30 Day Sculpture Challenge: Exploring Form, Maquettes 1-10

‘Total rubbish’ is how Tony Cragg describes the majority of the outcomes of his warm-up daily drawing hour.  I’m getting a bit precious about things, so I want to give myself the freedom to make ‘total rubbish’. We have 6 weeks before the Second Year begins, hence I’m setting myself The 30 Day Sculpture Challenge:

Each of the 6 weeks, to make:

  • 4 maquettes in 4 days
  • On the 5th day, make a fifth maquette, developing the ideas in the week’s previous 4 maquettes
  • the remaining 2 days to be used for drawing, and/or life in general

OMG, I didn’t realise 30 Day Challenges were such a big thing until I searched for and image.  Bang on trend!

Day 1

Because I’d found myself unintentionally taking inspiration from the body in my first maquette, I’ve tried referencing a nodule set in sedimentary rock.  In double bowl terms, a convex inner bowl and contoured slab top.


Nodule Concretion


Sketch 1

I should say there’s another rule: once started, have to finish.  I’d have squidged this at the totally lumpen stage otherwise. It was interesting to try ways of adding lift and creating movement around the form. I’d already done the completely unrelated drawing below, so I added clay to the outer bowl and contoured the top. This would have been improved if the right side was a little higher.


Sketch 2


Interpreting the nodule was also interesting. I made the nodule too bowl-like.  it would have created a more interesting shadow if it was more undercut, especially in the lowest section.  And flatten it to be more like the real nodule.


Yes, an improvement.  One down, 29 to go….


Day 2


Concretion and sketch

Continuing the stone theme:


Standing stone with a carbuncle! Really not me, either standing stone or carbuncle. I don’t like crank, either. Difficult to be accurate with all the gritty bits.  May be need to refine later as Halima Cassell seems to manage okay. A bit disappointing, because I like the concave/convex effect of the nodules and the impressing they have made in the stone. I’ll put this on the back burner for now.

Day 3

Non-referential, double bowl with contoured top:



Sort of disappointed to find myself referencing the body again – neck and shoulders clearly defined.  Phallic banana/apple core, too! I don’t know how it happened because I modelled it randomly.  It didn’t become apparent until I saw the photos. Maybe I should try intentionally referencing the body. Something to consider.

Day 4

Back to stones.  I tried to do something with the stone below in May/June, but couldn’t.  ill I be able to make anything of it now?


Rock and sketches


Well, that is some success.  I lost the double bowl completely as the bowl turned into a hole.  Interesting to go with the form and let it find the form it wants to have.  I’ve watched Tony Cragg again since and I understand what he’s doing now.  ‘Understand’ is the wrong word, I’ve experienced and feel what he’s doing.


Plan View

It goes through the most awful lumpen phase, which is when you must find the form. This is something that began on Day 1, was more important on Day 3 and has been a major feature today. Feel it’s too obviously rock-like to be abstract.

Day 5 is the response to what I have learned from these 6 maquettes – the first 2 and the challenge 4. Recap:

  • If I have no conscious referent, I reference the body.  I haven’t yet tried consciously referencing the figure – something to try next week.
  • I’m not keen on crank for small items as it’s difficult to get clean lines – look at refining once leather hard.
  • I don’t want to do standing stones and forms without movement.  In fact, I don’t want to make any recognisable form.
  • Photographing work in progress aids evaluation
  • Referencing rocks/stones has been interesting.  The referent is merely the starting point.  The key is to manipulate the material, play with the concave/convex forms (Sabine Classen) and find the edges to find the form.
  • I’ve discovered that the edges where forms a lesser or greater concavity/convexity meet are important.
  • James Oughtibridge’s method of intersecting shapes creates shadows and interest. Need to look at this more.

What to do for Day 5?  Three courses of action:

  1.  Take no 4, the too-rock-like maquette, and further abstract it. I’ve noted that Jacob Epstein and Ophelia Gordon Bell both made mimetic maquettes before making the finished piece in 1920s Deco style. This would be useful for learning process, which could be applied to any form.
  2. The non-referential pieces are coming together as a family – the original 2 maquettes and no. 3.  They have more commercial appeal. And I can see aspects of the body in them. I can try intentionally referencing the body.
  3. Investigate intersecting forms.

I hadn’t expected the first maquettes to through up such an array of possibilities.

Day 5 (22 08 2017)

It’s been quite a few days since my last maquette – life’s been a tad hectic.  (I’m doing two a day to make up for it)  In the meantime, I’ve done a charcoal figure drawing workshop, the results of which I’ve used for maquettes 5 and 6:


Gesture drawing

I used the above gesture drawing as the body reference for both maquettes.

Maquette 5

Some interesting aspects.  The hole appeared between the arm and body. which was unexpected.  I lost the double bowl completely and soon deviated from the postural reference.  But I didn’t like the result.  I could imagine it very large scale, in  a sculpture park with people walking underneath it. It has some tactile qualities, but aesthetically pleasing as a small object. Overall, consciously referencing the body has been mixed. I’ll try again.

