Notes on the Works
The heads in this show are all made out of very fine Japanese cellulose based clay, which is air-dried. I make a rough casting out of a rubber mold of a generic female head. When the clay is dry and the parts are put back together into a head form, I carve, cut, grind, sand, re-model, and re-shape the face, ears, and sometimes the shape of the head to what I want, using the clay in both a dry and wet state. When the clay is dry and the surface is cleaned up and sanded to a smooth finish, then I paint it, the face especially.
Finally, after sketching the shape of the hairline, and figuring the amount of hair to be used, the holes for the hair plugs are drilled and cleaned out. Meanwhile, the hair has been separated from large tails, or cut from wigs, and made into individual hair nibs, or plugs. These will eventually be inserted into the drilled holes in the head using archival glue. This is close to the last step, and then the hair is cut, shaped, and groomed.
In the case of the three portraits, it is the same process, except that the re-working is toward a specific likeness, which, of course is much more demanding and is usually re-done many times.
Unlike carving a "statue" out of a whole piece of wood or stone, the torsos, arms, and legs are all made separately. The separate pieces have to be fitted together to make a convincing figure in terms of anatomy, pose, and balance.
The 'clothing' is then made directly on the figure. There are no patterns. I work the material right over the torso - clipping, stretching and sometimes shrinking it over the form. It gets finalized and held in place by sewing it together with hand-stitches. Oftentimes the individual parts are 'dressed' separately, like the 'sleeves' that cover the arms, for example. This happens after the pieces have been fitted together, though not attached. After all the parts are covered, everything goes together and is permanently attached. The last step is to hand-sew the remaining seams, and attaching the parts of the cloth surface.
I try very hard to make the 'clothing' in a way that is not like real clothes. I think of the clothes as sculpture, as they are derived from the technology I developed to make my previous hollow-form figural work in bronze. I use fabric that is not made for clothing, like industrial felt, rough hand stitching, and seam lines that are not accurate to real clothing patterns, but rather create formal notations. For example, the use of a straight center seam down the front or back of the figure, an aesthetic choice that is like a surveyor’s plumb line, makes one aware of formal issues, like the balance of the overall composition in the work.