noob sculpture. what place do I have...? where to start?

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  1. #1
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    noob sculpture. what place do I have...? where to start?

    Okay, yes, subject line makes it look far mopier than what the content of the post should be. Don't mind that too much?

    Now, I like to design and create stuff, but since my character art that I used to do is almost totally out until I really get over myself (episode of depression, of the proper kind - I was ill for months, and unfortunately it seems that my drawing will be the last thing to get better), I've opted to try sculpting as a way around that! Only... I've ended up trying to sculpt in felt, making anything I might want to make soft, fuzzy, and rather smelly on contact with water. It's also quite time consuming and labour intensive, but I can work on it for hours quite comfortably. I'm even doodling up basic designs to work with, so it's helping my drawing as well!

    Is there a place for, say, creature design with soft, fuzzy materials? It is lightweight, and even though it's a little soft it does hold its shape very well, as it's solid felt right the way through. You can accomplish very organic and flowing shapes with it. You can't really make molds from it though, which I can definitely see as a downside.

    Now, I don't really know where to start studying - what shapes to start working with. At the moment, I'm experimenting with tools and materials, and accomplishing some basic shapes and structures by "doodling" animal faces. I can't see how it is much different from sculpting with clay, in terms of what you get at the end, so what kind of structures do clay sculptors start with when learning? Being broke, it'll have to be either very easily obtainable items, or else good reference material.

    Thanks, guys!

    Last edited by Spudjuice; March 7th, 2010 at 06:30 PM.
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  3. #2
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    It's hard to give you advice without seeing any pictures of what you're doing. When you ask if there's a "place fir creature design with soft, fuzzy materials", I have to ask you exactly what you mean. Since you posted this on this site, and since you use the term 'creature design' I'm initially going to assume you mean the question yo be like this:

    "Is there a place for me as a concept creature designer, working with felt and similar materials?"

    I'm not an industry insider, but my guess is that the answer to that question would be "only if you're really really really good". People who do creature maquettes as concepts for films or computer games usually use clay or sculpey or what have you. AND, they are really really good at it. I think trying to be such an artist, using felt, could be hard.

    But, if you meant the question more like this:

    "Is there a place for me as an artist working with felt, or will everyone think I'm being silly?"

    My guess is that the answer would be more like this: Yes, there is a place. Look at Loveandasandwich. She makes cute plush toys and everyone loves her. (Of course, she is very, very good). I don't mean you have to do cute toys, but you can definitely make meaningful, arty sculptures using soft materials. If you're designs and products are good enough, who knows, you might even make a living selling them.


    But as I said, I'm not an insider, not in the concept art business and not in the fine art or toy business, so this is all my speculations of how things work. Please feel free to upload some images of your work so we can get a better idea of what kind of work you're doing and what you could be doing with them!

    EDIT: Some more thoughts: If you're doing this as some kind of therapeutic thing, just for the love of it, and because it makes you feel good, you shouldn't necessarily be worrying about the greater design of making a living off it or getting hired as a creature designer. If the most important thing this is is dealing with your depression, I'd say just keep doing what feels good for you and helps you get better.

    Also, you mentioned clay and mould-making. Traditionally, clay has been used to make sketches and preparatory works, not finished products. From the finished clay sculpture you either made a mould to cast metal sculptures, or you used them as guides for making a marble version of the work. If scuplting in felt is very time-consuming, maybe you could consider sketching in clay or some other more 'traditional' medium that you can work quicker in, and then doing the finished product in felt. But I don't know, you might feel that felt is your primary mode of expression right now, if so, don't listen to this last paragraph...

    Last edited by Serpian; March 8th, 2010 at 01:45 PM.
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  4. #3
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    Well, it was a little bit of both, I guess! There was a bit of a fear of looking silly, because of what I usually see the craft used for. I was gonna try sculpting with milliput, which is easy to obtain for me and is nicely responsive to water... but I love working with wool and always have some wool top lying around. Felting it is new to me (I usually spin it), but all you need are some barbed industrial needles, haha.

    There was one artist who made me realise it was a maybe, doing some brightly coloured goblins, but the artist who inspired me to just go ahead and buy the needles was Stephanie Metz - her figure and animal studies pretty much wowed me. Most of the felt sculptures I'd seen before looked... I'd say "kitsch" but it doesn't quite meet the definition.

    But there was also the fact I figured clay has certain advantages that felt can't reach, with three coming to mind: clay is faster, you can use texture stamps on it, and you can make molds from it... so it's easy to reproduce. Felt's main advantages are its weight, lack of mess, and natural textures from different kinds of wool.

    I'll be glad to share some pictures when I've got more than just abstract body-bits. Right now, I'm just getting used to the tools and materials, and seeing how much detail I can get from what. After which I may attempt to sculpt a degu...

    ...am I allowed to post sculptures (and preliminary drawings, if I did them with my tablet) in a sketchbook?

    To your edit:

    I love learning new techniques and perfecting them to the best of my ability. The trouble with my drawing is that I get stressed to the point of tearing up (not so much with painting and working with colour, just the drawing and linework), despite the fact I enjoy learning stuff. It's... kind of frustrating, because I used to be able to spend hours at it! Which is what I'm doing with fibrecrafts now, pretty much.

    I'm pretty sure I can speed up the felt by using a multiple needle tool, since that'd help get the insides solid faster.

    Last edited by Spudjuice; March 8th, 2010 at 07:01 PM.
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