PORTFOLIO Johanna Carla B.


October 2013 MATERIALS 1 (Introduction to Sculpture) University of the Philippines Diliman


Introduction Plate 0: Found Object “Usbong” Plate 1: Contour Line “Abraham Lincoln” Plate 2a: Shapes in Planes “Fish” (Maquette) Plate 2b: Shapes in Planes “Fish” (Full size) Plate 3: Bas Relief “Vegetable Lamb of Tartary” Plate 4: Freestanding “Vegetable Lamb of Tartary” Plates 5 and 6: Closed and Open Forms Artist's Intention General Process, Preparation, and Tools Documentation Plate 5: Closed Form “The Boat” Plate 6: Open Form “The Wave” Plate 7: Casting “Sleeping Head” Conclusion 1 3 13 17 21 25 36 37 37 40 46 52 60

INTRODUCTION When I sat through day 1 of Materials class, my first surprise was finding out that sculpture was a major part of the UP curriculum, even for Painting students. The second surprise was that we were to create our first sculpture that same day. I had my share of doubts as to the reason behind this, especially in moments of frustration and sleep deprivation in order to meet deadlines. As a student, however, I kept reminding myself to just trust the process and let myself be surprised. It was always a joy to come to class on presentation day, with my work in tow, ready to share the output of weeks worth of dedicated energy and labor. More importantly, I found joy in sharing my creative process out loud – there is merit in verbalizing one's struggles and their attendant solutions: the choices we made, whether big or small, in order to proceed with the work. The greatest joy, however, came from being wowed by my classmates' works and listening to their own processes. There was always so much to be learned during these debriefing moments and I found them essential to the gift of the class: the discovery of one's creative logic. Creativity is indeed problem-solving, and to be bombarded with this task everyday – to keep finding solutions and exploring possibilities – is both a blessing and responsibility that every artist learns to nurture and carry with a smile.

PLATE 0: Found Object “Usbong”

Materials Used Date Finished Process Documentation

: : :

Weeds, GI Wire June 6, 2013 I bound weeds together using dried up roots. I later found GI wire and molded it into a spiral to hold the bunch upright in a cone form.

Textual Documentation


This was my first time to piece together found objects and call the final product “art”. Size was the only constraint – we were to create anything using anything available to us at that moment. I was drawn to the greens around the classroom and thought of using the weeds to create some kind of living sculpture. I didn't realize I was making ephemeral art (art that doesn't last) because of my choice of materials – but I kept the piece anyway and three months later it's still sitting on my desk:


I made it on my first day back as a university student, so it stays with me to remind me of the day I chose to officially plant the seeds of my creative journey and guide (or let others guide) their growth. Lessons learned: • Weeds dry up nicely. • Wire or alambre is a sturdy material with interesting 3D possibilities. I first tried to hold the weeds upright by leaning them against a stand made of wire (like an easel or microphone stand), but the weeds kept toppling over. When I expanded the wire to envelope the weeds in a cone form, it was also an aha moment for me: pwede pala i-occupy yung space paikot niya!


PLATE 1: Contour Line “Abraham Lincoln” The artwork was destroyed on presentation day because of heat inside the vehicle of transport. Photos show the artwork as presented in class, as a work in progress (at 60% completion), and in mock presentational set-up.



Materials Used Date Finished Key words

: : :

3cm toothpick, heat-activated glue June 25, 2013 Characteristics of Line, simulacra, 3D art vs. Sculpture


Process Documentation 1. Building the base.



2. Creating the head and body.


3. Connecting the head/face to the body.


4. Adding the hair. *I wasn't able to take any more pictures of the art work and the process at this point. Pics below were taken before Step 4 and are used to illustrate the rest of the process.


Textual Documentation


It was my first 3D artwork and my mindset the whole time was just to experiment and go with my gut. It was a challenge to think in 360 degrees. My background is in flat art, so I approached this plate from this flat creative process: I built lines and “safe” shapes (i.e. the rectangular base). First step was to get to know the toothpick and what I could do with it. I went by intuition, and researched on toothpick sculptures only after I started to struggle with my support design. This plate gave me a deeper appreciation of sculptural works. Lessons learned: • Get an overall feel of the task, choose a plan of attack and do it. I had no idea how to go about creating a 3D form, so I measured the model and made references in every way possible: taking pictures from all angles, measuring by toothpick, ruler, tape measure. In the end, I relied mostly on the pictures (no measurements) and simplified the forms. I then had to decide how to interpret these simplified forms using the given material, and commit to those choices. • 3D work is not done intuitively. Need to plan or at least think of starting points with specific end goals in mind. • Get to know your materials and their limitations. Adhesive is a material. Heat-activated glue melts in the heat. Protect your art work and document your process as much as possible. • Research works done by others using the same materials. Don't be afraid of “copying” their process. We develop our own process eventually. • Work with the minimum size. I chose to do a 1:1 copy of the model and not the 50% scaled down minimum. I thought it would be easier not to do computations, but didn't realize the demands of a bigger work, especially given that the raw material itself needed preparation time (pre-cut the toothpick). • Be brave and just go for the main work right away – this is usually the most difficult part, such as the face in this case. I took too much time doing “prep work” (i.e. building up the base, playing with the material), mostly because I was scared to attempt anything until it was needed (i.e. deadline was near). Additional Materials, Sketches :

