Each day spent working on the sculpture focuses on a different part such as shaping the legs or smoothing the arms. I start by sanding it with coarse sandpaper to remove sand-like clumps on the surface and remove high spots. Sandpaper works wonders by making the high spots appear slightly lighter in colour than the untouched low spots. It instantly shows how bumpy the surfaces are even though they were smoothed as best as possible with my fingertips when the clay was soft. As I continue sanding, the light coloured high spots grow in size until eventually the low dark spots disappear. However, I have to be careful because not all high spots are unwanted. For example, throughout the process I have to keep reshaping features such as ankle bones so that they are not lost.
There are also areas where insufficient clay is present. If I sand it all the way down to the bottom of the low spot then the shape will become unbalanced. For example, if one leg has too deep of a low spot on a thigh and I sand it all the way down to the bottom, this thigh will be smaller than the one on the other leg. To keep the princess balanced these areas that are too low have to be left for now and once the entire sculpture is sanded I'll go over it and add a thin layer of clay to them.
Throughout the building of the sculpture, the hair has had many layers added by people helping out. I completed the forshape by adding a few more layers of Winterstone in specific areas to bring it into the proper final shape then added a layer of icing and dragged my putty knife through it to create hair-like swoops. It created a nice dragon-burned look. Perfect! The hair is complete.
The Final Helpers
Lee Lyon and her two daughters Chloe and Gracie offered to help build the princess sculpture months ago but the time slots available were already filled so they waited patiently for an opportunity to arise. They had the privilege of being the first group to apply an icing layer to the bag. They particularly enjoyed using their fingers to smooth the icing.
As the sculpture approached its final form, the icing had to be applied very carefully because there are few future layers to fix accidental oh-oh's. My daughters Ashley McCarl-Palmer and Sondra Burrows-Wolting along with her husband Justin Wolting-Burrows stepped up to the challenge. Knowing how much I love my creations and how important details are, they were filled with trepidation at the start but by the end it had evolved into a typical family adventure filled with chatter, laughter and goofing around.
Thousands of potential sculptures lie within each and every uncut stone. Sometimes the destiny is obvious when I see a stone and sometimes releasing the sculpture within is a long journey following countless hints and inspirations.