Saturday, April 30, 2011

Showing a Work-In-Progress BJD




Today I showed my WIP BJD to visitors. It is very difficult to explain the process. First I showed them the brown wax sculpture WIP.



The large white sphere is a cue ball I found at the Thrift store for $1.00. !!!




Then I showed them the Carving Wax Test Doll.



The brown wax WIP doll is in parts, and Carving Wax Test Doll has not been modeled. I think it was very confusing for them to understand. Now I have a much better understanding why artists do not like to show their unfinished works-in-progress.




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Friday, April 29, 2011

Giles Precision Waxer






I know I have been harping on Tim Bruckner's book, Pop Sculpture a lot recently, but it is because he shares a method very similar to Martha Armstrong-Hand's method, for making the original sculpt in oil-clay, then molding it and casting wax to make the refined parts for the final molds. Both Tim and Martha use a wax pen to refine the wax patterns. Since Pop Sculpture is a recently published book, I'm going to point out that Tim uses a Giles Precision Waxer made by Giles Studio. The cool thing is, Giles Studio is currently offering a 30% discount on their wax pens to fans of Pop Sculpture, until 11 November 2011.

I currently use a 25W soldering iron as a makeshift wax pen, and while it works, and is cheap, it has the drawback of the heat not being adjustable, so it is always on High when I work with it. I must keep it wiped clean so it doesn't smoke when I use it. So I am seriously considering buying one of the Giles Precision Waxer Standard units while it is on sale.

There is more information about this offer over at the Pop Sculpture blog, so take a look!

There do not seem to be any prices published at the Giles Studio web pages, so it is necessary to send an email to them to order a waxer. The key to getting the discount is to mention the ultra-secret code word that is in the above post at the Pop Sculpture blog. No, you do not need a de-coder ring to use the code word.




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Thursday, April 28, 2011

More About Methods




On the 21st, I received the book Pop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner, et al. I have been busy doing a lot of reading in that book. I cannot help but compare the stages of creating pop sculpture followed by Tim Bruckner, to Martha's Method of making a ball-jointed doll, and also to Ryo Yoshida's excellent guide to making a BJD.

First of all, this is Tim Bruckner's method of making pop sculpture. Pop sculpture is not a ball-jointed doll, but may be articulated, though not tensioned with elastic or springs.

The Stages of Creating Pop Sculpture (page 15)

Here is how the sculpting process usually flows once you have
your design and art references. We've noted the points at which
you need client (Art Director) approval.

1. Receive control art, review manufacturing methods
2. Build an armature and create a rough clay sculpture of the figure - AD Approval Needed
3. Determine where to cut the sculpture into parts for reproduction and cut into those parts
4. Create RTV waste molds of the clay parts
5. Cast the parts in wax
6. Refine and finsh master wax - AD Approval Needed
7. Create new RTV molds from the wax parts
8. Cast the parts in resin
9. Refine and finish the resin parts
10. Prime and paint all parts
11. Assemble painted parts into final figure - AD Approval Needed
12. Photograph finished sculpture


Steps 1 to 6 are very similar to Martha Armstrong-Hand's method of making a BJD, except that the RTV waste molds in step 4 are plaster rough shell molds in Martha's method. Once the wax parts have been refined, Martha makes porcelain slip casting molds, then casts porcelain into those molds (steps 7 and 8). The greenware porcelain doll parts are then refined, bisque fired, and china painted (steps 9 and 10). Then she assembles the porcelain BJD with spring tensioning (step 11). Martha then proceeds to make wigs, clothing, shoes and accessories for her BJD, and finally displays and or photographs the finished doll (step 12).

After carefully drawing concept and working drawings of the doll, Ryo Yoshida makes his OOAK BJD over a styrofoam core which is covered with a skin of air-dry clay, and allowed to dry. He further models and refines the air-dry clay. He does not make molds. After removing the core, he has hollow doll parts which he can test string with elastic. After refining the doll parts, he assembles the doll, then paints it, makes a wig, stockings, and shoes. Finally, he photographs his finished BJD.

These three methods are each very good in their own way. Ryo Yoshida's method can be used to design and model a BJD all the way up to finishing master doll parts for mold making, if that is desired. The air-dry clay would have to be sealed before molding, but his tutorial will certainly get you up to that point, successfully. If you do not have a copy of Yoshida Style, then the free, online Aimi-Doll tutorial is very close to the Yoshida method.