Pictures below show the reference and measuring methods used: In-the-round photos, measuring by toothpicks, measuring tape and ruler.




PLATE 2a: Shapes in Planes “ Fish” (Maquette)


Materials Used Date Finished Key words

: : :

4x2cm illustration board, white glue, heat activated glue July 2, 2013 Representational, Biomorphic, Organic, Planar


Process Documentation



Textual Documentation


This was a simpler plate, and with a more workable material – paper. I decided on two things based on lessons learned from the previous plate: work small, and stick to white glue. I chose a simple animal and just enjoyed the process, again in an exploratory and intuitive approach when it came to the material, but in a more directed/planned approach when it came to creating a 3D form. Lessons learned: • Planning helps flesh out solutions to the given problem: it's important to visualize the final design of a 3D work from the top, side, and front angles. • Planning also helps weed out solutions that don't work. What looks workable on paper won't necessarily translate well using the given material. Trial and error is a healthy mindset to have. Don't be scared to have Plans A, B, C, etc. • Pay attention to instructions and research the keywords given. I started out with the maquette based on a caricature, but should've used a real image for reference. • Investigate if you can use the work to support itself. I made a separate base / stand for the fish, but could've just designed fins to hold it upright. Additional Materials, Sketches :


PLATE 2b: Shapes into Planes “Fish” (Full size)


Materials Used Date Finished Key words

: : :

4x4cm illustration board, white glue, heat activated glue July 11, 2013 Representational, Biomorphic, Organic, Planar


Process Documentation



Textual Documentation


Creating the second step of this plate was challenging because of the size – finding the physical workspace and physically balancing the work-in-progress took getting used to. I enjoyed making the zigzag, biomorphic patterns for the scales, and the decision to build up the body organically (as opposed to using a “box” structure as a base) made it easier to achieve the softness of a fish. It became difficult, though, to give the body volume. Lessons learned: • Additional Materials, Sketches :

Reference photo


PLATE 3: Bas Relief “Vegetable Lamb of Tartary”

Materials Used Date Finished Key words

: : :

GI wire gauge 18 July 30, 2013 Relief, symbolism, anthropomorphic


Process Documentation



Textual Documentation


I really enjoyed this plate! The subject matter was close to my heart, as I love plants. The idea of a zoophyte was also new and wonderfully bizarre to me – imagine a symbiotic plant-animal that fed on itself (and also killed itself in the process). Creating this myth of the cotton plant was my first time to use GI wires, and I found the material pleasantly workable. I'm also more at home with flat and pictorial art so this plate was like playtime for me. Lessons learned: • Planning really works! This was the first time I did a detailed scale of a drawing and it made the process much simpler and enjoyable. Additional Materials, Sketches :

Reference photos



PLATE 4: Freestanding “Vegetable Lamb of Tartary”


Materials Used Date Finished Key words

: : :

GI wire gauge 18, 16, 22 August 20, 2013 Open and Closed forms, Volumetric, Spatiality (Phenomenology: Ponty, Heidegger)


Process Documentation : 1. Building the plant base or stem.


2. Adding the leaves to the stem.


3. Creating the lamb frame.


4. Giving form to the lamb's body.


5. Adding the lamb head and tail.


6. Making cotton blossoms inspired by ikebana.


7. Finishing touches: steadying the main plant stem and assembling the work.


Textual Documentation


Being able to use 3 different wire gauges was central to this plate. I took my time making my 3D lamb because, simply put, I wanted to make it pretty (and pretty enough to put on display!). First word that comes to mind when I see the lamb is “cute”, so my personal objective was achieved. I was also so happy with the cotton blossoms that I made extras for my own use as wire flowers. They're on my work desk next to my weed sculpture. Lessons learned: • It's so important to enjoy the creative process. I enjoyed making the coils for the main body, so I came back to it every time I was stuck with a difficult or uninspiring part of the work. • Budget your time properly. Although I enjoyed making the coils, they were time-consuming and I underestimated the time needed to complete the coil surface for a 3D lamb. I didn't get to meet the deadline for this plate because of this. Additional Materials, Sketches :


