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Let's Face It, Nothing Is Perfect The First Time Around

Introduction to Filing Faces

03-18-03 ramble on sculpting faces

I stayed up until the wee hours filing the faces of the sculptures
I've been making:

The extended Egyptian Family
Mom, Dad and Baby

Uncle, Sister and Brother

as well as yesterday's Nursing Mother and baby

6 faces and each one takes about an hour to file.

Now what's this deal about filing already cured faces? The reason I
showed the process yesterday was to point out to folks that faces
don't have to be perfect and smooth and defined for the first curing.
A lot of us have hand tremors, or find that when we fix that nose we
goof up the lips. There's a solution to that and this is filing after
the first curing.

Cowboy Kai taught me that

Get the face sculpted and have enough mass for nose and lips and
eyes, then cure. Then I use a jeweler's file and I start filing off a
little bit at a time, getting the jaw shape right, smoothing out
rough spots, making definition for the ears and eyes. Karen Lewis
joined us yesterday for a bit and asked me "How do you get it so
smooth?"  I file the last bit in little circles, round and round, and
that seems to smooth where I'm working.

After filing a bit, brush off the clay dust, so you can see what
you're doing. Make sure the clay dust is totally off your sculpture
before you cure it again or that clay dust will stay there. If you
want a dusty look, then don't. Most of us don't want a dusty look to
our figures and faces.

Now you're at a point in the process where the face is where you want
it to be, but there's file marks. One can sand it from here but I
find that sanding removes more clay and will change delicate things
like nostrils, the dip on the upper lip, that sort of thing so I have
this trick, it's clay spakle.

Take skin colored clay and mix it with a drop of Translucent Liquid
Sculpey and get a "Cover Girl" foundation sort of consistency. Brush
that on the filed areas and spakle in the grooves and file marks.
Here Cowboy Kai's face is filed
Here's Cowboy Kai's face with the TLS clay skin spakle.
Here's Cowboy Kai in his Native American outfit with eyeballs.

The eyebrows, irises of the eyes, nipples and other such
embellishments is also TLS and clay color, or TLS and acrylic paint.
Since it is clay it doesn't go flat and offers some volume to things
like eyebrows.

Just as I've mentioned before you don't have to expect to sculpt a
face perfect the first time out. You can do it incrementally using
molds. Get the shape right, cure, make a mold, make an impression of
that mold and get the nose right, cure, mold, make impression, and
then get the eyes right.
Here are the different iterations of Kai's face. As I caught a part
of his face right, I cured it to save that work. Made an impression
and then worked on other parts of his face. This is a good trick for
those who are doing faces that actually belong to a person and
there's little room for artistic license.

Nothing, I mean nothing is done perfect first time out. We get close,
do rough drafts, cure and file and make molds, and sculpt or file and
go on with the process. For anyone who thinks that I make perfect
faces straight out of the box I hope that yesterday's webcam will
dispel that myth.

Only God and the Angels are perfect, we are merely making our best
effort. But in making our best effort we don't need to make ourselves
uptight. Cut yourself some slack and get a face as close as you can
get while the clay is raw, cure, file and refine the face. You can
always add on more clay after curing if you really goof up.

I fixed the ankle of Kai on the Green Breast for Doffy, for it got
broken in shipping. After cleaning up the break, adding more skin
clay, recuring and sanding, some Future finish you'd have never known
his ankle was broken at all. That's the great thing about polymer
clay as opposed to earth clay, it can be repaired.

I will be discussing faces more after I get back from Ruth's on
Wednesday night. So Thursday will be a WebCam Demo day and we will be
doing face sculpting. Baby's faces are different from adult's faces.
Young faces different from old. How are they different? How can we
capture this in our sculpting. Questions like these are going to be
addressed, if not answered.

For those who are new and there are a few, check out our FACE OFF
page, it's a on going process of learning how to sculpt faces that
are realistic, show emotion and actually look like the target subject.