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Old 06-02-2005, 09:49 PM
pontes pontes is offline
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Making armatures and getting my stuff seems the hardes thing.

Everytime i try to make something it ends up breaking, falling off the armature etc..

I read in a book about rodins way of sculpting. He would build a cone of clay, then let it harden for about a day or two. Has anyone done this? This sounds cool. Because the only way i can get my stuff permanent is by firing, the other ways are too expensive and i have no clue how to do them.

How well would it work for a life size bust that carries substantial weight?

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Old 07-28-2005, 02:18 PM
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oddist oddist is offline
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Re: armatures?

Searching for armatures I came across a number of sites related to "stop-motion" animation figure armatures.

The following two links are examples. The first is for a store bought model the second is a do-it-yourself type.

I"m thinking this type of armature might have application for other than stop-motion work?

Maybe build a "full-size" version that could be posed as a model or actual "armature" for clay-to-bronze.

"Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors; important works of art are those that embody these innovations."
Galenson, David W. Old Masters and young geniuses, Princeton University Press, 2006
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Old 08-21-2005, 03:59 PM
Pendragon Pendragon is offline
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Re: armatures?

I have not attempted rodin's technique but i do think that, properly balanced, the cone of clay technique would work just fine as long as you were not attempting to fire.

I myself have always worked with a threaded pipe screwed into a flange that was inturn screwed into a laminate covered board. at the top two pieces of 3/16" aluminium rod wraped with 1/16 or 1/32 wire, the ends are shoved into the top of the pipe and wedged with wooden shims to make a four sided globe. as long as you are going to go to mold not to the kiln then this works wonderfully
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Old 08-21-2005, 04:53 PM
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sculptor sculptor is offline
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Re: armatures?

anything that works----for base for buildup of water clay for firing
the nice thing about the cone, is that it's removable
downside is that clay will have varying thickness = dries unevenly
with lifesize bust, you could then reach inside and scoop out clay to acheive a uniform thickness

hi temp wax core could be as sturdy for small work and work that has height to width ratio under 3-----then as you warm the clay for firing wax melts out---darned smoky best done outside

for work to be molded metal armature is best bet for strength----(includes wire and blocking)
just overbuild---
----eg: mermaid armature mounted on sturdy base with 6 casters----wood,plywood,6 pipes,blocking,brackets and screws...armature held cantilevered over 250 lbs of clay with pipe and blocking 300 and could be moved to crontrol light and shadow-----(not shown is the wire and blocking for head)

years ago, a welded armature for angelicus broke when all the clay was loaded and formed----ended up hanging off at an odd angle from a beam as I repaired it and that's where I molded it---muttering occasionally

let your imagination find a suitable armature(skeleton) within your sculptural conception-------then preload it for a test
for the "breaking off " part....try a wooden cross twisted into a pair of wires which hangs on the main supports.

rodin's work was normally cast using plaster waste molds
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Old 09-22-2005, 01:47 AM
Tirebiter Tirebiter is offline
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Re: armatures?

For a variation on Pendragon's method, for the few life-sized heads I've tried in clay, i've always taken a pipe attached to a board with a threaded flange and then bulked it up by firmly wadding up newspaper (not flat layers!!) and attaching it with masking tape.
The advantages of this particular method are 1) you don't have to hollow as much later, and 2), when the paper gets wet from the clay, you can easily modify the gross shape of the head by whacking it with your fists (very therapeutic!).

Here are two caveats:

1) the head has to be structurally supported from below, or the piece will slide down the armature and the pipe will poke out the top. That means either some part of the piece has to touch the base (for example, the bottom of the neck or shoulders) or you have to block it up with chunks of wood or pillars of clay or summat.

2) The first layer of clay has to go on slowly and dry a little so it stiffens and doesn't slide and creep off the armature.

Incidentally, the clay cone method works really well on small scale work for neck support, when you are doing small figures. When you first form the torso, you pinch up a spike of clay, and a couple hours later, while you've been working on the rest of the bod', it is stiff enough to start sticking a head on top.

I have not tried the clay cone method on a large scale, but it sounds cheap and easy to me! :)

Like Sculptor says, you have to hollow the whole business to a fairly uniform thickness before it dries. If it is difficult to reach up the neck and hollow it, slice the piece in half from top to bottom along a plane dividing the back of the jaw and the ears. Use a needle tool to probe for thickness while hollowing. Score the edges and make some clay slip to glue it back together.