Reference photos


PLATE 5: Closed Form “The Boat” & PLATE 6: Open Form “The Wave”

Medium Used Date Finished Keywords

: : :

Plaster of Paris September 19, 2013
Closed/Open Forms, Personal, Subtractive, Representational


Artist's Intention


My personal keyword for the two plaster plates (open and closed forms) was flow. Now that I'm in my 30s, life is simpler and it's become my mantra to just flow and let flow. Everything passes – whether good or bad – and to accept this in every situation – career, relationships, health – allows for happier everydays. Water best embodies this fluidity, so I chose two subjects related to water. “The Wave” I've always been drawn to the sea – its vastness and rhythm, and sense of both danger and calm. There is a reassurance in the never ending cycle of waves. It awakens and also quiets. “The Boat” It's floating, but still creates ripples. Even in moments of stillness, we are in motion; we flow. The boat has also been a recurring motif in my dreams, since I was a child. I've learned that universally it also connotes flow, a constant journeying. We are just passing through. I also set the boat on “still” water that ripples, to remind us that even in moments of stillness (which are equally important), we are still flowing. General Process :

I worked with both plates simultaneously, alternating between one and the other until I felt satisfied or tired or both. The prescribed method for sculpting these two plates was the subtractive method, so I had to prepare two square/rectangle blocks of plaster before starting to carve.


General Preparation


Materials used: • • • 1.6 sacks of Plaster of Paris (about 40 kilos) pail and dipper or “tabo” 2 cardboard molds: 25x25x25 cm, pre-lined with petroleum jelly (releasing agent)

1. I mixed water and plaster: ½ pail of water to approximately 12 tabo of plaster. Poured plaster in the pail slowly, only stirring once all the plaster is in the pail. Tip: There's enough plaster in once it forms a “volcano” on the water surface. 2. I began stirring in one direction until the mixture started to thicken. Test: pull your hand out – it should be fully covered with white liquid that drips only slightly. I made sure mixture was even, with no lumps or bubbles. 3. Once thick enough, I poured the mixture into my box molds, which have been pre-lined with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. 4. I let it set: the plaster heated up and hardened within minutes. 5. Since my mold was big, I needed to add a second batch of plaster. I scratched or marked the surface to make sure the new layer would adhere to the first layer.


General Tools used


• • • • • •

assorted wood carving tools brush for cleaning lazy susan/rotator – a must for in-the-round works! surgical gloves old shower curtain – to keep the floor of work area free from plaster stains sandpaper, cloth


PLATE 5: Closed Form “The Boat”


Process Documentation


1. Carving the general diamond shape of the boat. I drew the shape on top of the plaster block and chipped off the outer parts.



Adding in “folds” and “creases”. I researched different boat types to meet the 25x25x25cm size requirement for the plate, and ended up choosing to make a paper boat. I slightly exaggerated the ends to almost be as tall as the sail. I kept an actual paper boat nearby for reference, especially for the folds and creases.



Carving the “pyramid” sail and inside folds.



Add the ripples and pebbles.


Textual Documentation


I chose a paper boat thinking it was simpler to make than an actual sailboat. The clean, geometric lines it needed were actually tough to get right! Still, it was an enjoyable project and very likely something I will repeat or explore further. Lessons learned: • • • Get a 3D model for reference if possible. It takes away the need to imagine the goal/subject from different angles, which is what usually happens when using only a photo reference. Patience is indeed a virtue! Do not complicate. Simple lines are sometimes all that's needed. :

Additional Materials, Sketches

Reference photos


PLATE 6: Open Form “The Wave”


Process Documentation


1. Carving the general exterior form: horizontal barrel. I overestimated the mold I made for this plaster block and ended up with a rectangle as opposed to a square/cube, so I decided to elongate the form by creating a barrel wave. That meant chopping off huge chunks of plaster on both lengths (front and back).


2. Carving out the insides. To come up with the C shape of the barrel, I then carved out the inside of the wave. This was trickier than chopping off exterior chunks, and I experimented with different ways of using the tools against the plaster: pounding downwards and sideways, scraping in a curved motion, push-and-pull. I was glad I had the 1” long-necked carving tool which made the deeper areas easier to reach.


3. Adding the wave grooves inside and tapering the outer bottom of the wave. I worked on the details of the wave, firstly on the the inner grooves. I carved these out and filled them back in (using the soft, mushy plaster shavings), going back and forth several times until I got the right degree of depth. I then shaped the lower exterior of the wave where it met the sea surface. It was tricky to get the C shape on the length of the back (it needed strong pressure, but also gentle so maintain the curve), so I decided to postpone chopping off the front arch until I was happy with the general form of the wave.


4. Finalizing forms and adding foam. I chopped off the support post to finalize the C shape of the wave. Added foam to the tips of the waves on top and at the circling end. I smoothened out bumps and made undulating lines on the water surface.

