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Female Torso II

sitting_7a

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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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