Day 6

A return to a recognisable double bowl, referencing the torso:

Certainly much easier to make than the last one, which is something to consider. I found the previous versions of this form visually simple – one main view point – so I’ve added a facet to introduce more multi-view point interest. They are, however, very tactile, and they would look good in groups. They’re easy for people to understand, non-challenging. Pleasant to make.

Maquette 7

Reflecting on the 8 maquettes already made, I realised that maquette 5 could be improved on by turning it uspide down – or the right way up. It required substantial remodelling and refining:

I’m rather pleased with it.  Scaling it up would require some thought, but it now works well as a small object. Not only that, it can be positioned in two other ways:

As a medium to large scale sculpture this would work well. I like the way it morphs between shell and creature. Making it remains the challenge – something to try!

This is a more refined version of maquette 5.  My least favourite way of displaying it, but it has more lift and defined form than the original version.

There are no ‘mistakes’, only unfinished forms.  A huge lesson from doing these – and the charcoal drawings – is to keep remodelling until it’s ‘right’.

Day 8

Struggled with this one, but I’m not sure why.  I think it’s because the drawings we for mounted works, not free standing.  I had to work it out as I worked, chopping bits off and adding bits on.

A return to the double bowl – with concave outer bowl:

Rough sketches

I quite like the simplicity.  Even though it didn’t feel simple.  Must look at more of this form.

Maquette 9

Going back to Day 2, and the standing stone with convex/concave nodule. I originally thought about putting 2 halves together back in Feb/March, but didn’t try it.  The drawings for these are at uni. The original had a complex interior, based on a Kesseler bean pod. As I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, I simplified it for the first attempt, creating a nodule rather than beans. I found a double layer of cling film is required between the halves to separtate them:

I didn’t want a straight cut, like the Kesseler pod, so experimented with this.  discovered that the line of incision needs to undulate to form two more or less mirror image halves in order for the two sections to stand.  Cutting a more equal curve creates a lid, which might be interesting to try.  Joining the two halves for another go had created a section in the centre, at right angles to the cut,  where sections weren’t joined, and when I ripped the last central section apart, it created a step.  Smoothed out this added to the contour of the cut surface.

For the nodule I made the concavity, making sure there were no undercuts, then used the concavity as a mould for the nodule.

Quite intriguing, like opening a rock and finding a nodule – or a Dudley Bug.  Using the stone/nodule reference to create shapes that open to reveal a rich interior, that can be displayed in many ways, sounds interesting and challenging.  I must take a closer look at Eric Moss’s constructed pieces and wave forms at Ceramic Wales.

Day 10

Okay, what have I learnt from the last 4 maquettes?  Time for evaluation again.

  • I’m comfortable with referencing the body, and I find it easy to abstract from the body
  • I don’t find it as easy to abstract from stones, although I like the forms.
  • Playing and subverting the double bowl form is easy – no external referent to consider.
  • Holes are spontaneously appearing in the inner bowl.  I maybe need to look at holes to use them in a more considered way. Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Halima Cassell, Eva Hild, Merete Rassmussen, Sabine Classen, Mari-Ruth Oda (?).

As I referenced the body for Day 5, I’ll do stones for this ‘challenge’. Focussing on abstracting to a greater degree.

Day 10

Day 10 seems to have taken forever!  I forgot to factor in literature and contextual research, unexpected visitors, car breaking down, Ceramic Wales …..

My research into ‘the hole in sculpture’ has led me to some interesting places – new sculptors Mari-Ruth Oda, Antoine Poncet, and artist Paolo Scheggi. I haven’t yet looked at intersecting forms, identified as an option for Day 5. So, stones are out the window for Day 10, and intersecting forms are in.

I’ve started with the work of Mari-Ruth Oda and Paolo Scheggi:

Mari Ruth Oda, Ceramic (top 2 left)    Paolo Scheggi Perforated Layered Canvas (top right and bottom)

I’ve started with a simple form by Scheggi:

I drew a simplified version on paper, adding the ‘missing’ section, and transfered it to pink card to use as a templates. Ideally, the clay would have been in a suitable former and rolled flat.  Made do with not-so-flat in a rectangular baking dish.

First, I learnt that it is so easy to lose which bit is which, even on a simple form – label them! Okay, try again:


Initially I tended towards flat planes, following Scheggi, but, working with canvas or card, he had no option. So I played with alternatives for a while.  The scale is rather small for this purpose.  I perhaps should be looking at the bigger picture rather than getting into details right now. I next want to explore deeper clay and factoring in the ‘missing’ shape.

Days 11-20

Days 21 – 30



9 thoughts on “30 Day Sculpture Challenge: Exploring Form, Maquettes 1-10

  1. I’m loving your latest work Pam and the recording of the ‘journey’ – (must find another word!)I particularly like the concave/convex nodule within two halves. The reference to the body and it’s movement links right back to your original thoughts when you were looking at portraiture and that wonderful lady you created. Looking forward to getting back to it all after 5 weeks off!

    1. Hi Katie. Hope you are enjoying your holiday. Thank-you for your lovely comments. Ah, the J word. Have to say it’s beginning to feel like a journey of the Grand Tour variety. Apart from being great to see everyone, it will be interesting to see how everyone has moved on. Can’t wait! Are you going to Ceramic Wales?

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