Friday, March 29, 2013

Sati the Elephant nears completion.

This summer has been exceptional for out door elephant making. Every weekend I've been able to crack on with large scale, very messy processes without having to think about shelter from anything other than too much sun!




Sati is now a uniform gray all over.

Good Friday saw the last application of plaster render applied in a continuous coat over Sati's entire body. I've mixed eight batches of plaster distributed by mortar board and steel trowel and laid off with a synthetic brush.

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

photo courtesy of Clive Franks

Sati is a very awkward shape for plastering with a flat trowel so there is a ridiculous amount of fiddly swiping to manipulate the paster over the undulations of her huge body, particularly underneath, around her legs and genital area! That makes a total of 100 kg of plaster applied over a 6 week period.


Now, to tidy up the driveway.

Once the plaster reached a semi cured state I was able to trace lines and creases into her skin with a sculpting tool, followed by a final dry brush over to remove the particles displaced by the tool.

By the end of the day my arm was ready to fall off! Tendons were complaining and much deep heat was applied to ease the pain.
Toenails await highlights.

I've undertaken some research on the merits of various finishing systems for plaster render when I stumbled upon a scholarly review on the use of boiled linseed oil on cementous surfaces.  It seems that boiled oil thinned with equal quantities of mineral turpentine do an excellent job of penetrating and sealing a plaster rendered finish. The Romans used it too for the same purpose. I'm happy enough with the test results from the report to have enough confidence to go ahead and try two coats of boiled linseed oil as a finish coating.
Holly our Abyssinian queen says "Yes I know there's an elephant behind me, so what?"

Boiled oil yellows over time which is the result I want. Plaster has a cool light gray natural colour which is not quite what I want for Sati. I have been colouring the paster around her face, trunk and ears with mineral pigments to mimic the natural skin tones of an Asian female elephant. The tusks and toenails have had the same treatment. All I want now is is a suitably warm amber clear coat mixed with burnt umber to darken and enhance the mineral pigments applied.


Holly gives us a sense of scale, she'll miss Sati when she's gone.



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