I decided that since this model is so deep and heavy, I would rough hollow the back out, so I got it off the easel and standing vertically on the work bench so I could unscrew the backer board to access the inside.
I probably took out about 35# of clay from the back, it was a bag and a half worth.
With it being lighter I screwed the backer board back on and then laid him down flat so I could unscrew the bottom board to give the bottom a curvature. Once that was done I screwed the bottom board back on so it keeps the side baords stable and the model from sliding down from it’s own weight as I continue working on it.
For scale, the boards are 4-1/2″ wide.
From what I managed to learn, back in the days when these master models were made for building facades this 4″ or so portion of the back of the models were made from Plaster of Paris, and clay was modelled on top of the hard but still wet plaster and a mold made of the whole thing when it was completed. The plaster would have to be fresh/wet or soaked in water if it had been dry, otherwise it wouls suck the water out of the clay like a sponge and there would be some issues with shrinkage.
I’ve never done it that way but I can see how it has advantages, for one it absolutely sets the exact size and shape correctly, and when dealing with 100-150# of clay it is easy to distort the shape when it’s all solid clay, I’ve also not been able to get the perfectly straight sides and nice sharp corners they did by shaping the clay.
I can also see how it worked well to have a few standard forms since they would have to have been made in certain exact standard sizes within a limited range that was used.
I may try the 4-1/2″ deep plaster form on a future model.
I did quite a bit today on this, much of it reducing the cheeks, nose, changes to the eyes that include altering the style of iris, eyebrow changes and I decided to see how adding some hair under the hat will work figuring with so much of a beard he would have a lot of hair as well.
Think I’m liking it better now with these test changes.