Monday, September 10, 2007

The First of Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth and Adventures in Sculpting

Personally, I'm rather fond of sloth -- I like to imagine I look a little like the woman above while I'm being slothful...though the reality is probably not quite so lovely. She's likely to wake up with a crick in her neck, anyway. But I digress.

While pondering themes for a series of garden sculptures for a client, I happened upon the idea of rendering romantic sculptures depicting the 7 deadly sins. Sins are such fun, especially those spelled out in other times -- they seem so relatively innocent now, in comparison to modern evils like genocide and fomenting environmental disasters.

The Seven Deadly Sins are Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, Wrath, and Pride. I'm not sure of the order, but I don't know if it matters. They're all nasty, just the same, and according to medieval scholars, deserved particular punishments in hell.

Above: The Seven Deadly Sins
Below: The punishment for Sloth was eternity in a snake pit.

I am first and foremost a painter -- I love the sensual feel of paints and brushes, the building up of the pigments, the layering of tones and shadows. But along with San Francisco mosaic artist Karen Thompson of Archetile , I've been venturing into the exciting world of sculpture.
3-D art can be accomplished in two basic ways: by taking away (as in chipping away at a marble slab) or by adding (as in clay). Karen and I wanted something that would endure in an outdoor setting, and since I don't really trust myself with sharp objects --and have had zero training in this area-- we decided to steer away from expensive stone carving. Instead, we began with a rebar structure, added wire and styrofoam, and sculpted out of cement and sand. Afterward, Karen and her assistant Mary added the mosaic blanket.

From concept to reality

The fun part of making seven sculptures of beautiful women representing the seven sins is that it would take the viewer a while to realize what the figures represented, if they ascertained it at all. From early concept drawings, we considered certain engineering difficulties and the steep learning curve. Finally, we decided to begin our adventures in sculpture with particular, Sloth as depcited by a beautiful sleeping woman.

This was the original small clay concept, or "maquette", and the wire frame we thought we would need contstructed in rebar to support our slothful type -- in concrete, our girl's a bit hefty.

Above: On the rebar frame, we wrapped styrofoam and steel wool in chicken wire to hold the cement.

Below: Building up the cement/sand mixture. The working time is limited, as the cement goes through a chemical trasformation as it dries. We scratched the surface so that the next layer would adhere.

After her first body dried, we wrapped her in a silk sari to study the folds for the mosaic, to be applied later:

Above: Nearing completion in Karen's mosaic studio! (And she's still asleep, I might add.)

Below: The in-progress and nearly complete Sloth, from the rear. With each layer of cement, our Sloth fills out and becomes more vuluptuous.

A couple more shots:

I'll post pictures of lovely Sloth when she's installed in her new home in a pecan grove in Phoenix, Arizona. We hope to have the beautiful Gluttony join her soon.

1 comment:

wind-chimes said...

I cant wait to see gluttony : ) If your interested in view som realist wall art Susie and I would love to here what you think of our work.