Sculpture Class

I’m finally getting around to finishing out this blog. This one is about my sculpture class at SACI. We started out making a relief sculpture out of clay, then casting it in plaster. Clay is good to work with because it’s addictive and subtractive, and I can make it do almost whatever I want.  I chose to do a high relief rather than a low relief. I chose a sketch of a woman bathing out of the pile of pictures and made a square slab of clay. Then I began adding clay in the general shape until I got this:  

Then we mixed plaster with some pink color for the first layer. This is so we can see what we’re chiseling before we damage our piece.

Then we added another layer of thicker plaster and let it dry.


Once dry, I took out all the clay and broke it into pieces for recycling. I was left with a nice mold. I cleaned it with soapy water so that no clay was left.

We then filled the mold with plaster, let it dry, and chiseled away the mold. This is where the pink layer came in handy- when I got to that layer I knew to be extra careful and ease the chisel right under it. 


It came out beautifully! I fixed a couple of little things and then coated it with floor wax as a patina. All done!

We then were given a bar of soap to carve to practice before carving marble because it is only subtractive- you can only take away the soap, not add to it. I carved a ballet slipper in my apartment with a kitchen knife.  

We then got to pick out a slab of marble to carve. I chose a long, white block of Italian marble. First, I used a pointed chisel to break away large pieces. Then a claw chisel to start defining the shape. Then a flat chisel to smooth it out and add detail. At first, I wanted to do a ballerina, but the ankles would have been too weak to support the weight of the body. I figured it would be much easier to do a woman wearing a long dress. 

I mostly chiseled by hand, but I used a power tool to smooth it out during one class. 


I got the basic shape of the body, then started on the head with a small flat chisel. When I was working on the neck, I broke the head off. Oops. 

I shaped the head separately, which was easier than it was when attached. Then, my teacher, Dario, helped me drill holes in the head and shoulders and put in a screw shaft. We then glued the head back on.


I used a small file to do the details like fingers. I then filed and sanded the whole thing to make it smooth. To cover the seam on the neck, I decided to use gold foil to make a scarf. I bought some fake gold leaf at an art store for two euros, and Dario showed me how to apply it using gel medium. I also decided to make the bottom of the dress gold too to make it more interesting, following a nice vein that showed up during sanding.


The gold added a lot to it, I think! For the final show, Dario mounted it into a piece of marble temporarily with some plaster, which I later removed to take it home. It was a lot of work and a lot different than my original plan, but I’m pretty happy with the results. I named it “Idol of Vanity” because it is not very feminine looking, but instead very stoic and stiff and mysterious, like something the ancients might have worshiped. The idols of today’s culture look a lot different than that, and are usually things like pride or vanity. This is a way to materialize our idols into something we can see, which may hopefully prompt us to destroy them in our lives. Anything that we put before God is an idol.



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