A Beauty Among Us
by Kristen Brady for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)
Inspiration Piece: The Birth of Venus
Inspiration Artist: Boticelli
I built my project starting off with the Chavant Modeling Clay and the steel wiring. I used the steel wiring to help support the areas I was building up with the modeling clay. I thought it best to start off with the most important part of the piece first, Venus. I had a little trouble getting started, and went right for the head. I made her head into a ball and layered the clay on top to make her face. I purposely put more than I needed in some areas, so that I might be able to carve where I needed to with my clay tools. From her head I worked down her body, as you can see in the video. After finishing layering her body enough I realized that I wouldn't have enough clay to make all the other people in the original piece. I carved off the extra clay from her fingers to better define them, and also took some tips from your site and froze the modeling clay a couple times to be able to sand and smooth her.
From there I went to using the thin assorted woods for the remaining characters in the scene. I took two of each similar wood and glued then together with the bottled glue, and allowing it to dry over night. I drew out with a pencil replicas of the remaining characters in the piece. I used free style replicating, I looked at the image of the piece and drew it on the boards as best as I could. After completing this step I used two kinds of dremils to cut off excess areas of the boards that I wouldn't currently need. I stored my excess in a wooden basket as shown in my pictures. On type is the regular electric dremil, and the air driven dremil. I needed the higher speed rotation to make certain that the wood would not shatter. I wore a cloth mask to help prevent wood dust getting into my lungs, and goggles to prevent any stray pieces of wood from getting into my eyes. With the dremil, I used many different tips to assist in shaping and sanding the edges of the wood. In doing this I was hoping to get a rather more defined look separating the three characters from the back ground. With the last two thin pieces of assorted wood, I used them both in different ways. The first one I used to finish making the surrounding characters, along with the extra remnants that had been cut off. The second I used to hold up Mercury and Nike.
Around this point I got out the larger assorted hardwoods out and had to think a rather long time on how I wanted to use them. I didn't want to make a mistake with some of the tools I was using. I used the largest piece of wood to be the main support for Venus. I was not expecting her to be as heavy as she turned out to be. With this I found that nothing short of the largest piece of wood would do to help keep her up. I put the router bits into the drill press to assist me in making the depths I needed for the appearance of the inside of the shell. From there, I used a vibratory saw to round off the front edges, prepping it for whittling. In this I accidentally nicked my hands and fingers a couple times. That is why I have bandages in some of the images. To get the finer details of the front of the "shell" I used the dremil on the front, this tool helped me greatly in most of the wood work I did. I used the image as a reference to show me how big the shell would need to be. I used the height of the Venus to aid me in this. After drilling holes on the sides of the wooden block, I placed several steel wires into the wooden block, and moved on to use the modeling clay to give the shell the extension it desperately needed. I used my clay tools to help me push and pull the clay with the steel wire with give it its shell appearance. Once finished in this area I used acrylic pain with pearlized accent to give the shell the shimmer it desperately needed.
I decided early on that I wanted to use three of the dowels for the trees that you see in the original image. Though left the worry of leaves for later. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the polymer clay was the best for the job. I wrapped the three dowels with the steel wiring and placed the modeling clay around each one so that the wires would have something to stick to once I put the leaves in. I painted the three trees and their leaves with Acrylic paint with smaller brushes.
I used more of the polymer clay to make the small flowers that are being blown Venus' way. I knew early on I wanted Mercury and the Nike characters to be truly suspended in their air, and thought it best to make a mobile for them and the flowers to hang from.
The other two boards, one I used to assist me with making the beautiful background of the image. The other I needed for the main support to hold the two hanging characters. In the images you can see that I show them both. With the thin rectangular piece I needed to use the vibratory saw. I just didn't trust it to heavier machinery than that. I used the bottled glue to bring the two slanted pieces together side to side.
For the second rectangular piece of wood, I went ahead and used a hand saw to break it in half. My intentions where two make two cherubim wings out of both halves, but didn't have the time to make two. Though I did get to use the second half as a means to support the rest of the work up.
Same thing with the halved rectangle, I started off cutting into it with router bits, the vibratory saw, but seemed to only find myself frustrated. In the end I found myself returning to the electric drill. I bought carving bits to attach to my electric drill, helped in leaps and bounds. I got the wing in the shape I liked and drilled a whole into the area that would be facing upward. With this I was able to put the steel wiring into the wing. I used the hot glue stick to glue that into place. I did this part around the end, because I know I'm very aggressive when it comes to using hot glue sticks.
To aid in making the mobile, I took the rope and disassembled it to make it smaller. I also used the hot glue stick in getting the flowers onto the strings from the rope.
With the Canvas board and the Oak Ply wood I used them to assist in setting the background sky, with the thickness of the ply wood it also showed to be another supporting item that holds up the cardboard that sits up straight. I used acryclic on both items, though with the oak I really wanted it to soak in, so I heavily watered down the acrylic first. I later layered more paint onto the oak. I'm not sure of the name of the technique I used, I just know that I found myself just dabbing my brush into two colors and carefully painting onto the surface that I was currently working on.
The canvas clothe I felt helped the piece flow and not just feel like its a scene from a box. I had it connect better areas of cardboard mostly. I painted it as well. Of course the most important job for is was using it to make the ripples in the water. I was so happy wen it stayed dried that way.
The floral foam block, I made into the farthest part of the background. The dremil really did an amazing job shaping it, that I had to be extremely careful not to mess up. I found it amusing as with the wood you had to press down rather hard most of the time.
The friendly plastic pellets I just fell in love with! They are so much fun to play with, I used them in a couple areas in my piece. I used them to show the uprising water from the shell, as well as transition the different areas of land in the background. I really also love that I got to show Murcery's breath blowing out at Venus.
The shredded news paper, I got this out once I was at the very end of the project. I had all my things going for me, I even found the fourth dowel useful in helping hold up Venus so she doesn't sway on the shell. Though for the news paper I was rather frustrated, and it wasn't the papers fault. I put way too much water in a cup and way too little glue from my glue bottle. It just made it worse when I used the last of it. Thankfully it still did what I needed it to, and that was more than good enough for me. I used the news print to connect the lands in the background together.
Once I started putting everything together I found quickly that I needed a support system for under the cardboard box itself. I cut off some of the extra cardboard and made a support box, and even put in strengtheners with more cardboard. The second half of the rectangle wood is helping support the lower front of the piece, and the shredded newsprint.
In the images you'll see I made little trees for in the distance, as well as made a little hole for the earth goddess to have been glued into place. Though for the shell, I rather hid that I cut into the front of the cardboard box, and drapped the canvas rippled in front of the shell to hide the supportive base that Venus stands on.
I used only acrylic paint on this piece, and am very grateful to be apart of it.
The only thing I can think of is just a personal reason of why I really want my piece to be number one. I would any other day be happy for any place, but one of the top places would help my family and I get use the last little bit of money we need to move to Oregon from the east. My dad has had eight back surgeries, and my mother has R.A. in her hips. I really want to do this for them, so they can retire, and be close to their brothers and sisters in their golden years.