30 Day Sculpture Challenge

‘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



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 added clay to the outer bowl and  contoured the top. This would have been improved if the right side was a little higher.


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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:

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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.


Day 3

Non-referential, double bowl with contoured top:


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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

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Well, that is some success.  I lost the double bowl completely.  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.  To be honest, I need to do all 3.


4 thoughts on “30 Day Sculpture Challenge

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