Sculpture Challenge Day 5 – expressing emotion

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Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, playing with lighting and shadows front view
Finished mask, playing with lighting and shadows.

I am starting to hit the hurdle of how to express feelings and emotions in drawing and sculpture…..

The overall emotion that came out of day 5 was one of fizzing and buzzing and generally sparking an feeling really good. Try figuring out how to express that! The realisation that it would be so difficult almost made me want to rewrite the rules I had set for myself. I say almost, because it suddenly dawned on me that I have no one to answer to with this, it is all my own choice and the meanings will come from my own life experiences. So whatever comes out comes out. Other people will bring their own life experiences to the way they react to the pieces.

The sketches I came up with were even more wide ranging than for the other days as I had no clue when I started them how to express what I was feeling. It’s almost like I need to come up with a new language for this kind of thing, something that will take a little time to figure out I guess. Time that I am willing to put in. With each small sketch things tend to get a bit clearer in both my head and my hands and direct the next sketch until something clicks in my head. One sketch will always draw my eye more than the others and I know that that is the one to go with.

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - sketches
Varied sketches trying to work out the emotion I was feeling. I chose to make the one in the bottom left corner.

 

The sketch showed me that the piece of wood needed to be slightly longer than the others, I had enough left so that was no problem. I again used the bandsaw to cut out the outline and to shape in the face of the mask a bit, removing excess timber so that the hand carving would be a lot easier.

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, outline cut and excess wood removed using a bandsaw
Initial shaping is so much quicker on a bandsaw and helps to see the shape a lot quicker.

 

Once I had shaped the overall face area in by hand I placed in the eye sockets so that I could work around them rather than guess their placement. I felt that where the eyes are is very important in this mask and I knew that they could and would be finessed later.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong,
Placing the eyes on early let me work around them.

 

 

I had the general shape locked in my head, especially the face, and I knew that the eye sockets would be large but the top half or hair was a little more fuzzy in my head. The first consideration was the different levels of the mask, should the face sit lower than the hair? Should the top of the hair sit forwards from the face? Lots to think about and then that drawn texture…… Had this have been a longer project I would have taken the time to make some test carvings to play with the texture. A few scribbles of lines is so difficult to bring into carving! I decided to just crack on and try things out on the actual piece.

I tried one way, just randomly carving a pattern in. I didn’t like it so I took a break to have a think about what to do, whether to carve it clean and start again or what. I came to the conclusion that I needed to start again so carved all the pattern off. When restarting I decided to draw the pattern on first this time. It still wasn’t quite right, but I was aware of my time limitations. Another break and another clean carve and restart, this time with a completely differently shaped gouge. Immediately it felt better. It’s not 100% what I wanted but I decided to go with it due to time constraints.

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, first texture test
I tried one way with one gouge and free carving on the mask.

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, second texture test
I tried another way drawing onto the wood first.

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, third and final texture test
Then I tried a completely different gouge and was a lot happier with the result.

 

The eye sockets are once again an interesting part of this piece. On the drawing I had them drawn in as very large openings but wasn’t so sure as I was working so I scooped the large shapes in and left them alone while I carried on working. It gave me time to have a think. Working all around the piece gives me time to think on the bits I can’t immediately decide on. It only becomes a problem when moving on is restricted because the decision you are trying to make directly affects the next bit you want to work on.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, large eye sockets carved out
I scooped in the large eye sockets while I thought about what to do

 

On a whim I drew in smaller eyes within the larger sockets….I quite liked the effect so I hollowed them in to see what they might look like if they were permanently like that. The thinking here being that if I didn’t like them I was going to make the holes much larger to make them into the large sockets anyway so I had nothing to lose. It did create another dilemma as I then couldn’t decide what to do. Time to move on to another part of the mask and have a think.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong,
Drawing in smaller eyes into the larger sockets.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, eyes drawn larger to check shape
I drew the eyes larger in the sockets to check the size and shape before committing to cutting the timber

 

Carving out the back of the mask is always a long process and to start with is, if I’m honest, really quite boring and hurts my hands. I remembered this time to use my, ugh can’t think of the right name but it’s similar to a dremel and is foot operated, and with the fantastic heads I have for it it eats timber like no one’s business. It made taking the timber away such a quick job I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier in the challenge! I do have a tendency to forget some of the things that might make my life easier. The nearer I got to the thickness I wanted, the more carefully I worked. I drilled a small hole through the middle of the inner eye to that I could tell the rough thickness from the back.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, back excess wood removed with a power tool
So much easier to remove the wood with a power tool!

