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 Author: Patrick T. Ryan    Posted: Feb. 28, 2004   This Page Viewed: 2,946  

Statue Making - Part II
by Patrick T. Ryan

You may have guessed that Odin is there in this next image. It represents him just after sacrificing his eye to the Well of Mimir, which he did after his ordeal on Yggdrasil, hence the bleeding eye socket, and the bloody and dripping runes. He's about 7.5 inches high. If I had made him out of solid clay, he would have required quite a bit more clay then I ended up using. Plus, he might not have been all that durable if he was solid material. I used a wire support in him. Remember that I mentioned such things as armatures and wiring? You can get such wiring in the same section as you'd find real and artificial clays, in your art supply store. Don't get the smallest size of wire. It's just about useless for real support. Get something thicker. You'll need one or two pliers to work it properly, though.

Now, for the support, you don't need anything that could be termed anatomically correct! After all, it's going to be covered up by the clay. The wiring could look like an ugly and haphazard mess, as long as it supports the clay that covers it. You can see up into Odin in the picture below. I made a simple flattened cone. It was an easy matter of hanging the face, draping the cloak on the cone, and smoothing a beard on the face. This was actually the easiest figurine that I've made so far. By the by, follow my example and make these figurines into full talismanic objects, as you would anything used on your altar and in your rituals.

At your right is my Disir figurine, about 8.5 inches tall. This illustrates two important lessons. She is my second attempt at making a representation of my ancient Disir. My first one? I bent together a full and strong wire framework, and then draped it in a covering of clay, and proceeded to try and work a proper Disir out of it. But she ended up looking rather... inelegant, to say the least! However, I made the wiring so strong that I could not reshape the figure much at all. So I angrily unraveled the clay off the figure, and proceeded to try again. That is one lesson; don't be afraid to go back to the very beginning. The other lesson? If complex and involved does not work, go with simple. On my second attempt I went out on what I thought was a limb, and shaped the figure first. When it was just about done, and ready for curing, I knew that it would certainly need a support, as the poor woman was leaning forward like she was blitzed on mead! All I had to do was insert one single wire up the middle from the bottom of the base. That's all it took. As the arms are connected to the body at their hands, I needed no wiring in them for support. This may be all you need to do, especially if the figure that you make does not stand on legs, but has a solid dress or skirt, as does the Disir to the left. The spear, by the way, is a separate piece, that neatly goes through the crook of the left arm into a hole in the base. It's just a wire with clay wrapped around it. Having the spear as a separate piece made it much easier to paint.

A word of warning about using wire supports. Make sure that the ends of the wires are at least 1/4 of an inch into the material. These artificial clays tend to shrink a little after curing and cooling. The wire's end could wind up sticking out beyond the bottom of the statue.

Now we come to the Big Guy. Now comes the Thunderer! Now strides in the Great Warder! Yet, he teaches us not the lesson that many of us would think he would. His is not the lesson of destroying and starting over. Nor is it the lesson of going on, doing only and just what you stubbornly set out to accomplish.

Thor is a full 10.25 inches tall. The arms hang away from the body, and he stands on two legs, without extra support. So you bet that he needed a full "skeleton" of wire. I needed to have the body's wiring connect to the wiring that's under the base, as Thor would just keel over otherwise.

He was planned to simply be standing with his feet showing, on solid ground. So there I was, draping the clay "flesh" on, when I checked my progress. Hmm... A bit of a miscalculation in the proportions there... If Thor was going to have feet at the bottom of those legs, his arms would be just a little too long for his body. Thor is supposed to be a big strong guy, but I didn't want him looking like Mighty Joe Young! Start over? AWWW! I didn't wanna do that! Make the arms shorter? Yeah... It would mean wrestling with them to put the elbow bends in at the proper places... Then it dawned on me: that's not solid ground he's on, it's clouds and rain. And he's not walking on them; he's rising out of and wading through them, hence the seemingly short legs and no feet. Damn! That worked out nice! I don't know that I've ever seen Thor pictured in such a fashion.

So there you have the lesson. You just may find that your figure is not turning out as you had it pictured. Try going with it. Try reshaping your expectations.

Accessories make the deity. From left; Frigga with her distaff, spindle, and torque; Hella with a skull; Freya with the Brisingamen.

So why not outfit your statues with the deities' talismans and power objects? I dunno... Why not?! I like to make the objects as separate pieces. That makes transportation a lot easier and less hazardous. If you have some kind of whachamajiggee as an integral part of your statue, sticking out and away from the figure, it could be broken off in transport. And wouldn't that be an awful shame? Yes, actually it would be an awful shame... Having the talismans as separate pieces also gives you some flexibility with placement upon an altar or other surface.

Hella's skull is an exception. It was actually something I got the inspiration for while in "mid-sculpt." As it is fairly small and roundish, I saw no reason not to just anchor it into Hella's lap with a piece of wire coming out of the skull's base.

Try to do a little research into those talismans of the deities that the books and online articles mention. Frigga is always associated with a distaff; the tool that was used to spin material for clothing from raw material like wool. But most people would use a spindle to wrap the yarn and thread around once it was pulled from the distaff and shaped with the hand and fingers. So I gave the Frigga statue a spindle in addition to the distaff.

Having a talisman separate from the statue can mean the chance to accentuate it and its qualities. Freya is always associated with the Brisingamen, called either a necklace or girdle. It symbolizes her control over the elements and forces of nature. I decided to make it as a separate hoop, to call attention to its importance.

Together again for the first time. Tyr to the left, Ullr to the right.

Meditate on the deity for whom you are making an image. You might get some surprising results. Tyr is an example of that. I started off giving him a color scheme very much like Thor on page four. I decided to try and meditate on him and upon the rune that he is associated with, the teiwaz rune. I restarted his paint job. He turned out differently, with a starker appearance, than he would have had with the first color scheme I planned for him.

I meditated on Ullr and on the rune that he is associated with, the eihwaz rune, before I started on his statue. He turned out looking like a cross between a mummy and an evergreen! That does make some "sense," as he is associated with the yew tree, an evergreen. He is the most non-human of my statues. So why not? The deities aren't human, after all. The deities are... Okay, so I'm not going to attempt a definition! Ullr is another example of having a separate talisman. He is associated with the bow and with the eihwaz rune. I combined them into a bow that looks like a curved eihwaz rune.

Do try and give your figures a nice paint job. It can really add a lot. You'll have to be careful, and you'll have to go back over areas already painted before to touch things up, but you can do it. Try to paint with colors directly from the tube, as that will make things much easier. You won't have to try and recreate a color blend for the inevitable touch ups.

An example of what a paint job can do is seen with the view of Freya at right. She is supposed to have a cloak of falcon feathers that enable her to fly. The statue's paint scheme is modeled after an American kestrel's feather pattern. You wouldn't know that if I hadn't painted her. All you'd see in the plain material is a bunch of crisscrossing lines.

There's one final tip; about making a good Caucasoid flesh tone. I don't know about other flesh tones, but a basic Caucasoid tone can be tough to mix together. I wasted a lot of paint, just to wind up with a gray and muddy mess. I hit on a good and simple blend, though, when I found "light portrait pink" in some acrylic paint lines. Acrylic paint, by the way, is the only paint recommended for these artificial clays. Light portrait pink is not good by itself; unless you want your statue looking like it has a 1st degree sunburn or high blood pressure! Well, actually, Freya does have that color straight from the tube. As a deity of life and organic process, I thought it suited her. But for others, add a dab of green to the pink. The green will act to tone down the pink, giving you a nice Caucasoid flesh tone.

(Continued... Click HERE for Part III)

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