Assignment 2: Large stacked structures

The brief for this assignment is to create a model 4 times the size of the maquettes created in Project 3, one in plain cardboard boxes painted, the other utilising more textured surfaces.

I have deviated from the brief in project 3, so have no simple matchbox maquettes to work from (apart from the one I have an idea in mind for already), so I will have to continue this deviation into this assignment!

1st Sculpture

The tower of matchboxes was created with its development to this size in mind:

Sketchbook052

I wasn’t sure what I was going to create the solid boxes out of, but I had the idea for the wire framed boxes, so started with those.

The original plan was to create metal boxes for the rest of this tower, but having almost run out of gas for my welder (and money to replace it!), a rethink was required. Following the successful use of walnut varnish on distressed wood for my first project 3 sculpture (actually finished after producing the wire framed boxes for this assignment), I liked the effect and thought I’d try using it in this piece as well. So I produced 2 “boxes” in this way from a solid block of wood to be the two “blue” boxes as the base of my sculpture.

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For the final “green” box, I created a box from plywood and painted it initially in white, then after photographing it and trying out various colours in Photoshop, went for a light grey colour.

Light grey

The next question was how to hold all this lot together!

The base blocks were simple, I drilled holes and attached with dowling rods glued in. The wire boxes would need to be attached with wire staples (or that was the only way I could think of doing it), so I marked the location of these staples and drilled pilot holes before hammering in the staples.

The final sculpture:

‘Tower’
Wood, steel, glass, stone, wire, acrylic paint
64x27x20cm

Tower 1 Tower 2 Tower 3Tower 4 Tower 5 Tower 6

2nd Sculpture

Whichever of my other maquettes I picked, I was going to need to sculpt a hand! I could either do this in the same way as in project 3 (although casting a bronze hand that size could be tricky – especially as I have no facilities to do so yet!), or I could modify the design. My idea was to try modelling with wire again and hope it was more successful than my attempt which led to the plaster hand.

I was also thinking about texture (bearing in mind the brief) and was thinking that I could also use different materials (sheet metal / wire mesh / knitted wire / fabric) wrapped around the wire frame of the hand.

Thinking this through further, I realised that I didn’t have any wire strong enough to construct this hand out of. I therefore decided to work with chicken wire. I created the fingers by wrapping the chicken wire around a drainpipe, wiring it together, removing it and shaping it further by hand.

The final wire hand:

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I was quite happy with this, but it wasn’t quite there. I was considering stopping here and adding that papier-mâché could be used as a development of the piece, before deciding that I should just get on and do it now! So I added torn up newspaper covered in wallpaper paste to the wire frame.

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This worked quite well, but the paper started to yellow in some places, so I decided that I needed to paint it as well.

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White was far too stark a colour, so I added graphite in the same way as I had done with the maquettes – this time with a bag of graphite power (isn’t the internet great!) instead of having to shave a pencil.

The next development idea was that I could char the fingertips of the hand using a blowtorch to work into the pieces title. I thought the whole thing might go up in flames though, so decided to use charcoal on the fingertips instead. Unfortunately this didn’t show up much in comparison to the graphite covering.

The matchbox was created out of a cardboard box and I decided to paint this with acrylic paint to look like the original matchbox:

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I didn’t have anything the right size for the match, so I glued 64 matches together (well I do have enough to last me more than a lifetime now!), then filled them with wood filler, sanded and painted them:

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The final stage was to assemble these. I didn’t make a base for this sculpture, although a circular one like the displaying board I made that these are pictured on would work well as a base:

‘Pyromaniac no.2’
Wire, newspaper, matches, cardboard, sandpaper, acrylic paint, graphite, charcoal
60x40x25cm

Pyro2 1Pyro2 2Pyro2 3Pyro2 4Pyro2 5Pyro2 6

Appraisal of outcomes

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Technical skills:
1st sculpture

  • The welding on the open boxes is not great and I have got some distortion in the shape which causes the sculpture to lean somewhat. This is also compounded by the joining method of using staples, which has some slack in it which also adds to the lean.
  • The wires down to the glass and stone pieces are loose on the wire across the top of the boxes. These could be squeezed into place, but that would stop some of their movement, so it would have been better to have a loop in this wire in the centre to attach these wires to.

2nd sculpture

  • The papier-mâché hand could have done with an additional layer of chicken wire for strength and an additional layer of paper also.
  • I should have used gesso paint rather than the acrylic paint I used as this would have provided a better tooth for the graphite.
  • I should perhaps have risked burning the fingertips as using charcoal didn’t show up over the top of the graphite.

Visual awareness:
1st sculpture

  • The painted plywood box doesn’t fit in very well with the other elements in this sculpture. The original plan of a metal box may have worked better, or perhaps a different colour paint may have improved it?

2nd sculpture

  • Painting the cardboard matchbox to look like the original matchbox was a mistake I think – it would have looked better colouring this in graphite like the original maquette.

Materials:

  • The materials used were interesting choices to experiment with, but didn’t all work well as detailed in some of the points above.

Composition:

  • The composition worked as planned as these were scaled up versions of the project 3 sculptures. The lean which was introduced to the tower sculpture spoils the composition of this sculpture from certain angles.

Quality of Outcome

The first sculpture is moderately successful, it is close to how I had pictured it, but I don’t think it ‘works’ quite as well as I was expecting it to. The lean at certain angles is part of the problem, as is the grey box which doesn’t fit with the other elements as well as it could do.

The second sculpture developed from how I imagined it as it was produced. It is OK, but not a great work of art! The hand works quite well, but the matchbox is definitely not as good as it could have been. In preparing this blog post I have also realised that this sculpture no longer fits the title “Large Stacked Structures”, but hopefully that is not a problem!

I have photographed and filmed these pieces much more professionally than for the previous stage.

Demonstration of Creativity

I think I have develop my ideas well, ignored material constraints and experiment with materials/etc., and have continued to adapt the work as I have worked through producing it. Not all of this has worked successfully, but it is a learning process!

Context

My research work into Lorenzo Quinn and Alexander Calder show in these pieces as described in the context section for Project 3.

The biggest area of improvement I am aware of is on my sketchbook – steps have been put in place to work on this.

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