Saturday, April 26, 2008

March 26, 2008 - Sacagawea Part 1 - A new start, the end of another project

Well This morning I decided that Down from the High Lonesome was going south fast. So rather than spend more time on that piece I decided to retire it till another time. I've done this in the past.
You see, a clay has to sing to me, and this one was humming. I'll set it aside till I get interested in it again, if at all. Not everything I create makes it to the end. It's a fact of life as an artist. The vision dies sometimes, and you just pick up and move on.
So let's start a new piece. This one is called, till I can come up with a better title. "Sacagawea's Homecoming".
Sacagawea's name has been spelled various amout of different ways. In the Lewis and Clark journal it was spelled like this...."Sah-ca-gah-we-ah" and also like this..."Sah-kah-gar-wea. That's how it was spelled in 1814. When her journals were first printed, the editor of the journals spelled her name like this Sacajewea. That was how it was spelled for many years. Recently, historians and offical publicians changed the spelling of her name to "Sacagawea." One reason is bacause "Scagawea" is a Hidats name, and since the Hidats gave Sacagawea her name, it is most likly with a "g" an not a "J." Also another reason is because Sacagawea's nickname is "BirdWomen", and sacagawea means "BirdWomem" whereas SacaJawea means "Boarlauncher". we can't have her known as Boarlauncher. If you want to read more about her you can go to this website.
From Lewis's Journal...August 8, 1805
"the Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation ... this hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived remblance of it's figure to the head of that animal "

I live about an hours drive from The Beaver head. The head was blown up by a farmer years ago. He wanted to put through a dirt road. So sadly It don't look like it did in 1805. (picture below is of the Beaver's Head)

I wanted to capture the emotion in the face of Sacagawea as she see's this landmark with the knowledge, that her family was near, after years of being a captive.
I start with a wire frame.

Then I start adding clay...

I outline the shape of the head's profile with rolled clay. This helps me to quickly build up the shape of the head. I also do the same with the sides of the head, to get the width of the head sketched in. Now it's just a mater of adding clay and shaping it.

Once I have the head blocked in, I smooth and shape it. I then draw a line for the center of her face, from the top of the forehead to the chin. I then divid on that line for eye sockets, bottom of the nose and where the lips will be located. You can refer to any book on drawing to find what these measurements are.
I add nose and start the shape of the mouth. I add the cheek bones, or at least the shape.

Now you can see the face is starting to take shape. I'm 2 hours into the clay by now.

Using my Pasta Machine, I roll out clay into thin sheets. Fold it in two and then place it on the head like hair. I'm blocking in the hair this way. Just want to see how it will look. Yes I use a Pasta Machine. I actually use anything that helps me achieve the desired end.

Here is the head with blocked in hair. This is four and a half hours into the piece. After this I take an hour break and go to a gallery opening next door. and smooze.

Now I'm going to show you one of my secrets. I want to make a row of poney beads on her dress. I don't want to use real beads. I could, but why do that, when you can make your own. I get a comb with large gaps between the teeth. Poney beads were pre-1850's out west, and they were large. I roll out a piece of clay into a long string. I then place the comb on the string of clay and press the comb down gently, rolling the comb back and forth till it impresses into the string, gaps between the beads. It's a slick and quick way to make sculpted beads.

Here I'm shown adding the rows of beads to the dress. Kinda cool ain't it?

I add a blanket over her shoulders to see how it will add to the design and after 5 hours, I'm done for the day.

I'll probably finish this piece up tomorrow. It will be my last day at the J. Willott Gallery, then on Monday I pack up the van and head back north to Montana.