Cristiano Di Martino | Part 1 | The Making of: Studio per una Natura Morta

Cadogan Contemporary
Apr 17, 2018 10:45AM

In the first half of our two part story, discover how Italian artist Cristiano Di Martino created wonderful sculptures of meticulous beauty.

"The journey began with researching plants and flowers from books, the Internet but primarily by walking around the city and botanical gardens looking for leaves and photographing plants and flowers. I would bring back the ‘findings’ from this research to my studio in Camden where selected which elements could use for each sculpture."

Cristiano started off making moulds from selected leaves that could later be used to add texture to the clay leaves. He also dissected the flowers to study and break down their structure in order to realistically reproduce their look in polymer clay, metal wire and other types of modeling putty.

The flowers and leafy plants in the sculptures are hand modeled with different kinds of polymer clays - each selected for their individual proprieties. Most of these modeling clays are high quality materials available only in USA and Japan, but Cristiano also utilized more common types of polymer clay sold in all art shops. "The stems and branches are made of metal wires wrapped in pvc tapes commonly used by plumbers, I enjoy the process of sourcing suitable materials from outside their originally intended use."

Each flower consists of individually crafted petals, made up of two types of clay. The centerpiece of the chrysanthemum is a more fragile type of material but provides a perfect medium for the intricate detail needed. Polymer clay is fired at a comparatively low temperature when compared to more traditional ceramics. Bigger petals are made of a more flexible and robust type of clay that air-dries over time.

Each flower is made of more then 2000 petals, which means that the bigger Studio per una Natura Morta is made of nearly 7000 different hand made parts in it’s totality.

The leaves are also individually hand modelled. Once dry each piece is re-carved and sanded down. "The only cast elements of the works are the insects, which I buy from Japan where this kind of life-cast nature miniatures are readily available. Since the insects are in a display laid down position I later customise them by cutting, repositioning and reattaching their legs to give a more realistic sense of motion, I then finish them by sanding and painting them to maintain continuity with the rest of the work."

The sculpture’s plinth/base is made of a pourable water based plaster resin, which is water-resistant and very durable. It locks in every single branch into a single strong piece and therefore strengthens and stabilizes the work.

Cadogan Contemporary