October 31, 2010

Eye Candy

Happy Halloween!
I thought I'd share a treat with you. These are all photos I took in Kentucky at this year's Breyerfest. I decided to focus on eyes for this post. I will be posting an eye tutorial soon, so check back again next week! (If you click on a picture, it will open up larger, click it again and it will super size it for lots of close-up detail)

October 10, 2010

Top Ten Not-so-obvious Must-have Very-affordable Tools for the Artist

Top Ten Not-so-obvious, Must-have, Very-affordable Tools for the Artist

By Danielle S. Feldman

I’m a firm believer that no matter whether you’re building a bookcase or creating fine art, you will have a better end product if you start with the right tools. The following is a collection of ten somewhat eclectic and mostly not-so-obvious tools

and supplies that I find essential in my own creation endeavo

rs. I hope that one or two will strike a chord for you and bring your creation making to a new level of satisfaction. And the best part is they’re all affordable.

Here are the supplies mentioned in this article (minus the wire hanger). Hope they work for you!

1. Rubbing Alcohol

This tops off our list as it has two purposes. First, it acts as a smoothing agent for epoxy. Use this instead of water when smoothing out epoxy over a surface and to feather the edge where the epoxy meets the original surface of the model. Be careful not to over saturate the epoxy as it will lose the ability to hold detail and may start to crumble off as it loses the ability to adhere to the original surface. This is especially true of smaller areas, like ears, where you need the epoxy to have the strongest bond possible. The second use for it is with plastic. When used carefully, it will react with the plastic to smooth out, or even out, a rough spot. One example where this might be useful is the side of a hoof, where sanding with an emery board (see #2) has roughened it up and you want to get a smoother surface. You can use a Q Tip to apply a fair amount of rubbing alcohol to just that area. I would recommend rinsing the area with water afterwards to remove any residual alcohol before applying primer.

Where I got mine: the local grocery store in the pharmaceutical department

Cost: $1.59 for the tall bottle, $.87 for the short one

2. Emery Boards

Nothing beats an emery board for shaping hooves. So many plastic models have rounded toes and this just shouldn’t be so! Whether you add epoxy or just reshape the hoof will depend on the model in question, but either way, an emery board is ideal for recreating the proper shape of the hoof. Hold it at the same angle of the hoof wall or matching the plane underneath as if the horse were standing. I would advise using pictures of hooves as reference to yield the most accurate results.

Where I got mine: the local grocery store in the cosmetics department

Cost: $.89 for a pack of 15 count

3. Jeweler’s Visor

The first time I saw this useful tool was at a pastel workshop where a handful of students were wearing them. They look a little like safety goggles, but the lenses are magnified! They even have the ability to change the level of magnification via a little lens that can be flipped down. They can fit over regular glasses as needed and essentially allow you to magnify your work so that you can see details and tiny areas so much better. Who couldn’t use these? I caution not to do an entire model wearing these as you’ll want to step back and see the entire picture from time to time.

Where I got mine: EBay under a search for “jeweler’s visor”

Cost: around $12 with shipping

4. Super Glue & Baking Soda

This idea may not be new to you, but bears mentioning among this group of eclectic items. Regular super glue, not the gel variety, mixed with a bit of baking soda yields a strong substance that generally bonds well with resin and is sandable. Sarah Rose wrote a great article on restoring ear tips using this substance, that can be found on her website at http://rosehorse.com, as well as in RESS’ Technique Booklet 2. It can be dremeled, but do so in a well-ventilated area as it outgases terribly. It can also be used to fill small holes and air bubbles when prepping.

Where I got mine: The local grocery store: Super glue in the hardware dept and baking soda in the baking isle

Cost: Super glue is $2.99 for a pack of 4 single use tubes, which I like since mine always dry out before I get back to using the tube again. Baking soda only $.37

5. Dental Tools

Whether sculpting in a permanent medium, like epoxy, or in a workable medium, like non-hardening clay, a variety of tools are essential. One fairly affordable source of tools with an assortment of tips is dental tools. In addition to picks of different shapes and sizes, you can also find a wide assortment of spatula-type carving instruments. These were created for working with dental wax molds, so why not equine wax, clay or epoxy molds? Grab an assortment and play around with them to discover the different textures and shapes you can create with them.

Where I got mine: EBay by searching for “dental tool”

Cost: Approximately $10 with shipping for a set of 7 new stainless steel tools

6. Airbrush Needle

Now this one may seem like a normal artist’s item, but the way I use it, not so much. I took an already bent (and useless) airbrush needle, bent it into a smooth little hook and use the outside curve to sculpt with. I use this to create hair texture more than anything. It is ideal for creating braids in the mane and tail to keep them tidy and defined.

Where I got mine: Any local or online art store that carries airbrush accessories, http://Dixieart.com is a great site

Cost: $2.99 new

7. Kneaded Eraser

An often forgotten little artist’s tool, is the kneaded eraser. If you ever work with pastels or other dry medium, you’ll find this to be a must-have for cleaning up mistakes and for rendering techniques. I often use mine to remove pastel in dapple-like fashion to reveal the color layer underneath a recent (but not yet sealed) application of pastel dust. It’s also a lifesaver for cleaning up the neck when using pastels to color a mane. Form the eraser into a point and remove the pastel on the neck along the end of the mane.

Where I got mine: The art department of the local hobby store or art supply stores

Cost: $.99

8. Wire Hangers (and Floral Wire)

Here’s another two-purpose item. First, wire hangers serve as great support for broken legs and tails. They are the right diameter for traditional scale legs and are incredibly strong. Find a dremel bit roughly the same size and drill a hole part way into each side of the leg. Use the soda glue technique (see #4) to set the wire in place in both ends and then epoxy the rest of the area, sand smooth and finish as needed.

You can see a piece of coat hanger supporting the part of the mane where it lifts off of the neck.

Wire hangers can also serve as armature wire: whether inserted into a neck to help support flying manes (again, set with soda glue, see #4), inserted into the dock to create a new tail, or to act as the basic form when creating a sculpture from scratch. You’ll want to wrap floral wire around the hanger wire to give your epoxy or clay something to grab on to. Just keep spiraling the floral wire snugly around it until the entire length of the hanger wire is covered.

Where I got mine: The dry cleaner and the florist section of the local hobby store

Cost: Floral wire at $1.99 for 30 gauge, ¼ lb. on a paddle

9. Micro Brush Applicators

These are great for the pastel artist when you just can’t find a Q Tip small enough! There are different brands, different sizes, and different purposes of micro brush applicators. And for the equine artist, they are indispensable. I’m sure there are uses for them with wet mediums, as well as dry. The applicator is essentially a tiny, fuzzy tip on a hand-held, plastic stick. And I just can’t say enough about them!

Where I got mine: Online dental supply company, http://idsdental.stores.yahoo.net/index.html

Cost: 100 count for $5.99 (search for magic brush)

10. Beads or Faux Pearls

Now for this neat little tidbit, I give credit to Gwen Reardon, popular bronze equine artist. In her week-long sculpting clinic, she introduced the use of a bead or faux pearl to use as an eyeball when sculpting. Because it’s hard, sculpting the bony structures and fleshy nuances around the eye are much easier. A clay eyeball just gets squished in the process, but a bead will allow for manipulation of the surrounding area. Just find a bead the approximate size of the eyeball in scale to your sculpture.

Where I got mine: Jewelry making section of the local hobby store

Cost: $1.99 for package of 80 count