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Old 09-24-2005, 07:36 PM
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realsculpt realsculpt is offline
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Re: armatures?

here are some things i have used for large sculptures,
PVC, with newspaper and duct tape, the pipe and pipe flange, but welded rebar ( think thats how it is spelled) workes best.

here is a good cheap way , this is how most theme parks are built-

use good ole chicken wire, then get "interfoam" or xtra hard or lowrise "foam-it" in a can from home depot, they are insulation foams.
over that frame wit hthe canned foam you can also get harder foam by the gal. follow the directions, all of these will not come off your skin, with out sanding wheel, no joke. but foam the wire, get about 5 to 10 pound density, it will take some practice before you get it. wear gloves, respirator with a chem and organic vapor cartiridge, or outside they really do give off Isocyanates.

after you get the big foamy mess, carve it down carefully with shapr knives to be your armature, it will take alot of wieght.

this will coast about 200$ or less most likely for this method.

be safe

this is one of my plastic figures life size!

Good lick
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Old 10-05-2005, 01:40 AM
Foundryman1 Foundryman1 is offline
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Re: armatures?

Assuming you are using water-based clay, in sculpting a life-sized bust, there is a balance between letting the clay dry out just enough to support its own weight and not letting the clay dry so much that it is unworkable. If you can sculpt the basic form and then let the clay set up somewhat, you may find your task easier. The harder clay supports the weight better. For a faster (and slightly more advanced) technique, build the bust up hollow (about 1-2 inches). A hollow clay form can also be fired fairly easily, while firing a solid life-sized bust poses significant challenges for most basic studios.

If you are using an oil-based clay, I would have to agree with the prior posts: a single trip to the hardware store should provide all you need for a good armature. I generally use 1-inch plumbing pipe set up in the form of a "T", and then massed out with whatever I have on hand; sometimes old newspapers and duct tape, wrapped in flexible "gutter guard", rabbit wire, plaster lath, or any other mesh to give the clay something to hold on to.

Have fun!!
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Old 10-06-2005, 10:03 AM
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underachiever underachiever is offline
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Re: armatures?

I tend to be a little lazy with armatures. I just start off with one piece of wood, and apply clay, then sticking pieces of wood every now and then. I mean, it's just for before casting.
I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need.
- Auguste Rodin
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Old 10-06-2005, 05:39 PM
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realsculpt realsculpt is offline
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Re: armatures?

if you are using water clay try W.E.D clay, it wont crack and dry out the same as other water clays, it was made for Walter E Disiney studios it is really great for big stuff and it stays on armatures very well
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Old 10-15-2005, 05:23 PM
ERB ERB is offline
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Re: armatures?

Here is an easy way to make an armature for a large head. Styrofoam sheets glued together and carved with a hot wire workes quite well.
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Old 10-16-2005, 04:09 AM
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Blake Blake is offline
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Re: armatures?

I have found that armatures are very important and you really need to get them right or I become very frustrated at loosing work and wasting time. I use an aluminum armature then I reuse the armature many times and the original cost doesnít seem so bad.
I build a base from pipe found in a plumbing supplies department and screw it down to a flat wooden base then stuff the aluminum into it and pound some wooden shims into the pipe, Tristan posted a good photo of this in his More sphinx pics thread At

The second photo of the back of his sphinx cat shows a good, sturdy, cheap base armature. Then with either steel rebar or aluminum rods make a light bulb shape with two rods and stick them in the base pipe then shim them in place, tie them together at the top with wire. Tristan used threaded bar which is great but expensive and difficult to bend.
I also put a couple of wooden butterflies inside the armature in order to keep the clay from falling and they can be pushed into the clay if they stick out or even cut with a pair of wire cutters if need be. These are just crosses of wood like an X with a wire tying them together in the middle and attached to the top of the armature so that they donít slide down. I put them inside the light bulb shaped form.

With water based clay you must be careful not to mix too many metals, aluminum, copper and steel will create electrolysis and this is a pain. So paint is sometimes a good idea if your armature is steel and going to be completely covered by clay.

If you are going to fire the work you need to leave lots of room at the bottom in order to get your hands inside and hollow out the piece before you let it dry so donít make your armature too big so that you have lots of room between the armature and the surface of the sculpture.
I recommend that you take an hour or two to make a strong armature and save yourself from loosing perhaps a hundred hours of work.
Hope this helps, keep us informed as to how it is going.
Art that does not attempt the impossible is not performing its function. W.B. Yeats
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Old 01-02-2014, 02:02 AM
propsculptor propsculptor is offline
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Re: armatures?

I sell ready to use life-size Sculpting Armatures on my website at and they are currently on sale!

Here is a video showing the form:
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