Work progress 
methods and materials
of Martino Catalano - sculptor
Behind every piece there is a labour of love and this page shows how some of my works are created, moulded and cast. As any passionate sculptor with added moulding skills will agree, the smells of the silicones, resins, latex, polyurethanes and the feel of the plasters,  cements, waxes and puttys as they are blended and catalysed bring a special kind of delight as I enter my workshop to begin a new project. What was at first daunting to me is now an indispensible necessity and an essential extension of the sculpting process aquired through years of trial and error.

All content Copyright © Martino Catalano 2011
MOULDMAKING:

Below: Summer 2000: applying progressive silicone rubber layers to both the 'Cobra-Queen' and 'The Fruit of Female Desire' wall-mounted sculptures. This is a slow and necessary process which allows the silicone rubber to sink into every detail, ensuring an absolutely faithful reproduction of the original clay master. The penetrating action of the silicone even works on near vertical surfaces (with a little help from a good brush) as seen on the 'Female Desire' relief in the background.

LARGE-SCALE SCULPTING:

Below: Summer 2000: working on the sculpting stage of 'The Fruit of Female Desire' the sheer volume and weight of the clay required a very strong plywood board reinforced with a timber battening frame to prevent warping. This was then draped with chicken-wire and suspended 'butterflies' (wood pieces attached to string  to hold the downward weight of the clay).
The clay build-up process could then begin.





Right: Arranging lighting in a certain way can reveal any proportionate or feature flaws and give a preview of sorts of how the finished piece will appear.

Below:  Autumn 2001:
At work on the 'Female Contortionist' sculpture. She is made in terracotta clay to enhance the smooth and taut muscles of the thighs. I am applying beads on the head-dress as a marked contrast to the expanse of bare skin.
This is an Art-Deco inspired piece, but with a very risque slant. The subject for this sculpture is based on the contortionist dancers and burlesque performers of American speakeasy clubs in the 1920's. The muscular strain of such feats of entertainment is stylised in the elongated legs and grasping hands.
Below: side view of the 'Female Contortionist' sculpture in progress showing the exaggerated
and bizarre physique. The off-centre backwards lean is integral to the figure's display of physical endurance and sexual tension. The portion which is inclining is supported with an external iron piece which runs up into the main armature inside the sculpture.
More images:
Below: three views of the 'Snake Goddess' resin/fibreglass cast. This was made in my less experienced days of resin casting and there are air-pockets evident in the casting surface. This happens if the 'gel-coat' (a thickened, thixotropic gel form of resin) is applied too haphazardly without due care and attention being paid to brush the material into all the detailed areas of the negative mould.

The air-pockets in castings can be rectfied by using a polyester-based filler to first fill in the bulk of the cavity, then to sculpt over and blend in with an epoxy putty any missing detail.
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'David Bowie' bust
(private commission - 2002).

An example of a typical bust sculpture in progress. A sturdy wood or metal armature is affixed to a base initially and then wound with string or draped with chicken-wire to accomodate the weight and distribution of the clay which is applied steadily. Proportions and features are 'blocked in' and then detail is introduced when the previous criteria are established.
I've used terracotta here - a beautiful, smooth clay which gives a lovely finish to sculptures.
Below: Autumn 1985 - at work on a commission for a Greek archaic sphinx.
A welded armature of angle iron together with timber, chicken wire and foam packing was constructed before the clay build up for this piece of work. The meticulous detail of the stylised feathers was the most challenging aspect of this sculpture as well as capturing the symmetrical pose and style.

Below: Summer 2001 - in the workshop at the sculpting stage of a private commission for a life-size moose head wall-mount. A large percentage of foam padding was secured to the plywood armature to reduce any surplus weight from the clay mass. Taxidermist's glass moose eyes were used in the clay and in the final cast from the silicone mould.
Left: a base of  aluminium rods, chicken-wire and glassfibre resin in preparation for a thin clay layer for the surface antler detail for the moose. A mirror image  second one had to be made also.
Above left - creating a masking stencil in silicone for the 'Aladdin Sane' 'lightning-bolt'
facial feature.

Above right - a silicone mould with a plaster support jacket.

Left - worktop with typical tools and materials
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PORTRAIT SCULPTURE
Plywood armaturePolystyrene paddingBinding Roughing out with clayAdding featuresFine sculpting work
The six stages here show the  basic plywood armature, polystyrene padding (to take up weight), binding, and clay addition stages.
Body detailLeft side close upFace and hair detail
Rough stageHead-dress bead detailingFull profileFace close upFace profile
SPECIAL FEATURE - ' THE MAKING OF THE ALIEN QUEEN '
SPECIAL FEATURE - ' THE MAKING OF THE ALIEN QUEEN '
THE MAKING OF THE 'KING KONG' 1933 BUST
THE MAKING OF THE 'KING KONG' 1933 BUST
SPECIAL FEATURE - ' THE MAKING OF THE ALIEN QUEEN '
'Greco-Roman style wall-mounted low relief

Dimensions:
110 cms x 110 cms x  7 cms
Material: clay
(pre-moulding stage - to be cast
into 'ciment-fondu).
Year created: 2010


The clay is within a timber frame
to establish uniform base thickness (upon which the feature is built) and to create a perfect square. The timber is removed prior to moulding to create the 'slab'  A plaster mould was made and a 'ciment-fondu' cast was taken from the mould.

'Ciment-Fondu' is a special cement which is superior to ordinary Portland cement in that it can be used for art purposes and for special heat-resistant ornate applications such as fire surrounds. The finish of this material resembles a curious mixture of bronze and stone and can be rubbed with brass wire brushes and beeswax to impart an exquisite semi-metallic, almost vitrified surface.
Paintwork on the Bowie busts - click on image below