Sculpting with Chavant NSP Clay

    Sculpting with Chavant NSP Clay
    Sculpting with Chavant NSP Clay

    Sunday, November 4, 2018 :: Here is an overview of how you can exploit the characteristics of NSP clay to work a little more quickly, and achieve some interesting results.


    I’d like to share with you some techniques for working with non sulfurated plasticine clay. It doesn't have sulfur. So “NSP”, the S stands for sulfur. The whole idea is that you want to avoid sulphur being a part of your working process because it's a chemical that doesn't cooperate very well with silicone.

    Section 1: Clay Press

    One technique is making a clay press. This is an example of taking a silicone negative and dumping some molten clay into a mold and brushing it around. You can get all kinds of details out of the mold. Since it's kind of waxy, the thinner parts cool relatively quickly. You can keep dumping molten clay and building up thick layers of of clay to get a rather thick clay wall. Don't use a good brush, by the way. Use one of those cheap $1 brushes that you get at the hardware store. They call them “chip brushes”. You can sort of pile in a good portion of clay and then just slush it around. This is called a “slush mold”. So you're sloshing around the material until it starts to cool and thicken and then you'll have enough that's cooled, so that you can pull it out of your mold. Then you’ll have your clay press.

    Section 2: Blocked in Sculpture

    So what I’ve done here is I’ve sculpted together a couple of likenesses of using this clay press idea. Making a sculpture of this Janus idea. This is the Roman god that has two faces on either side of one head. Throughout this process, you'll notice that there's a lot of heating up of the clay and shaping it with heat. But once it cools then it carves really well so you can use a lot of carving tools. A good idea is to put a sculpture on a lazy-susan. So you screw a lazy-susan into a base of some kind. Then you can turn your sculpture around really quickly.

    Section 3: Lazy-Susan

    This is a stand for making sculpture. It's a board that I found lying around. This is a lazy-susan. It's a pretty good-sized one. You can get these at the hardware store. You basically just screw these to the bottom of the board and it'll move around. It's a good idea to seal the end-grain with the polyurethane or product called the polycrylic. Polycrylic is a water-based sealer. Sealing the board will help to keep it from warping. You can see there’s a slight warpage there. If the board warps after you attach the lazy-susan then the thing could be misaligned and the mechanisms could have some difficulty moving. Having one of these makes it very easy to move your sculpture around. It's also good after you have your sculpture on here, you can do some mold making. If your piece is on here and you're trying to make a mold of your sculpture, having this on a lazy Susan helps to rotate your piece and it's a lot easier to work with. So it’s very helpful.

    Section 4: Structural Aspects of NSP Clay

    This is the part where I thought the neck wasn't really looking so good. I tried to chop out a large portion of the neck. I realized that since I made the sculpture hollow that I created a large hole that I had to deal with. One of the advantages here was that since the clay can be built up structurally, you can build walls with it and it'll retain its structure pretty well.

    Section 5: Why Crosshatching?

    Right now, I'm raking down the sculpture to try and make everything a little bit more rounded looking in appearance. So, the best way to sculpt with this material is to sculpt everything to look like you shaved it down with the fork. Some people actually use forks to sculpt with this material. I have these these finger covers that I bought from Amazon. I think you can also get them at Staples or an office supply store. When your sculpting with warm plasticine you immediately have this rounded sort of scraped over look. The whole point of scraping down the sculpture is that you’re cross hatching as you go. The importance of cross-hatching is that you get more of a biological or a smoother look as you work your way up to the final details. There I was using a heat gun to try and melt down some areas that needed to be reworked. This clay works very well if you if you heat it up. In the background, I have a toaster oven, a microwave and I'm also using a heat gun. So if I want to heat the clay up really quickly I'll use the microwave. But then I also have a pile of clay going in a toaster oven on the warm setting. I'm always keeping it kind of warm because I want the ability to model on some clay so that I can work with it immediately.

    Section 6: Other Aspects

    In a few spots I'm starting to work in some detail. If a piece of clay is been sitting on the model for a while, it's cooled off and I need it to be pliable again, then I'll take the heat gun and I'll blast it with a heat gun. What's Happening here is I'm interested in changing the structure of the face. I wanted to give the sculpture a Quasimodo appearance. What that basically means is I wanted to take the eye socket and move it down a little bit. I wanted to get the motion of the sculpture to sway a little bit from one side of the head to the next. I thought I would give it an eerie quality. What I did was I just cut out that part of the eye and I wanted to see what would happen if I just moved it down. You can see that the beauty of this clay is that you can cut out a portion of the sculpture and then displace it a little bit and then resculpt it. It's example of how versatile this material is. So I'm rotating it a little bit to give you an idea of how this can have an impact on your design.

    Section 7: Sculpture Tools

    You'll notice that I use homemade tools. I'll make a lot of my own tools. One of the tools that I make is made from scrub brushes and ballpoint pens. I took apart a ballpoint pen then I fill the empty spaces with brushes from from a scrub brush. So you know, you go to the hardware store or wherever you are and you might think “that might make a good tool for this or a good tool for that” and that's how artists think and that's how you get different results.

    Section 8: Details and Texture

    Here I'm showing you a little bit about heating up the sculpture and then using that crazy wire brush to add some texture. I was interested in the Boris Karloff “mummy” makeup. I think Jack Pierce did that. The idea here is that I'm trying to just give it sort of a crepe paper texture and so I rough it a lot and then I gradually start to make the wrinkles a little more defined with more and more subtle brushings of lighter and lighter brushes. Spraying with that denatured alcohol is kind of helpful there. I added a hexagonal shape at the bottom. One of my ideas was that I was thinking I might make many castings of this sculpture and make sort of a Buckminster Fuller, “buckyball” out of these castings. A “buckyball” is kind of like a soccer ball. These are some of the ways I use this clay. You can research other sculptors that the use this material. it's a great material and you should check it out. It's called Chavant NSP.

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    Tom Estlack | E-Newsletter SignUp Subscribe

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