a certain amount of detail is reached you’ll need to secure the sculpture down.
I’ve secured the dragon now to the poker chip base. I wrapped the poker chip in foil, mashed a thin layer of clay onto one side of the chip, and with a touch of Vaseline (it works like a glue on soft polymer clay) stuck the dragon on. For reassured “stickability” I added the feet and tail.
With the dragon secured, I can add the rest of the detail and the much awaited folds of the dactylopatagium.
I have no previous experience sculpting folded up bat wings so there’s a lot of trial and error in the following images.
I rolled out thin bars of the pink soft Super Sculpey and blended them in randomly between the fingers. The initial mistake I made in doing this was in using short thin bars. It made the dactylopatagium look wrinkly instead of folded together. The breakthrough came once I started rolling out bars of clay that were as long as the wing. I was afraid it would look too uniform, but the “natural variations” came with rolling out the bars in different thicknesses instead of different lengths… does that make sense?
In the above images, I readjusted the folds on the first wing, in an effort to make them look less wrinkly.
The following images show the second wing being completed. This time the folds were done entirely using longer bars of clay. If you compare the way it looks to the first wing you may be able to see what I tried to describe about how the “short” bars of clay looked more wrinkled.
As it stand now, I haven’t baked it at all yet and look forward to showing you how it finishes out. I have to complete the feet and I also need to add more detail to the tail and neck.
Let me know what you think. Have any tips or advise for sculpting folds in a dactylopatagium? Do you think this this fella looks like a king, knight or bishop? I look forward to hearing from you.