Saturday, July 10, 2010

Making Gargoyles

There are at least two ways to make a gargoyle: Carve it or sculpt it.

I carved this one out of poplar wood for the end of the handrail in the stairway to my studio. Poplar splits easily and I messed up on the other side---which is why I put the bad side to the wall.

But there’s an easier way if the piece is only decorative. You can sculpt the head out of the air-drying foam called “Model Magic,” and then paint it with acrylic to simulate wood grain. The whole process only takes a couple of hours.

That’s how Jeanette and I did the green men that live on the keystones of the arches over the studio windows.

9 comments:

Steve said...

Years ago, a globe-trotting friend sent me a postcard of a Green Man gargoyle from a German cathedral. He's been keeping watch over my studio desk, peering through his oak leaf lids. Maybe this winter would be the time to make him three-dimensional. Thanks for the tip!

Cully said...

Come now Mr. Gurney! You should know it isn't a gargoyle unless it has a drain pipe inside. What you are carving/sculpting are grotesques.

Sorry, couldn't resist, it is one of my language pet peeves, right up there with misuse of "penultimate."

Drew said...

Those greenmen are terrific, as well as the gargoyle banister. I can't say I would ever brave carving wood, something tells me it would end more in frustration and cuts than anything else.

How long does Model Magic stay workable? It sounds an awful like this stuff that crayola used to make (or still makes, I dunno) that I used back as a kid to make a small pterodactyl glider. I imagine it's not a very dense substance...as you said, foam.

Gordon Napier said...

I made a clay gargoyle once. Put too much glaze on though, unfortunately, which went all bubbly, and he looked like he was foaming at the mouth. (More of a gurgle than a gargolye). it also glued him to the edge of the kiln shelf, which had to be snapped off, so he got a free perch into the bargain.

James Gurney said...

Cully, you're right--thanks!

Drew, yes, it's the Crayola stuff. It's fairly light and marshmallowy. I liked it because it was unbreakable in case it fell off.

bzyglowi said...

Drew- I use the Crayola Model Magic a lot and it's actually pretty useful. I use mine to make masks, and what I do is generally apply some paper and modge-podge over the clay once it's dried; this makes it much sturdier and less brittle and foamy. I was also advised by another artist who makes sculptures out of it that you can use it over wire armatures, and if you add Elmer's glue to it, it will stick to itself better and become more workable.

It's a great, cheap sculpting material so I do recommend it.

Cam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cam said...

Mr. Gurney is a gargoyle magnet:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/trailofterror/4775646556/

(created with a foam mattress topper and several types of paint)

Random York said...

This is great stuff, Jim. I've really been enjoying your blog lately! Well, I always enjoy it!-John