Textual Documentation


My guiding meditation while carving both plates was Michelangelo's famous line: “I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.” It was such a joy working with plaster for the first time. Admittedly it required some muscle work, especially to chop off big areas, but just playing with the different tools and their effects on the plaster made me feel like a kid with a new toy. The barrel shape was simple enough for a first attempt; it was more a matter of keeping things clean

and sleek. This meant a lot of sanding and using soft pressure on the plaster with the curved chisel. I would have preferred to thin out the wave wall some more, but was unsure the plaster would hold. Lessons learned: • Plaster is strong! • Get the mix right to prevent air pockets in the harneded block. • Don't be scared to over-subtract. • Holes can be patched up. • Go for the main areas asap. Don't dillydally with the easy parts or depend too much on reference photos. Additional Materials, Sketches :


PLATE 7: Casting “Sleeping Head”


Materials Used


Plaster of Paris, plaster bandage, cheesecloth, clay, petroleum jelly (for the face, also as a releasing agent for the cast), pail/basin October 10, 2013 Plaster bandage technique, waste mold

Date Finished Key words

: :


Process Documentation


For this plate, I worked with a partner, Christine Sioco, who prepared the mold of my face. Once the mold was dry, I made a cast of my face from it. 1. Making the mold. First step was to prepare the face by applying liberal amounts of petroleum jelly. I also put on a garbage bag as a poncho to protect my clothes from getting wet and dirty with plaster. The mold was then constructed in layers, as follows: • Layers 1 and 2 : Plaster bandage dipped in water. These were pre-cut into 3 lengths; medium and small ones were used for curves and crevices (I used more of the long ones). It was critical to squeeze out the bandage once wet in order to spread the plaster, and again squeeze or even out upon placement on the face. • Layer 3 and 4 : Cheesecloth dipped in plaster mix to hold the plaster bandage together. • Layer 5 : Pure plaster mix to further reinforce the mold. The plaster dried up quickly, so I had to mix two batches to properly cover the face. Tip for next time: either work faster or ask another person to help out.


Working alone on Christine's face, it took me about half an hour to complete all the layers and another 10-15 minutes to let the final plaster layer dry before it was lifted off the face.


2. Casting my face. I cleaned the mold with a fine brush and filled in pot holes and marks, including the nostril holes, using clay. I then lined the rest of the mold with a releasing agent (petroleum jelly). I slowly poured plaster mix into the mold, swirling the mold the whole time in order to distribute the coating. I wanted to add another layer of plaster mix so I made scratches on the first layer before the plaster hardened.


Once the plaster was set, I pulled away the mold, starting at the sides. I wanted to preserve it so I could do multiple castings, but I still had to cut the neck part in order to ease out the face cast slowly.

I did the first casting at night and left it to dry until morning. I was happy that it didn't have holes but I didn't like the rough finish caused by bandage marks. I sanded it with high grit sandpaper, which unfortunately also left line marks – so I used my fingers and smooth paper instead. I wanted to even out the surface some more so tried to add a layer of slip. I placed the work on a tray and poured a diluted mixture of plaster over it – bad idea! It gathered around the eyes and other deep areas of the face and took away details, so I hosed it down and decided at that point that the first casting was done. Was time to leave it alone.


I intended to compose the face in a sleeping position, so I looked for a block of wood to rest it on. I applied a layer of slip on the wood, which ended up looking like a white chocolate-covered block

of cake! The mold was also still alive, so I did a second casting, this time attaching a GI wire at the back so I could hang it.

Textual Documentation


From watching the demonstration, the molding process seemed simple enough to follow, and it was. Some classmates were worried about getting claustrophobia, but my main concern was getting allergies from the plaster. Was glad for no reactions, save for facial hairs getting pulled out with the mold (instant mud spa!). Casting was a bit trickier because I wanted to make multiple castings and defy the one-use feature of a waste mold. I should've put more plaster in the neck area – my first attempt was too thin and gave me no choice but to destroy the neck part of the mold.

Lessons learned: • • Reinforcing the mold with cheesecloth works! More cheesecloth layers would strengthen the mold and maybe allow for more castings. Future experiment: try making a papier mache mold based on the plaster mold, then seal with emulsion. Use this to create multiple casts, or even more molds.


CONCLUSION Working with three-dimensional forms has opened me up to the world of in-the-round – appreciating art from different viewpoints. This is a vital mindset to cultivate as an artist, even if one decides to pursue the path of flat or decorative art, because it reminds us to always think of the viewer or receiver of our art: they are varied and their interpretation of our art is always based on their context. Documentation and presentation are also vital lessons learned this first semester, and I hope to develop them as healthy habits in the creative process.


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