I’m learning why sculptors rarely do their own casting; it takes you too far away from the seminal part of things (i.e., sculpting) for far too long. Lately, sculpture seems to be mostly hurry up and go do something else, which is driving me nuts. In an effort to change that, I’m building myself a new studio…which is also delaying things.

A successful sculptor told me he spends 10 percent of his time sculpting and 90 percent doing the business of being a sculptor and human being, and that’s about right. Most of my clay models take about 10 hours to make but that 90 percent bit drags the final work out by months. And none of the delaying stuff, really, can be dropped:

  1. Dayjob (which pays the mortgage)
  2. Friends and family (more valuable than any of the rest and will NOT be given up)
  3. Working with local arts organizations and supporting other artists by going to their shows (see #2)
  4. Webifying (which not only enables #1 but is delightful way to exercise my sorely misused brain)
  5. The Bullseye conference mid-month (on casting this year and if you think I’m missing that you haven’t been reading this blog)
  6. Doing stuff like taxes and billpaying (which must be done unless I can figure out how to sculpt behind bars)

…and there’s my house, which I once thought was small, cozy and just right for an obsessive collector of art, books, goblets, animation and lord knows what else. Somehow it’s grown to roughly the size of Yankee Stadium and needs almost as much work. I’d let it fall down around my ears except it’d mess up what little resale value is left and the neighbors would probably have me shot.

Which brings me to the latest delay: I finally, thanks to my family, am turning the garage into a gen-u-wine, honest-to-goodness casting studio. Right now my tiny studio is barely large enough to fuse glass, with a single work surface. Unfortunately, casting involves multiple processes that contaminate each other and ruin the work (you can’t get wax in the glass or investment in the wax, for example).

That means that I get to clean my studio between each process, which takes several hours. There were nine separate processes in making May’s test run, for example, and the studio cleanup added a bit more than 40 hours to my schedule. Obviously, that’s gotta stop. I plan to do at least ten of these large portraits and that’s 400 hours just for cleanup.

Gee…it would be awfully easy to simply do the clay model, send it over to LASH and receive a lovely, pristine silicone in return, or maybe even a ready-to-go investment…STOP that.

Anyway, we’re in the process of turning the garage from blacker-hole-than-Calcutta into a bright and airy workspace with separate stations for wax, investment, steamout, unmolding, coldworking, packaging, and other assorted sculpting chores. The inside studio will be for glass, clay and photography ONLY, which should eliminate 38 of those 40 cleanup hours per piece and probably another 3-4 hours per piece spent in shoveling through the mess trying to find something. Between that and my efforts to make this pate de verre stuff more cookbook, I should be able to greatly speed the creation process, allowing me to spend more time actually sculpting (I hope).

Brother-in-law Jerald has kindly wired up banks of fluorescent lights and built a lovely long workbench (isn’t it lovely to have a B-I-L in the construction business?); Mom’s doing a yeoman job of painting everything a gleaming white. I’m cleaning, sorting, reorganizing, building storage units and mold trolleys, in addition to designing bays for four kilns…one of them very large and well-traveled.

I’m also having a lot of fun figuring out how to do this on a tight budget. My first impulse was to simply bring in the garage guys (renovators who create car palaces and dream workshops), tell them what I want and come back to a superstudio three weeks later. Since that was gonna cost $45,000 for the MODEST version, I’m doing this on the cheap, rebuilding stuff I’ve already got and buying as little new as possible.

At some point I’ll post a photo tour of the new studio, talk about stuff I’ve done and get back to finishing May and all the other sculpting I oughta be doing. In the meantime, I’ve gotta stop whining and go build some glasscarts…