This clay maquette is for a sculpture whose final size is about 3 feet tall. The work has undergone two iterations to get to this point. The idea was first worked out in a clay with a model in the studio. I created a maquette about 6 inches high. Later I added the cat’s head and cast the sculpture in plaster.

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Sitting cat sculpture maquette, plaster, 6 in. high

This was the initial idea and since I liked it I decided to develop it further. I could see that the right leg was too small and I needed to add more details in the body.

Sitting cat contemporary sculpture

Sitting cat sculpture maquette, clay, 12 in. high

The next step was to sculpt the figure in clay about 12 inches high. You can see that the volume of the right leg has been increased and all the proportions of the body worked out.

This is the final version of the sculpture which is now ready to cast into plaster. The plaster cast will be used as the basis for enlarging the 3-foot sculpture.

Creating the Plaster Cast

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The first step in creating a plaster cast is to insert metal shims to divide the sculpture into two parts.

cat-person-sculpture-in-mold-ellen-scobie After plaster is poured onto one half of the sculpture, it is allowed to harden and then the shims are removed. The sculpture is turned over and plaster is poured onto the other half.

cat-person-sculpture-in-mold-ellen-scobie-sculpture When the plaster has set, the mold is pried open and the clay scraped out. I try to keep the clay moist all through creating the sculpture as it is much easier to remove at this stage.

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The mold needs to be cleaned thoroughly and any small holes repaired with clay. I use steel wool to polish the inside of the mold for a smooth finish. Vaseline is painted on the edges where the two halves of the mold meet each other and we use ordinary dish soap on the rest of the mold. This will help the plaster cast release easier from the mold once poured.

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As soon as the mold feels warm to the touch I begin to demold. A chisel is used to break apart the mold to release the plaster cast inside. I love this photo of the cat-person sculpture being born!

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The plaster cast needs a little bit of finishing. Here I am sanding the surface to get rid of any imperfections.

The 12 inch plaster maquette is finished! All the decisions about form and volume have been worked out and the essence of the sculpture determined. I worked a lot on the face to capture the calm, serene expression I wanted. I also wanted the body to be relaxed and quiet yet still powerful.