Martha's method is outlined in her book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist, which is currently out-of-print, and unavailable. However, the same information that is in her book can be followed at the Martha Armstrong-Hand's Method thread at the Woodland Earth Studio forum. The genius of Martha's book is that it collects all the information about making a porcelain BJD in one place. The thread at WES attempts to do the same thing.

Finally, Pop Sculpture gives almost all the information needed to cast a BJD in resin, from silicone rubber mold making, to using a pressure pot, to pouring resin and pressurizing the resin to obtain bubble-free castings. It does not cover making ball-and-socket joints, per se, but that information can be found in Therese "twigling" Olsen's book, Zen & The Art of Articulating Dolls By Using Balljoints. A good tutorial overview of making a hollow resin casting can be found here.




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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wax Working Metal Tool Nº 2




I finished the first wax working metal tool. I made it by grinding, filing, and sanding a flat banding strap that I cut into a six inch piece. It will be used with an alcohol lamp for working with carving wax. I tried to get the working tips as smooth as possible, as recommended by the author of Pop Sculpture.






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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More About Carving Wax Test Doll

Who or what is Carving Wax Test Doll?
I probably haven't explained everything as well as I could?



Aalish is my first 60cm ball-jointed doll.
I am figuring her out as I go along.
I do not have any elastic-tensioned BJDs to refer to.
So I made my own test doll, so I can figure out the joints.

This is very similar to how Martha Armstrong-Hand figured out her first BJD.
Martha Armstrong-Hand wrote a book about making porcelain BJDs, titled Learning To Be A Doll Artist. It was first published by Scott Publications in 1999, but is currently out-of-print, and is pretty much unavailable.
http://atelierpoupee.blogspot.com/2010/12/learning-to-be-doll-artist.html

Since I found out about LTBADA, I have searched and searched for more information about Martha's Method of making BJDs. I have managed to pick up some bits and pieces, here and there, on the Internet.

When Martha first decided to make fully articulated ball-and-socket jointed dolls, she made herself a test doll of carving wax by making a mold over a seven-inch Rosebud Baby that she had designed for Mattel, and cast carving wax into that mold. Then she gradually worked out the joints by trial and error with wooden balls and simple hinges. After that, she translated what she had found out experimenting with her test doll, into the joints for her ball-jointed dolls.

Carving Wax is a design material that Martha discovered when she was working as a professional sculptor in industry in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She brought the carving wax from industry into her doll making studio. In my opinion, this carving wax is one of the most amazing things that Martha gave us. She made her own carving wax recipe so she could control its consistency and color. She measured it by weight:

9 parts paraffin
9 parts talc
1 part beeswax
1 part carnauba wax

She melted the waxes in a double boiler or crockpot. She used a thermometer to make sure it didn't get too hot (under 180 deg.). Then she added the talc and mixed everything thoroughly. My recipe for carving wax is a modified version of a modified version of Martha's recipe.

Here is the carving wax recipe that I modified:

4.5 parts microcrystalline wax
4.5 parts paraffin wax
9 parts talc
1 part beeswax
1 part carnauba wax

My own carving wax recipe looks like this:

1 part microcrystalline wax (14oz.)
1 part paraffin wax (14oz.)
2 parts talc (28oz.)

I used what I had on hand, without having to order any carnauba wax or beeswax. I used Baby Powder Talc which I found at the Dollar Store in 14oz bottles. They had two kinds of baby powder, one that listed Talc and Fragrance as the ingredients, and the other which listed Cornstarch and Fragrance as the ingredients. I bought the one with Talc as the main ingredient.

