Starting the base

When I work on medallions, I like the keep the background and the horse separate until close to the end. That allows me to work on each piece without fear of damaging the other. It also lets me shift the horse around if it looks like I need to adjust the position.

For the base I rolled the plastelline out to an even thickness on a glazed white tile. The tile works as a base when later I need to make the rubber mold. I then trim it to the dimensions of the card. I am sculpting with the idea of casting in earthenware, so these dimensions are actually 6% larger than the desired 2.5″ x 3.5″, since that’s how much the greenware will shrink during firing. The edges have a slight bevel to them, to make it easier to remove the castings. (I learned to do this the hard way with the Celtic Pony medallion.)

Once I have the background in place, I cut a recess for the horse. I do this because I want to minimize the relief on this piece. I want a more uniform thickness, and relatively low relief, so the piece is sturdy for handling – and so I have a better chance of predicting the shrinkage. I need it to shrink a uniform 6% if I am going to end up with exact trading card measurements.

My other reason for cutting this recess is that I want to get this kind of outlining effect. I was very taken with this medallion, which we saw at Brookgreen last month. (I regret that I did not get the title or artist.) When I saw it, I immediately thought about how effective this would be with art glazes, which tend to pool in the recesses of a piece. Since stylized outlining is a common device in Art Nouveau, it will tie in well with my theme.

Here I have set my horse on the background to check for fit. I won’t refine the outline of the recess until much closer to the end, since the specific contours of the horse will probably change. But it let me adjust where I think the horse will sit, and what area of the shoulders I will need to add. (You can see I’ve begun to rough that in so I will know what needs to be added.)

My next task will be the second biggest design element – the text. There is a neat trick for that, which I’ll cover in tomorrow’s post.

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One Response to Starting the base

  1. Carol H. November 16, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    This is so interesting, Lesli! Becky Turner showed me the trick of using a ceramic tile earlier this year, I never would have thought of that on my own. (I just globbed my head on a thick piece of clay, what a mess). Thanks for sharing these initial processes, I can’t wait to see what you have to say about the type :-)

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