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, back carved clean by hand
Though it looks much better when it is then cleaned up by hand.

 

With the back finished I had had enough time to think about the eyes. I decided to follow my drawing, but not as wide as I was worried that I would be able to see the inside of the sides through the eyes and I didn’t want that. But I had already carved the sockets in at full width so I thought that leaving a bevel to the opening would solve that problem. I also felt that if I didn’t make the eyes bigger I would forever look at the mask and wonder what it would have looked like. This seemed the better way to do it.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, eyes drawn larger to check shape
I drew the eyes larger in the sockets to check the size and shape before committing to cutting the timber

 

I am so very pleased that I made the eyes bigger as it just feels right, and I can always make another with large sockets and small eyes if I want to. In fact I think I will.

I really was not sure about this mask when I started it, I was worried that although I loved the drawing I would not be able to get the same feeling in the three dimensional piece. What I have made is not exactly how the drawing is, but I feel there is enough of it there to make it feel right.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, finished front view
Finished front view

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, finished back view
Back view

 

Stiller Designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, finished right side
Right side

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 5 - mask in jelutong, left side
Left side

 

 

This finished mask has sparked off a whole load of new ideas. I know I have said that every day but it’s true, and it’s wonderful and just so exciting. I need to spend some time getting all these designs drawn up so that even if I don’t have time to make them I have them all there when I need them.

This is the last piece in this 5 day challenge, I will be following up with a final letter looking at how the whole thing has gone and where I am going to move forwards from here.

First impressions are that it has been brilliant and I am so very glad that I took it on and actually completed it…

 

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .

 

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Sculpture Challenge Day 4 – a simple joy

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, finished front view
Day 4 – mask in Jelutong, front

I am not sure what it says about me that I am finding happy designs more difficult to come up with than any other kind of design….

Day four was a really lovely day, the overwhelming emotion was of joy and happiness and contentment. Boy is that difficult to draw and design! I am realising that I need a lot more practice at expressing emotions in drawing and sculpture, something that I do plan to do.

The design that I came up with turned out to be very simplistic and will rely mostly on the outer shape and the placing of the eyes and mouth.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 mask sketches
Day 4 sketches…. just how do you show joy?

 

After yesterday’s dilemma with the mask/not mask thoughts, I did decide that I definitely wanted to have proper openings and I wanted to try to get a thinly carved mask today so keeping the design simple helped a lot.

I started the same as yesterday using the bandsaw to cut the outline and to remove quite a bit of the excess wood. That helps so much time wise. And I had forgotten how much I enjoy cutting things on the bandsaw, which is a bit of an odd thing to say but I do enjoy it.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, outline cut and excess wood removed on bandsaw
Outline cut out and excess wood removed on the bandsaw.

 

You can only take so much off with the bandsaw and you have to be careful. Power tools are really helpful as they quicken the process, but they can also be a massive problem if you end up taking off too much wood or in the wrong place. It is really difficult, if not impossible, to stick it back on again. Once I had got the overall shape carved out I sketched on the eyes and mouth to check the placement. Then I carved them in so that I could work around them.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, overall shape carved, eyes and mouth sketched in
Eyes and mouth sketched onto the overall shape.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, eyes and mouth placement carved in
Eyes and mouth carved into place.

 

I was a little worried that the mask was looking a bit egg shaped, so I went back and readjusted the outline on the bandsaw before I started to cut out the back. Cutting out the back takes quite a while, I spent a long time while I was working trying to decide how thin to take the whole mask. I thought that the side walls should be left thicker than around the mouth and eyes which needed to be thin enough so that they didn’t look chunky when I cut through to make the openings. Speaking of which I found that it was quite difficult to tell how thick the wood was and I resorted to drilling into the eye and mouth carvings so that as I carved the back away I would know when to slow down when I hit the drilled holes. Actually that worked really well and I think I got the mouth and eyes the same shape as I had drawn them in.

