Chopin medallion 1: Day 1
My new project is a medallion with Chopin’s portrait. I will try to document every step for my own benefit and anyone who is interested in trying low relief. The biggest challenge is the sheer size of the medallion and the likeness of course. This is my first take, I’m sure there will be many more. Right now I don’t know what I’m doing, just hoping to learn along the way.
I happened to buy Eduard Lanteri’s excellent book Modelling and Sculpting the Human Figure a while ago, and I was happy to discover it had a whole chapter on modelling coins/medallions. I think I’ll use the book as my art Bible.
I’m very eager and anxious to start, there’s anticipation, hope but also fear of failure. It never gets better.
Here are most of the tools I thought I might need, I even made one myself. The little white tool was made of a piece of galvanized wire and paper mache for handle. Last week I rendered two sketches of Chopin after the painting on the picture, which I deliberately printed small. Lanteri emphasizes the need to simplify wherever possible. The most dominant features should be captured in most part without much detail. I think Chopin has some very strong features on this portrait, features that I like, so hopefully that will help keeping my interest.
I’m using air dry clay. The pencils help with rolling out the clay evenly. The clay is very soft, so I covered it with cling wrap. It won’t stick to the rolling pin. Thickness is about 1/4″ as I don’t know at this point how much the clay will shrink. It seems a bit too thick.
Most coins/medallions are between 2-4 inches in size traditionally. I chose 3 inches. I cut out the shape in paper in advance. I’m using the pin tool to cut out the shape in clay.
This is how it looks. The clay is too soft for the relief, so I left it dry a bit, for about 1/2 hrs.
I draw the basic shape of the design.
The base is still too soft, so I softened the piece for the relief even more, which made it muddy and difficult to place the tiny pieces in just the right spot. Lanteri suggests building up the clay from thin at the edges to thicker in the middle.
Next time I’ll have to remember to let the base dry covered in plastic for a day. It needs to harden a bit more.
An hour later the relief is still too soft to work it, so it has to wait until tomorrow.
See day 2 progress here: