Today the class went to St. Anthony’s Chapel on Troy Hill in Pittsburgh, PA. The Chapel houses the world’s largest collection of Catholic relics outside of the Vatican. There are over 4,000 relics, including bone fragments of Saints, slivers of the True Cross, a piece from the table of the Last Supper, a thorn from the Crown, and a sliver of Mary’s veil. The Chapel also houses the 12 Stations of the Cross that are hand carved Linden wood sculptures made in Munich by the Royal Ecclesiastical Art Establishment of Mayer & Company. What a fascinating place for art, religion, and the power of believing in objects. Thank you to Norman our wonderful tour guide.
Zhiwan has sculpted the head of Mao out of water based clay. It is built up on a 2″x4″ wrapped that is wrapped in armature wire and screwed to the base board. He let it dry to a “leather hard” consistency so that the mold does not damage the clay head as it is being made. Below is a step by step process of making a two piece plaster mold from a clay positive that will be used for a brush on latex mask. The mask will be similar to a Halloween mask, and will be used as a prop for a video. First we built a temporary wall of clay over the head where we want the parting line. Then we coated the clay with a spray release agent, after which we paint on a slurry layer of Hydrocal/Plaster. Then we built up the plaster by painting it on the base coat as it was drying. After which, we added a layer of burlap and plaster, and then a final coat of plaster to finish the side. After the first side is done, we removed the temporary clay wall and coated the plaster parting line with Vaseline so the next side would not stick to the first. The process is repeated for the second side and then after some dry time, it is demolded and cleaned. Ready for latex application.
Now we are ready to paint in the latex. He painted in three coats when the mold was open on each side. Then closed the mold, wrapped it with an old bicycle tube as a rubber band, and then poured a slush layer of latex to bind it together. After it was dry he demanded and then cut the flashing of latex away from the casting. It was then complete! Success!