For such a simple design it took quite a bit of time, but I am pleased with him. There is something very strokeable about him and I like that the surface is not completely smooth.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, finished back view
Day 4 – mask in Jelutong, back view showing how thin the sides are

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, finished left side
Day 4 mask in Jelutong, left side

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 4 - mask in jelutong, finished right side
Day 4 – mask in jelutong, right side

 

I know that I have said it every day but I have even more ideas floating around after today and I am so excited. So many choices going forward. I am making a note of them and I already know which series of work I will be making after this challenge is finished, which is brilliant. And I also know that I already have another three paths to take after that.

Tomorrow is the last day of my challenge and I am really looking forward to it. Let’s see what it brings….

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .

 

Sculpture Challenge Day 3 – when is a mask not a mask?

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, front view
Day 3 – finished jelutong mask, front view

If a mask has no holes for the wearer to see through is it still a mask?

This is the dilemma I am facing with today’s sculpture due to the way I wanted the eyes to look…but I am getting off track a little.

Day three was a day full of frustration and just ugh for me and the way I wanted to show that was through squinty, screwed up eyes…..easy to draw and not so easy to carve! It seems to be all about the eyes at the moment. I am not thinking too hard about it, just trying to go with my gut and follow the flow.

It took me a while to hit the right feeling with the drawing, but once I got there I knew that that was what I wanted. I do find it amusing how suddenly something just jumps out at me. I always know that if I don’t 100% know which sketch to pick I haven’t come up with the right sketch yet and so have to keep on drawing.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 mask sketches
A variety of feelings and sketches to decide between.

 

The only difference I made at the start was to remove some of the excess wood with the bandsaw so I had less to remove by hand. As I had a very good idea of the overall shape of what I wanted I felt confident to do that where I had been more unsure on other days.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bandsaw cuts to remove the excess wood
At the start I used the bandsaw to cut the outline and remove some of the excess wood from the overall shape.

 

I knew that I wanted a pretty bold and simplistic design full of curves, so it was easy to follow the sketched lines to remove the wood straight away.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, cut on the sketched lines to place the nose and eyes
Placing the eyes and nose was done very early on.

 

Sometimes I can see my way around a design really well in my head before I start working, those pieces always seem to go quicker as the decisions are already waiting for me. I am trying to match what is in front of me with the image in my head. When I can’t see the three dimensional shape so well in my head before I start it takes me longer as I have to make more decisions on the fly. And sometimes even if I can see it in my head I may still change things as I work depending on how I feel it is going.

The nose was something I was not so sure that I actually wanted, it appeared in the sketch but I wasn’t sure that it would be right on the sculpture. I decided to put it in as I knew that I could always take it out again if I changed my mind. You can always take more wood away but it’s pretty difficult to put it back on again if you change your mind.

One decision that had to be made was how deep in to push the bridge of the nose, I knew that pushing it in more would help the effect of the wrinkling of the eyes, but I didn’t want to push it in too far. I think I hit a good compromise. Though I would like to carve it a few more times just to try out some of the variations .

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bridge of nose at the beginning
The bridge of the nose was quite forward to start with.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, bridge of nose carved deeper
When the bridge of the nose is carved deeper it looks better to me.

 

I found the eyes really interesting to carve, trying to get those few strokes on the paper into the third dimension was a challenge. I do love how they have turned out. I made sure that they are carved around to the back so that they look like a ball. I’m not sure they are squinty enough but I do love them.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, the eyes are square to the back
To start with the eyes are square near the back, which does not look as good from the front.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, rounding the eyes to the back, side view
The eyes look rounder from the front if they are rounded towards the back of the sculpture.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong, rounding the eyes to the back
Looking from the top you can see the rounding of the eyes much better

 

Back to that dilemma…I have not carved out the back of the sculpture as there was no way to open out the eyes so you could see through them so I felt that it was not right to carve it into a thinner outer. So for the moment I have left it as is. I will think on it a bit more before I make a final decision. I have left it without colour as I feel that for this sketch I want to see the form more than anything else.

