Thursday, February 28, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 113




I continue to work on the hip sockets of the lower torso. The left hip socket was recently cut and is still quite rough. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Eventually, I am hoping to have them matched in size and shape so the 75mm carving wax balls will fit.






This photo shows a front and side view of the left hip socket, before trimming the rough cut.






The left hip socket has been trimmed, and is no longer quite as rough as it was.






This is a front and side view of the trimmed left hip socket.






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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 112




Part of the process of making a BJD is standing back and looking at what I am doing. That is what I am doing today. I try to do a little bit of work on my doll every day, but every once in a while, I stop and take a moment to just look.

Because I do not have another large BJD project going on at this time, I have saved the oil-clay figure, made with Prima Plastilina Nº 2. If I make a horrible, unrecoverable mistake with any of my carving wax parts, I can simply make another hot-pour moulage mold of the respective oil-clay doll part, and cast another carving wax part, then try again. Hot-pour moulage, is part of the alginate family of mold-making materials, but is reusable. Click on any image to enlarge it.



I am fairly sure that as I gain more experience, I will not need this safety net, and I will be able to start a second project while working on the first one. I really like oil-clay for several reasons, including the fact that it is reusable. Oil-clay is very beginner-friendly. It responds to the touch so nicely. It is soft enough to build-up large forms fairly quickly. It does not harden nor dry out over time. It does need an armature and modeling stand to support it while modeling the figure. An oil-clay figure is too soft to be able to tension it with elastic or springs, or refine it to a high finish. So that is why the oil-clay figure is removed from the modeling stand and cut apart for waste molding.

Carving wax is also reusable. Carving wax may be cast in waste molds. The waste molds can be water-saturated plaster shell molds, as described in Learning To Be A Doll Artist by Martha Armstrong-Hand; or silicone rubber waste molds, as described in Pop Sculpture by Tim Bruckner. Carving wax can be melted and cast in molds, drilled, carved, cut with a saw or chisels, machined, and welded, as well as added to, using hot tools such as a wax pen or metal wax tools and an alcohol lamp. Carving wax is also hard enough to be tensioned with elastic or springs. Being able to test-string a BJD is a very important part of the BJD-making process. Carving wax can also be refined to a very high finish. Personally, I think that working with carving wax is very similar to working with PU resin, except that it is much easier to work with carving wax. I must admit that my experiences working with PU resin are not doll-related, but the PU resin objects that I have cast in silicone rubber molds, are much more difficult to work with than carving wax.




I placed the carving wax doll parts together, just to give myself a better idea of where I am, and what I need to do. Actually, I know what I still need to do, in the back of my head, but it is still handy to have a diagram that I can look at. I have used different colors to indicate what I have done so far, and what I still need to do. The most obvious thing is that the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles still need balls and sockets. I am slowly figuring out the hip sockets, but at least the hip balls have been made.



I am loosely following Martha Armstrong-Hand's method of making a BJD, as described in her book, Learning To Be A Doll Artist. Martha's method of making a ball-jointed doll figure closely resembles the methods of traditional sculpture. It requires me to know, or to learn, many different Art and Craft Skills, including
  1. Planning and Drawing (see link to the HPC below),
  2. designing and making an armature to support modeling clay,
  3. modeling a figure in clay,
  4. making plaster waste molds,
  5. making and casting carving wax,
  6. working with carving wax,
  7. designing ball and socket joints,
  8. refining carving wax to a high finish,
  9. making production molds,
  10. casting the final doll in the production molds,
  11. finishing the cast parts,
  12. curing the cast parts,
  13. finishing the cured parts,
  14. painting the finished parts, 
  15. suedeing the finished parts, 
  16. assembling the cast parts with elastic, or springs (tensioning),
  17. making hair and wigs
  18. designing and making clothing,
  19. designing and making shoes,
  20. designing and making accessories,
  21. posing, then photographing and displaying the finished fully-articulated ball-jointed doll.


The finished ball-jointed doll is a Multi-media Figurative Sculpture that may be used as a mannequin to design 1/3rd scale fashions, as a photographer's model, an artist's model, or displayed as a Sculpture in its own right.




Finally, I would like to point to this Human Proportion Calulator for Artists which I have been playing around with for a couple of days now. Below is a screenshot of what the calcualtor came up with for proportions for my BJD.



A work of art is first cloudily conceived in the mind; during the period of gestation it stands more clearly forward from these swaddling mists, puts on expressive lineaments, and becomes at length that most faultless, but also, alas! that incommunicable product of the human mind, a perfected design. On the approach to execution all is changed. The artist must now step down, don his working clothes, and become the artisan. He now resolutely commits his airy conception, his delicate Ariel, to the touch of matter; he must decide, almost in a breath, the scale, the style, the spirit, and the particularity of execution of his whole design. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) from Essays In The Art of Writing.




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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 111






I am using my jeweler's alcohol lamp to heat the blade in an X-Acto knife to cut through the hip socket, just like I did for the other hip socket. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I finally got it cut off. I am think ing that I really need to find one of those thin blade saws like the Japanese make and use. I think they cut on the pull stroke? Cutting the carving wax like this is accurate, but it takes a long time to do.






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Monday, February 25, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 110




I am doing some filling in the lower torso. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I am using my DIY Wax Pen and some carving wax sticks to fill with.






