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Female Torso II


I didn’t want to just clone an existing piece, however, so I elected to use two different sculptures as contributing molds and merge the results into a unique hybrid. For the upper body I selected the Sitting Female, shown here encased in Saran Wrap ® for protection. I simply built up about three overlapping layers of wet fiberglass cloth on top of the Saran Wrap ® (after first checking to be sure it didn’t dissolve upon exposure to the polyester resin), then peeled off the hardened shell when the composite cured.


To further diminish the similarity between the original and the copy, I cut out a one-inch vertical strip as shown above to reduce the width, then rejoined the two halves to be proportional to the more petite Female Torso I planned to use as the mold for the bottom half of the new piece.


I completely covered the Female Torso in Saran Wrap ® for protection, placed it in a horizontal position on my workbench, then applied a layer of blue masking tape to the back to eliminate wrinkles and ensure stability of the mold.


This photo shows the back of the copper-plated torso covered in three layers of still wet fiberglass, waiting to cure.


Once the resin sets up, I leave the fiberglass shell in place on the mold for at least 24 hours to ensure no stress-induced deformations, as polyester resin shrinks slightly during the curing process. The mold is then inverted so the Saran Wrap ® can be cut away with scissors as shown, whereupon the fiberglass shell (shown here on the bottom) can be peeled away from the mold, which escapes unscathed.


The same process is used to create the front half of the legs and lower abdomen, again using the Female Torso as a positive mold. The resulting front shell is attached to the upper body shell molded from the Sitting Female, then faired in with Bondo ®. I accentuated the arch of the back and twisted it slightly at the waistline to achieve an altogether different look than that of the first Female Torso.


To further individualize the piece and achieve a more dynamic pose, I cut a wedge out of the left leg and canted it out slightly, as shown here partially reattached with fiberglass. Once this first patch cures, I bridge the remaining gap with more fiberglass, then fair the entire joint out to where it looks like it was made that way from the beginning.

I still have a lot of work to do on this piece, but the technique of using existing sculptures as source molds for future body parts has proven very effective, allowing me to achieve a ready-for-detail starting point in a fraction of the time required with a sand/stucco mold. Better yet, the more sculptures I have to draw from, the more versatile the technique becomes. And I freely admit that no “real” sculptor would ever follow this procedure, but it works for me. I sculpt like I build robots, and let my experience with working fiberglass make up for my lack of true artistic talent.

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