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, left side view
Day 3 – mask in jelutong, left side view

 

stiller designs sculpture challenge day 3 - mask in jelutong finished, right side view
Day 3 – mask in jelutong, right side view

 

I am very pleased with today’s sculpture and again I can see an awful lot of ways forward from here. And I am so chuffed that these sculptures are sparking off so many new ideas. The fact that it is different to the other days’ work pleases me no end, for some reason I never expected that!

 

Who knows what tomorrow will bring…

 

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .

 

Sculpture Challenge Day 2 – it’s all in the eyes….

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 - mask painted jelutong finished front view
Day 2 – mask finished front view

I am finally catching up with myself and getting back on track with my Sculpture Challenge, my day two sculpture is complete and I am so pleased to be able to share it.

Day two has been a tricky one to decide which design to actually go with as I had several emotions swirling around in the day, though I did not really want to try to put more than one into the sculpture.

In the end I settled on something that has been a huge part of my life for the past 8 days or so, motorway driving and in particular Operation Stack on the M20. Out of the past 8 days I have driven up and down the motorway for 7 of them, you can say that I am a little motorwayed out! And on Tuesday I made the mistake of trying to get somewhere in rush hour traffic, the memory of the sight of the M20 as basically a carpark all the way up to junction 4 where I turned off will stay with me for a long time. Luckily I was travelling north so I did not get stuck in it.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 - mask sketches
There were loads of different ideas and designs flying about for this mask.

 

All that driving has made me feel very tired, especially my eyes and all I felt on Tuesday evening was that my eyes were huge and all I could see were all the white line markings across my eyes and nothing else…..

Eyes are a very big focus for this mask, eyes and nothing else….

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 mask jelutong roughing out shape marking out design
Roughing out the overall shape and marking out the eye sockets.

 

Starting the sculpture was a lot easier today, my brain was already in the right frame of mind. So the start was like yesterday, drawing a rough shape on and cutting it out with some straight pieces left so it could be held easily in the vice. Roughing out the shape and carving in the huge eye sockets, but mostly leaving the shape as quite basic as I want the eyes to be the emphasis, I want all the attention on them.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 mask jelutong carving eye sockets
Carving in the eye sockets.

 

The eyes were drawn in to check the placement and then cut through from the front, I cut them fairly deep so that when I cut from the back towards them I could find them better and not cut right through which is my greatest fear and would ruin all the work done so far.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 mask jelutong finished carving front view
Unpainted, finished jelutong mask, front view.

 

Again I have not cut the mask very thin, it’s something I need to build up to a bit more, maybe when I have some more time as its quite a time consuming thing and in the limited time that I have I don’t want to spend it making the piece beautifully thin, I will save that for another time. All I wanted was that the eye holes could be seen through.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 mask jelutong white gouache base
White gouache base coat in the eye sockets.

 

With the carving finished I knew I wanted to paint the eye sockets and played with a couple of ways of putting the white lines across the sockets. I decided that they should go round the sockets as to me that made me feel more of the tiredness I was feeling after all the driving.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 mask jelutong grey gouache coat
Grey gouache coat in the eye sockets.

 

I do love the effect of the massive eye sockets and I feel that they really stand out which is what I have been aiming for all along. I think I’ll hang this one next to yesterday’s above my carving bench.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 - mask painted jelutong finished back view
Day 2 mask finished back view

 

What I find so brilliant about doing all this is all the ideas that free flow from the process of making. All the different variations and possibilities and ways of trying things. I have so many more ideas I want to try, and I would really like to make a full size mask. I am already contemplating making some more of these small sketch masks so I can try out ideas relatively quickly before making a larger one.

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 - mask painted jelutong finished right side view
Day 2 mask – finished right side view

 

Stiller Designs Sculpture Challenge day 2 - mask painted jelutong finished left side view
Day 2 – mask finished left side view

 

Today’s mask has pleased me no end and I am really quite chuffed that it is so very different to yesterdays and will give me the opportunity of going forwards in more than one direction.

 

I am looking forward to what tomorrow will bring…..

 

You can find the sculpture challenge day one here and the sculpture challenge day three here.

 

 

 

Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Sculpture, Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .