Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Before the Sculpting Begins


Click HERE to read all about what happens in my studio before the sculpting even begins.  

As promised, there is a magical creature in the works to be released in my newsletter Dec 1 (subscribe link in upper right corner). While the actual sculpting began today, I'd like to backtrack for a bit into the pre-sculpting phases to give you a quick peak at what goes on inside my studio (and my head? nah, too complicated).
Sculpting a magical creature can take hours, if not days and weeks. But that is just part of the process. Before we embark on the magical journey combining sculpture and blogging, follow my on this quick detour into the background and behind the scenes.

Dreaming - The PRE-Planning phase

I am a dreamer, so this phase can take days, weeks, even longer, but we'll dream about that another day. Once a dream is vivid enough to work from, the planning begins


The planning phase still takes a decent amount of time. Going into a sculpture blindly can yield interesting results, but is not always ideal.
The planning phase is about deciding on the creature, pose, costume, props, and anything else desired for the final process.

My magical creatures are inspired by a combination of the things I see, hear, read, dream... but I still need a model to sculpt from. If it's something small like my little Sock Monkeys I can go right from my imagination or a quick doodle.
If I am sculpting something more complex, especially of human form, I prefer to use 'models'. These usually come from my favorite online 'Modeling Agency' linked below


The next important step is an inventory check to make sure I have all the proper (or make-shift) tools and material required. The photo below shows an overview of everything to be utilized for the duration of the process. Missing from this photo is my ruler, convection oven, baking rack and baking pan.

A quick overview of the tools featured starting from the left:
- lamp: I need bright light focused on my work to help me see/sculpt tiny details
- baby wipes and rubbing alcohol: to remove staining clay color from my hands and clean my tools and work area
- Laptop: this is my lifeline to the world, quick checks for poses, ideas, costumes, models and more
- aluminum foil: helps build up a strong armature (skeleton) or core for larger projects
- Different Guage wire and wire tools: to build a strong armature (skeleton) for larger sculptures

Right Side

- Clay: Premo Sculpey is my primary and favorite. Super Sculpey, Original Sculpey, Living doll: for flesh tones, Granitex sculpey for the 'fabric' or 'sock' effect in jeans, and of course my Sock Monkeys
- Pasta Machine: to mix, smooth, and roll clay (NEVER use clay tools for food)
- Plexi-glass: My favorite smooth and sturdy work surface
- Variety of sculpting, smoothing, rolling and cutting tools: used for sculpting, smoothing rolling and cutting (what else?)

WHEW!! that looks like a whole bunch of tools, how on earth do I remember to use all of them? In truth, I hardly ever do. Below is a photo of my FOUR favorite non-conventional tools. If all else were taken away, these would be enough to sculpt just about anything.

No, you're not blind, you count three, I count 4

4 = the ink-well of a standard BIC pen. Its small diameter, tube strength and flexibility make it the ideal smoothing and rolling tool

3 = A tapestry needle with a sculpted handle. The needle portion is great for peircing, connecting, rolling smoothing and so much more

2 = X-Acto knife blade with a hand sculpted handle. The small sculpted handle makes it easy to hold and control for tiny figures. Good for cutting, shaping, smoothing, shaving and more


1 = MY HAND!! No Joke!! My hand is the best tool I have. The combined softness and firmness of the hand allows for for holding, shaping, smoothing, blending. Using my fingers to 'sense' as I work allows me to use the right amount of pressure, pull force... Sometimes I wish I had smaller fingers because a man-made tool cannot be as effective as a human hand.

And let's not forget a simple metric ruler. Yes, math is required for sculpting. Proportions are very important when sculpting realistic creatures. They are even more important when the creature is posed so that you cannot measure directly. And so the sketch gets marked, feet turn to inches, ratios are converted, and I'm ready to begin
(If I stop dreaming long enough to start working)


Here is a TINY sneak peak at my first sculpt-n-blog magical creature
The BIG REVEAL takes place on DEC 1 through my newsletter
Subscribe today and get the results right in your inbox
(along with $8 gift certificate to my shop)

Click on the Sneak-Peak photo to subscribe or use the link in the top-right corner of this blog


  1. Wow - how interesting! thanks for showing us your process. Look forwards to seeing the finished product!

  2. I'm often amazed at how many tools I have and how few I USE! But still, when you need a specific thing... I'm often so glad I have that tool!

  3. This is so interesting... I can not believe how tiny your creations are and so detailed.

  4. Great blog. Very interesting. Your hands are your main tool. Take good care of them.

    Following your blog.

  5. It's great to see your process. Most of my best ideas start in my dreams or just before I wake up. Our brains seem to work best when we are not "using" them :-)

  6. Nice post , very interesting, dreaming inspires me too and God only knows what i would do if I lost my hands

  7. uniquecozytreasures - Thanks for sharing.

  8. can't wait to see the finished product! Amazing seeing all the work that is involved with each creation

  9. Thanks for sharing your a bit your process and a glimpse into your studio. I look forward to seeing more.