Sunday, September 15, 2013

2013 Green Ganesha

Following the tradition of making my own Ganesha idol every year, I started making this year's Ganesha while watching US Open tennis.  I wanted to try something different this year.  I used a different type of clay - gray water based clay, and I used a different modeling technique - subtractive method. 

Clay modeling is generally done using the Additive technique and stone sculpting is generally done using the Subtractive technique.  Additive technique is where you add material to build your model/structure.  Additive techniques are generally seen in modeling, construction or assemblage.  One of the issues with additive clay modeling over a period of days is that the added clay may not be of the same consistency (moisture content) of the final model which invariably leads to cracking.  Cracking is an issue with water based clay.  Oil based clay does not have this problem, but it cannot be air dried.  Oil based clay sculptures have to be baked or else they stay soft and pliable for a very long time.  

Subtractive technique involves starting with a mass of material larger than the finished work, and removal of material to achieve the desired form.  Stone sculpture is inherently subtractive.  As Michelangelo once said 'Every block of stone has a statue inside it.  It is the sculptor's task to free it'.  I decided to try the subtractive process by adding lumps of clay and then finely sculpting/removing the excess material to get the desired result.  One of the advantages of this method is that the complete mass is consistent and helps in reducing cracking.

Clay modeling is messy work.  Make sure that your fingernails are well trimmed and short.  Before starting, dig into a bar of soap to fill soap behind your fingernails and then, once you are done modeling, washing off the clay from your hands and behind the fingernails becomes easy.  Place lots of old newspapers under the work surface to catch all the clay clippings and fine sand.  A spray bottle filled with water helps in making sure that your clay is moist. 

As you can see from the pictures, I used aluminum sculpting wire to support the cantilevered arms and trunk.  Since this year's idol was bigger than the past ones, I was able to sculpt more details into it.  The bigger the piece, the easier it is to sculpt the details.  Since the idol was big enough, I did not have to use any support for the halo (ring behind the crown) or the ears or the shalya draped over Ganesha's shoulders and hanging off the arms.  All of these were made of rolled thin clay sheets. 

I used a variety of clay modeling tools and a few additional things like an old pen, refill (to make fine circle patterns), makeup brush, etc.

All in all, it was a great experience making this year's Ganesha idol.