Sunday, February 10, 2013

 What’s the SkulpTools Tool Tinkerer up to lately?
I decided to get back to my first love for a while: sculpting. For me it’s kind of a Zen-thing. I get into the zone and don’t want to quit… until my eyes start crossing or my muscles freeze up and complain. It reminds me of why I began to craft sculpting tools in the first place, which I also enjoy doing. I love using those old early prototype tools, which still work just as well as the more handsome new versions. Plus it gives me a great chance to find new ways to use all of them. Sometimes I just can’t decide which is better or more fun – using or making them. I still come up with ideas for new tools as I’m sculpting, although some never make it off the drawing board of my mind – which occasionally may be a good thing. Others progress to the experimental or prototype stages, and some get fabricated and produced to sell [or maybe they don’t]. But it’s all good. I still work to perfect and refine what I make and find solid useful ways to serve the needs of sculptors, making helpful tools they just can’t find elsewhere.

It seems easier for me to come up with tool ideas but is often more of a challenge to decide on something I really want to sculpt. I’m not of the caliber of some sculptors who can create portrait likenesses in clay of most anyone. Although I had some measure of success with the busts of Hemingway and Twain, they each took me months to do, with many re-dos and “face lifts”.
So I thought it would be fun to get back to my favorite style of sculpting, which is character sculpting, because they can be as whimsical as I desire. Plus, with my quirky sense of humor, it gives me an outlet to express some sort of comic “hook” that will make folks smile or even chuckle when they notice it. I must admit that I get a kick of doing that.

I’m also looking for ways to stretch my sculpting abilities, to challenge myself to try new subject types and refine my skills and techniques. It’s strangely both encouraging and a bit troubling to look back on my earlier works and find myself thinking something like, “Yuck! I made THAT?” But then I realize we all have to start somewhere and not many of us can claim to be instant sculpting virtuosos. If our work did not improve and refine over time, I suppose we’d quickly get board and frustrated with ourselves for lack of progress. So in that sense, I guess it’s good to look back on what you used to make, once in a while, just to see how far you’ve progressed.
Having bought my first camcorder a few months ago, I’ve also been making some work-in-progress and tutorial videos and uploaded several to YouTube [Click Here to view them]. I’ve started sculpting a 1/12th scale character-style figure of a sculptor  who's concentrating on making a self portrait bust. My aim is to sort of poke fun at the hubris of myself and other artists. This one required some research to find the best ways to resolve some sculpting challenges, like making my first full-body pose-able armature, sculpting two matching likenesses, sculpting wire-armatured fingers, fashioning wooden props and [I hope] adding synthetic hair – rather than sculpted hair. I’m certain there will be other challenges I haven’t encountered yet though.
I’d like to thank my blog followers and other visitors who have stopped by to read various posts here. It’s still a bit new to me, but it’s fun to write about shared interests in art and sculpting with others. So, thanks to all of you for tuning in.

Monday, February 4, 2013


  What's that tool good for?

I’ve been asked to do some tutorials to show and explain how best to use some of the sculpting tools that I make, and I’d like to begin a series of posts on that subject.
When I set out to make my own sculpting tools I had in mind specific sculpting tasks that needed solutions by way of new shape or sizes of tool tips. But I was also frustrated by the awkward handle types on tools already made. I wondered why no one had improved on those and made it easier to control the tool, and thus, giving better results. If you have browsed my website or my Etsy shop, then you know what the handles of my tools look like.

As for many of the metal tip tools I make, their uses are fairly straightforward for the most part. I make several types of general sculpting “blade” type tools – 3/8” wide and smaller - with smooth edges that can be used by most any sculptor to manipulate their clay to make designs or to fashion a certain form. Some have angled tips and others are straight.
Dual-tipped tools make sense for the sake of economy, both for the artists’ pocketbook and to, in effect, have two tools in your hand at once – for the sake of economy of motion, so to speak. Although I have crafted tip designs that are different, as far as I know, their purposes and uses are fairly universal and familiar.
But there are several tools that I make whose designs are unlike anything I have ever seen. As I sculpted, I would think “If I only had a tool that would do this or that…” and then I would set out to engineer a way to craft a tool to do “this or that”.
The subject of this post is one of those types of tools:

This tool was borne out of my frustration with trying to smooth out inevitable lumps and bumps in my polymer clay. I tried using my finger, rolling a cylindrical tool or rod and using clay shaper silicone tipped tools. But none of them would do what I wanted to do. I thought, “If I only had a tiny sideways brayer, I could get in here and smooth this out real quick.” And so 
the Mini Roller Tool was born!
Several folks who bought them remarked that they don't know how they got along without it for so long!
Here’s a quick 4-minute video tutorial that explains just a few of the situations where this tools shines. I'll bet you can think of lots of other uses for this handy tool!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


  SkulpTools was Published in Art Doll Quarterly Magazine's Spring 2013 Issue

 I'm very excited to announce that award winning art doll artist, Lynn Cartwright reviewed seven SkulpTools and wrote up a modest “blurb” in the February Spring issue of the magazine. [Page 123] They sent me a complimentary copy and I was quite impressed with the way the magazine is made and the caliber of the writing and content. More like a paperback book than a magazine, its pages are high quality paper, the photo work is really top notch and the articles are designed to appeal to the serious art doll creator. This is for sure a publication designed to be kept as a reference piece for many years, rather than be destined for the recycling bin, once read.

One other review is in the works for the summer issue of Polymer Arts magazine and I hope to share more news on that and much more soon.