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Speed Freak plaster bust

 introducing the latest limited edition bust,
Speed Freak
I came across a large toy Formula One racing car some time ago and pondered for quite a while as to how I could transform it into headgear for one of my sculptures.  

I didn't realize what a challenge I had set myself as this object proved spectacularly difficult to manipulate into a composition and even harder to make a mould from due to its complex undercut form. I had no idea until making the final plaster cast whether I would be successful (and if not a lot of weeks wasted!).

I don't usually show the the original sculptures I create which the plaster casts are made from, but I found this snap I took on day one, hour one and it reminded me what a massively long journey it was from initial concept to final sculpture.  On the other hand, it also reminded me why I take these journeys in the first place which is because ...well  I'm not good at writing about that, but luckily for me art historian Julia Kelly is and you can read her article about my sculpture on Axis Web Open Frequency

Taking a silicone mould from the original sculpture.

I had to make a lot of modifications to the racing car in its overall form and detail so that it would fit with the head. But also I did stuff to it so it looks like it's been in a serious pile up which I thought would be a lot more interesting.  I don't know why I was attracted to this car - partly I like the incongruous juxtaposition it makes with the figure

As I've written before, I use lots of random, low-key, discarded materials to construct my original sculptures. I like the idea that you can transpose something mundane and 'valueless' into something beautiful or elegant or sophisticated looking.  I created a 1960s beehive from printers offcuts.

The angle and height of the beehive was of crucial importance - as anyone who is familiar with 60s beehives will be fully aware!

Making the silicone moulds is tiresome and long winded and if you don't do it right you'll never get a good plaster cast from it.

This sculpture had so much deep undercutting that I had no idea how I could successfully make the mould - then I discovered a special technique for dealing with the deep undercuts (the separate pieces above)

I had a pretty fair idea that the card offcuts would make good 'hair' and transpose well into plaster and was very happy with how it came out.  I like cantilevered forms and often use these. My technical mould-making skills eventually caught up with urge to use them.

Rather spooky ! - the mould all ready to cast in plaster.

My heart was beating hard when I peeled back the silicone mould from the first cast ....

.............I was beyond thrilled when I realized it was going to come out OK.

This sculpture really has been my biggest challenge to date and I had to methodically climb a mountain of new techniques - but now at the top of that particular summit I realize I can explore all kinds of crazy shapes and ideas in future work.  I started this collection in 2010 and I seem to have worked out all the methodology by trial and error - I should have had a few lessons at the beginning, would have speeded things up a bit!

The Elizabethan ruff is a bizarre abstract structure which I've referenced a number of times in my sculpture. I thought it would be interesting to make a large-scale geometric version in contrast to the undulating form of the racing car.

See my post about the Tudor Frieze I made which also references the ruff 

I imagine this sculptor was also drawn to the extreme sculptural nature of the ruff - though his skill level is way, way beyond mine!  I constructed Speed Freak's ruff from copier paper - the hard bit was making sure it didn't collapse under the weight of the silicone rubber mould.

Phew, that was a hard old road! Looking forward to the next one.........

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