Today was the middle step to completing our first project in Sculpture class. We have been working all month on our Bas-Reliefs in clay and today we reached the end of the clay portion of the project. It was plaster time. We formed our plaster molds, which took up the entire class time, from learning how to make them, to mixing the plaster, to actually pouring it on our sculptures. If you have never worked with plaster, let me tell you firstly that it is quite fun. First we had to mix the plaster for our first coat. We added a bit of pigment to the water so that in the final step, when we have to chisel off the mold from the plaster cast, we will be able to tell the difference between the mold and the cast.
Next we had to add the plaster to the water. Before the plaster is added to water, it is a very fine, almost flour-like, powder. The ratio of water to plaster is 1:1 and one we had met that, it was time to begin stirring. Once the stirring starts, the plaster begins to solidify rather quickly and Dario suggested that we only stir for around 45 seconds or until the plaster was comparable to a “melted ice-cream” consistency. Adam and I shared a bucket of plaster that we had mixed and once we had the right viscosity it was time to pour it onto our clay sculptures. Lets just say that I made a mess, but I wasn’t alone in that category as everyone at least got some liquidy plaster on the tables and the ground. We had to cover our sculpture in a quarter inch of plaster and then wait twenty or so minutes for the first coat to harden before we could begin the second coat.
After twenty minutes, it was time to mix our second batch of plaster. This time we had to stir a bit longer because we wanted the consistency to be a bit thicker, at least that’s what Dario told us. When we had mixed the second batch we had to cover everything yet again. This time it was much less messy because the plaster didn’t drip everywhere. We completed this step rather quickly because we could just take handfuls of the semi-liquid plaster and spread it across our sculpture like we were frosting a cake. We finished with our second layer just as class time was coming to an end so that was all we could do. We cleaned up, scraping the plaster off the tables and the floor and threw all of the chunks in the trash. In the time that it took for us to clean up, our second layer had hardened sufficiently and because the plaster is a chemical reaction, we were surprised that when we laid our hands on top of plaster covered sculptures, they were significantly warm. It was actually pretty wild. We placed our sculptures back on the shelves and now we have to wait until next Monday to do the next step, clay removal, so that we can be sure that the plaster is fully hard. I’ll keep you updated as best I can on the progress of the project. My final design is very different than my picture but I’ll let you imagine what it might be before I put up a final picture. Ciao!