When I fill in with carving wax, I try to melt the filler and the base at the same time so they fuse together solid.






I scrape off the excess carving wax filler with my paring knife.



The actual work is practice, practice and more practice, adding, subtracting, and smoothing repeatedly. ~ Martha Armstrong-Hand




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Sunday, February 24, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 109




I scribed a new line, about 6mm above the last cut, and started cutting. Then I remembered I had not made a before photo. So here is an early-on work-in-progress photo, showing a shaving as it is in the middle of a cut. I am using the paring knife, one of my very favorite tools. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Here it is, cut up to the line, all around the socket.






This is a turn-around of the socket. It is getting there. I am sneaking up on it, slowly, but surely.






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Saturday, February 23, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 108




When I cut the right torso socket yesterday, I cut it a little bit above the scribed line. Today I used the paring knife to scrape the excess carving wax off, and down to the line. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I used my wax pen to fill in some holes.






I used these sticks of carving wax as filler.






This what it looks like now. Slowly, but surely, progress is being made.



The actual work is practice, practice and more practice: adding, subtracting, and smoothing repeatedly. ~ Martha Armstrong-Hand




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Friday, February 22, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 107




I cut the hip socket for the right leg. I used an old X-Acto knife blade, and heated it with a jeweler's alcohol lamp. I used my wax pen to weld the carving wax where needed. Click on the image to enlarge it.






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Thursday, February 21, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 106




Today I melted some carving wax in my wax pot, poured it into the torso, and swirled it around the inside of the torso socket in order to add some more wax to that area. I could see some light through some thin places, so I knew I had to do it before I did any more work on the socket. In the diagram below, the gray area is the piece I added for the socket, and the brown area is where I want to add carving wax. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I started off by melting some carving wax in the wax pot. I am reusing carving wax shavings, trimmings, and other pieces, such as spares from casting the carving wax doll parts. Carving wax is reusable.






I got an old sock from the studio rag bag, and soaked it in cold water. Wax and water do not mix. I stuffed one arm hole with wet sock, and wrapped the rest of the wet sock around the bottom of the torso. After all, I saw light through some places, so I know that there are places that are thin enough that molten wax may go through them. The wet sock will catch any carving wax that melts through a thin place.






I used an old plastic cocktail glass as a funnel. Have I mentioned that I am a pack rat, and I don't throw anything away? Yeah. I melted the carving wax in the wax pot, then poured it from the wax pot into my little pouring ladle that I made from an old tin can, many, many years ago. I was busy pouring molten wax, so this is an after photo.






Molten wax did splash on the wet sock that I stuffed into the opposite arm hole. The texture of the sock is on the wax. Because the sock was wet, the wax did not stick to it. I was able to peel the wax off the wet sock. The good news is that molten wax did not melt through any of the thin areas inside the torso socket. The torso is currently cooling down.






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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 105






I curled some cereal box cardboard around one of the joint balls and taped it into a cylinder with some masking tape. Then I marked off 1cm marks from a center line. I used an X-Acto knife to transfer the marks to the carving wax leg. The idea is to try and transfer the scribed lines I have made on the right leg to the left leg. I will be measuring up from the bottom of the leg to the line, then making the same mark on the left leg. I hope it will work. Click on any image to enlarge it.






Using the same piece of cereal box cardboard, I transfer the 1cm marks to the left leg, using the X-Acto knife.






The idea is that for every mark on the right leg, there is a distance from the bottom of the leg to the scribed line, as shown by the arrow in the photo below.






Using a pair of dividers, I measure the distance at each 1cm mark, and make a dot. Then I connect the dots to make the line on the left leg. Like I said, I hope this works. I must remember to double-check my work before I cut the carving wax. The rule is: Measure twice, cut once.






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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 104




This is a work-in-progress turn-around photo of the torso, showing how the upper and lower torsos are fitting. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I have trimmed off some of the sharp edges on the lower torso. I am also starting to define where I want to start cutting the hip sockets (see the scribed line on the right leg).






This is a photo of the torso ball and socket joint. I think I may make the socket a wee bit more shallow by trimming some of the ribcage off the sides.






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Monday, February 18, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 103






I snapped off the excess carving wax around the edge of the torso socket on the upper torso. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I used my wax pen to weld the carving wax I added, and to fill in some holes and low areas with carving wax. I trimmed some carving wax with my paring knife.






I finished reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente, yesterday afternoon. I do believe this is going to be one of my all-time favorite books. I loved it.






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Sunday, February 17, 2013

08 Joint Design Nº 102




I am going to work on the lower edge of the upper torso (the socket), so I wrap the ball of the lower torso in a plastic bag, and fasten it with rubber bands. This is to prevent carving wax from sticking to carving wax. Click on any image to enlarge it.






I turn my wax pot on to the setting that softens the wax without melting it. There is a layer of about 1cm of carving wax in the bottom of the wax pot.






When the layer of carving wax in the wax pot softened, I peeled the whole layer out of the wax pot and laid it over the plastic bag covered lower torso. Then I pressed the upper torso firmly over the softened wax.






I tore the excess carving wax off the softened layer.






I removed the upper torso from the lower torso and set it aside to cool and harden.






I made some carving wax filler sticks from the trimmed carving wax. I will use these with my wax pen for adding carving wax to the figure, filling holes, and so forth.






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