Needless to say, my carving wax smells a lot like a freshly dusted baby's bum. :)

How did Martha use the carving wax to make a BJD?
First, she designed her doll with concept drawings, then made full-size working drawings.
She used the working drawings (front view and side view) to make a wire armature.
The armature was attached to a modeling stand.
She modeled her original doll sculpt in oil-clay over the wire armature.
Then she removed the oil-clay sculpt from the modeling stand.
This was easy to do because she designed her modeling stand with pipe fittings.
So all she had to do was unscrew the pipe fittings from the modeling stand. Brilliant!
Next, she cut the original sculpt into parts for plaster molding.
Note that because the oil-clay sculpt was modeled over a wire armature, that the wire
armature was cut in the process.
Her method requires a new wire armature for each new doll.
She cuts the original oil-clay sculpt at the head, the shoulders, and the hips.
She then had six doll parts to mold in plaster rough shell molds. (Head, Torso, 2 Arms, 2 Legs)

Wax and water do not mix. So if she soaks the plaster rough shell molds in water until they are fully saturated with water, she can pour melted carving wax into the molds and the carving wax will not stick to the plaster molds. Furthermore, because the carving wax in the molds starts to thicken up along the walls of the mold, when the carving wax is thick enough, she can pour the excess carving wax back into her wax pot, and have hollow castings!

The carving wax is tough enough to withstand elastic tensioning!
And, the parts are hollow which allows the elastic to go through the limbs and the torso, and the head. This allows the carving wax BJD to be test strung before the final molds are made. It is much easier to modify the carving wax doll parts than to discover that your joint design does not work after the final molds have been made.

Next, she cuts the carving wax doll parts at the joints. She had made other molds of balls, and she cast carving wax balls of various sizes into those molds. Then she used an electric wax pen and sculpting tools to design the joints and attach the balls to the limbs, and sculpt sockets and so forth.

Another property of carving wax is that it can be finished glass-smooth! After Martha designed the joints in carving wax, and test strung the doll parts, she would refine the doll parts so they could be used as master patterns for making porcelain slip casting molds. From what I have gathered, she was a perfectionist, and all her doll parts were refined to the highest level. Martha was a professional sculptor and doll maker.

If you have read this far, then you should now have a much better idea of what Carving Wax Test Doll is to me, in my process of doll making. I am loosely following Martha's Method, even to the extent of making a test doll for myself, so I can figure out jointing for my 60cm BJD, named Aalish.

Carving Wax Test Doll will never be finished for molding, but she will probably be finished as a test doll that is strung with elastic, and she will be able to stand and pose and so forth.

I will use what I find working with Carving Wax Test Doll, and apply that to my current work-in-progress Aalish sculpt, which is being modeled in brown microcrystalline wax (Victory Brown). I am trying to document my daily progress (or lack of progress) here, on my weblog. Keeping a journal or notebook of your doll's progress is also a part of Martha's Method. I find that doing the journal of this first 60cm BJD is a very good way to keep motivated, and to remember who, what, how, and why I am making this 60cm doll in the first place.




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Monday, April 25, 2011

Wax Working Metal Tools Nº 1




Recently, I found some flat steel banding that was around some red clay bricks. I cut it up into some six inch lengths, thinking that it might be useful for making some wax working tools that could be heated with my alcohol burner. This photo shows the banding cut up, and I have started to shape one with a bench grinder. After grinding it to shape, I knock off the burrs with a file, then sand it smooth. The sculptors/authors in the book Pop Sculpture use an alcohol lamp to heat metal wax working tools to work on their sculpts, as well as using the electric wax pen.






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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Emily




This is Emily. She is posing beside a bottle of a favorite plonk from South Eastern Australia. I found her at the Thrift store for $1.00. She is an American Girl Mini Doll, or, a doll for a doll. She is 6.5 inches tall.






Here she is, posing with Carving Wax Test Doll.



Dolls are fun!




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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Adding Carving Wax




I've been busy reading my new book, Pop Sculpture and the secrets of using a wax pen to add to carving wax have been revealed !!! The secret is just as I thought it was, and have been doing myself..... drip, drip, drip the wax, then scrape it to the form wanted. Evidently, this is not a technique that is suited to everyone. It is the technique that Martha Armstrong-Hand used to make her carving wax patterns for her BJDs, and it is the technique used by Tim Bruckner, the sculptor who wrote Pop Sculpture, . I use a 25W soldering iron as a wax pen.




