View Full Version : Wall Sculpture
07-26-2005, 10:47 AM
This is a digital "sketch" for a wall sculpture to be done in fiberglass. The core material would be carved polyurethane foam. The red is only tentative and, if done as multiples, the finish could be any color, including metallic colors.
With this, I'm taking a new direction in using the digital medium more as a sketching tool for physical sculpture to be carved or modeled by hand, though, in some cases, a piece could also wind up being carved via CNC, if the cost is low enough. It's more fun to do by hand, though. ;)
07-26-2005, 11:27 PM
Gary - This piece has a "slickness" typical of computer design that probably wouldn’t be present if you drew it by hand, and also might not be present if you do carve one by hand. Just an observation, not an expression of approval or disapproval. Do you have a reaction to the difference, though?
07-27-2005, 12:33 PM
Observation noted, Fritchie. I do plan on acheiving a glossy finish, in fiberglass or some other coating and that is, of course, acheivable. I don't see why not. Though it might differ slightly from my digital sketch, that's okay. The final carving probably will, as well. The point here is not to faithfully reproduce what I created on my computer, but to use the image as an idea, a springboard to the completed object, exactly in the same way that you might use a pencil sketch to capture an idea for a new figurative piece. This method works much better than pencil sketching, in my opinion, as I can view the piece from any angle and print out that view, for reference in the studio.
About the finish, though, I don't think there will be any trouble in acheiving this look. First of all, it's a matter of the density of the foam, and I'd be using probably at least 8 lb. polyurethane, so I can get a very fine surface. With fine sanding, that can surely be acheived. Then it's only a matter of covering that with a durable pigmented hard shell and, where that's concerned, a smooth surface is also no problem. Take a look at the fiberglass sculpture of Don Frost to see what I'm shooting for, as far as the look goes: http://www3.sympatico.ca/g.foy/recentwork2.html
I'm pretty sure he's carving polyurethane foam and then covering it with fiberglass, as there is no way to acheive forms like these without some kind of shaped core material beneath the fiberglass, unless he uses very intricate multi-piece plaster molds to lay the glass in. If that's how he does it, he still has to cast the molds from some carved or modeled original and, for fiberglass sculpture, it makes better sense to carve in foam and use the foam itself as the core material, as opposed to using it as a pattern for a mold. I was curious enough about his technique to email him and ask, but Don hasn't responded yet. I think he may not be willing to divulge his technique, as he doesn't even mention his materials or process on his website. I found out the material is fiberglass when I happened upon this page: http://www.studio737.com/DonFrost/frostbio.htm
07-28-2005, 11:37 PM
These pieces by Don Frost certainly show what can be done by physical means in the service of computer-generated imagery. His “Equinox”, 50 feet tall, is especially impressive, and it reminds me of Gustav Vigeland’s Pillar of Humanity. I’m sure that’s not the correct title, but it is about a 30 foot column of stone, probably granite, and the form consists of writhing figures.
I’ve thought for some time that art tends to be driven by available technology, and both his work and yours illustrate that. Clearly, I’m not the first to express the idea; it pervades history. Wood or antler, shaped by stone, probably was among the first materials of sculpture, and also clay, shaped by hand or tools. Gold, bronze, steel, and polymers followed in the material realm, and concepts for working these materials passed through carving, casting, bulk cutting and assembly with various tools, and now potentially remote manufacture by computer-driven processes. And, I could include fabrics, wire and so on as well.
Each material and method of working lends itself naturally to a body of forms, and these computer-inspired works represent another mile down the road.
07-29-2005, 09:00 AM
Very true. Where Frost's work is concerned, I'm not sure if he's using digital means to arrive at his forms or not, though the uncanny resemblance to some of my digital efforts does suggest that's a possibility. I am more inclined to believe he is hand carving the foam and laying up fiberglass over it, though. The resemblance of our forms may just be a coincidence, the result of both of us having a taste for the same type of forms.
Though I did start out with the idea of using rapid prototyping to arrive at the final form of my digital works, I'm now using the digital medium as a sort of sketch pad for ideas to carve by hand in foam. I'll probably only use the digital images as a loose reference, in fact, not trying to faithfully duplicate them, but just using them as inspiration. I'd also like to try my hand at what I would call "improvisational carving," in which I just start carving foam without any preconceived notions at all and just arrive at whatever forms suggest themselves to me as I carve. Sometimes, the best artworks result from pure experiment, as opposed to careful planning. Then again, in such an expensive medium, the urge to plan is hard to resist. ;)
Speaking of which, here's another in a series of skecthes for wall sculpture.
07-31-2005, 12:34 AM
Well, I got a reply from Don Frost today and he was very helpful and gave me several good tips on working with foam and fiberglass, which, as it turns out, I was right about him using.
A couple of things I learned about his technique is that he does the same thing I've been talking about above, i.e., carving shapes without a preconceived plan, and he makes his own foam from a pourable foam kit, pouring it into a trash bag and allowing it to fill the bag. He then sculpts the resulting foam blob, which sounds a lot more economical than buying sheets or blocks of factory extruded foam.
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