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Friday, April 22, 2011

Sculpting Hands Video




Today I watched a sculpting video called Sculpting Hands With Master Artist Jack Johnston. This is another VHS tape, made about 1994. I must admit that I was not very impressed with the hand that he made during his demonstration on the video. I did enjoy the beginning of the video when he explained how to make an armature for a hand. He made the armature from two gauges of copper wire. Five pieces of the heavy gauge wire were wrapped together with the smaller gauge wire. Then the four fingers and the thumb wires were spread apart. Next he wove the thin wire in and out of the four finger wires, about where the fingers would be attached to the palm. After that, he took floral tape, and wrapped each of the finger wires, then proceeded to wrap the floral tape around the palm and the thumb, and finally the wrist. When the fingers were wrapped, he bent the wires to get the gesture of the hand he wanted to sculpt. Then he covered the wires of the fingers with coils of Cernit, and the palm with a flattened ball of Cernit, and the back of the hand with a flattened ball of Cernit. After blending in all the Cernit, he proceeded to sculpt the hands.

I do not think that hands, or any other part of the human anatomy should be sculpted to a formula. It is much better, in my opinion, to study anatomy, and study the figure to sculpt it. So I will not even bother to describe his formula for sculpting hands.

This video was loaned to me by a friend. I cannot recommend it. This review is more of a warning of a video to avoid.




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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pop Sculpture




This book arrived in the mail today:



Pop Sculpture: how to create action figures and collectible statues.
Tim Bruckner, Zach Oat and Rubén Procopio.
NY: Watson-Guptill Publications.
ISBN: 978-0-82309522-3

While this book is not about making Ball-Jointed Dolls specifically, it does have a lot of information about making silicone rubber molds, and casting in resin. It talks about pressure pots and air compressors. There is even information about converting a paint pot into a pressure pot to use for casting resin. While the book does cover articulation, its emphasis is more towards action figures than elastic tensioned ball-joints.

Nevertheless, since neither Yoshida Style Ball Jointed Doll Making Guide, nor Learning to be a Doll Artist have any information about silicone rubber mold making or casting in resin, then this book fills the gap, and supplies much needed information to the aspiring BJD maker who is interested in making resin BJDs.

The book also covers design, concept drawings, modeling with clay over an armature, working with wax, making molds, casting in resin, working with resin, painting resin, and so many other things that may be of interest to an aspiring BJD maker.

BJDs have their roots in Garage Kits, and this book is a Garage Kit Bible!
Volks: The first 10 Years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garage_kit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball-jointed_doll
I am very happy and excited to get this book!

The authors have a blog for this book, where they put updates, and additional information that they did not have room to put in the book: http://popsculpturebook.blogspot.com/




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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sculpting Video




Today I watched a video about sculpting the head of a child. The Art of Sculpting with Philippe Faraut Volume 1: Children. I enjoyed the video very much, even in VHS format. It is 89 minutes in length. A friend of mine loaned it to me.

Philippe shares his step-by-step method of construction, as well as a guide to catch and correct common mistakes, while demonstrating in his favorite medium; wet clay.

In his sculpting demonstration, he sculpts this portrait of his daughter:



He starts with a ball of paper taped up and placed on a wooden dowel stuck in a modeling board. Using his hands, and some common sculpting tools, he uses water clay to make the portrait.

Here is the link to his web site: http://philippefaraut.com/




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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Carving Wax Hand Nº 1




I cut a slot in the wrist ball joint with a fine tooth hacksaw blade.






I drilled a hole in the wrist ball and inserted a pin. I attached an S-hook to the pin, and the elastic to the S-hook.






This is another view of the new carving wax hand.



Next, I will make a moulage mold of the right hand, and cast it in carving wax.




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Monday, April 18, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 5




I unwrapped the first half of the moulage mold of the left hand and removed the cardboard and clay build-up.






It doesn't look like I have enough space to pour the second half of the mold.






So I stapled a piece of cardboard over the end of the mold, and removed the cardboard from the side of the mold in order to pour the second half, open-faced.






That worked! After pouring the moulage, I stapled another piece of cardboard to the side of the mold, then melted and poured the carving wax.






This is the first casting. You can see the air vents I made with an X-Acto knife, from the finger tips. Those air vents connect to an air vent that goes to the top of the mold.






This is the casting, flipped over.






Here is the casting, taken out of the mold.






This is the second casting. It is a little easier to see the air vents I carved in the moulage from the fingertips, to the air vent that goes to the top of the mold. I got two castings of the left hand from this moulage mold.






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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 4

I ran out of time today, and only got one half of the moulage mold poured for the hand. I have covered the mold with a plastic bag and a rubber band. I will see if this half will last overnight, so I can finish pouring the other half tomorrow, and casting a couple of carving wax hands.






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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 3.5




Oops! I forgot to seal the cardboard with orange shellac. It is easy to take the wooden mother mold apart and seal the cardboard. When the shellac dries, I will melt and pour some moulage.







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Friday, April 15, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 3

I'm going to try this first. I only had a chance to rough in the clay build-up today. Tomorrow, I will try to find some free time to melt the moulage, and pour it.






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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 2



I am designing my mold on paper first. The hand will rest on one side of the cardboard build-up. I will make an oil-clay build-up along the parting line of the hand. I will also make one half of the spare in oil-clay. I believe I have enough space in the mother mold to do this.






For a hand, the parting line should be in the middle of each finger, all along the length of each finger. There should be draft. The parting line will also be in the middle of the sides of the palm, and the wrist ball joint. I will also put in some registration keys. I will not need any parting agent because moulage does not stick to anything, including itself.



This looks good in theory. I must try it to be sure.




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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moulage Hand Mold Nº 1




Now I'm starting to think about molding the hands in a moulage mold. As can be seen from the photo below, there is only room in the wooden mother mold for just one hand. That is okay because I'm going to try and make a two-piece moulage mold for the hands.



So the next thing to do is to coat the cardboard build-up with some orange shellac to seal it. Then I'll start working on a clay build-up for the palm of the hand and between the fingers. Another thing I'm thinking about is whether or not to try an indirect pour, or a straight pour directly into the ball joint of the wrist. I'm not sure if I have enough room to put a sprue along one side of the mold? This requires some more thinking.




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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carving Wax Lower Arms




Carving Wax Test Doll has some lower arms.






The same 1.5 mm round elastic cord is being used. Showing the elbow joints.






I got three sets of lower arms from the moulage mold.



When I melt the carving wax from a cold start, it gets pretty hot.
So after all the chunks of carving wax have melted, I use some cold
chunks of carving wax to stir the mixture. This does two things;
one, it mixes the talc and the waxes together again, because the
talc has a tendency to settle to the bottom of the wax pot; two, it
also cools the mixture, because the cool chunk of carving wax that
I am using to stir the mixture with, gets smaller.




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Monday, April 11, 2011

Wood Mother Mold For Moulage Nº 4




After sealing the inside of the mother mold with orange shellac, and letting it dry completely, I clamped the mold halves together and prepared to pour the moulage. Since the lower arms are for Carving Wax Test Doll, I used one of the lower arms to make the spare for the other lower arm. I twisted a drill bit through it, and inserted a dowel to be used as a stop, so I would not push the wax arm to the very bottom of the moulage mold. Instead of making a build-up, I decided to just insert the pattern into the moulage, trying to keep it centered in the mold.






I used a double boiler to melt the moulage. When it was ready, I poured it into the wooden mother mold, stopping about 1/4 inch (6 mm) from the top of the mold. Then I inserted the wax lower arm at an angle, into the moulage, twisting it as I inserted it, so moulage would fill the concave wrist socket at the bottom of the lower arm. Then I straightened the arm, and pushed it slowly into the moulage until the wood dowel hit the top of the mold. I centered the lower arm in the mold as best as I could.






This is a close-up of the brown wax lower arm, inserted into the moulage mold. Note that I had placed a plastic bag under the mother mold to catch any overflow of the moulage. Nothing overflowed, but there was just a wee bit mor moulage than what was needed. No problem, because when the moulage sets up, I can cut the excess off.






I went to eat some supper while the moulage was setting up. I always find something else to do when a mold is setting up, otherwise I hover and poke at it too much. It sets up better when I am far away from the mold. Once it set up, I removed the clamps, and used my paring knife to open the halves of the mother mold.






Then I used the paring knife to cut part way through the moulage. Then I broke the mold the rest of the way to expose the brown wax pattern of the lower arm inside.






After removing the brown wax pattern, I have a two-piece moulage rough shell mold for casting carving wax lower arms for Carving Wax Test Doll.






Then I put the two halves of the mold together, and prepare the mold for casting.



Right now, the carving wax is melting in the wax pot. The moulage mold is clamped together. I will try to pour at least two sets of lower arms from this mold (four castings, total).




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