Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sculpting the fan

Lelio Orsi Design for fan handle 1526-87 Via
I've been turning this idea over and over in my head, trying to figure out how to make it happen. I really want to take a step forward and do something more exciting than the turned wood, dowels, and pressed wood filigree I've done in the past.  I found several drawings of designs for Italian fans that are just shatteringly beautiful, including the one to the left that is in the British Museum. They were major luxury items at the time involving skill and a great deal of gold. I got the harebrained idea that I would cast one in pewter and then gold leaf it. That was a delusion of grandeur I'm afraid.  Loads of research on lost wax casting later, I have put that idea up on a shelf and decided to go with modern methods for now and learn to cast to that level of expertise later. I figure it will take a few years.

Sculpy wins again! Just like the zibellino masks, it is a quick and easier solution for not having a goldsmith in my pocket. I decided to use the basic layout of the Orsi fan and change the individual details to be more in line with my preferences. The figure is getting shifted to an Amazon, I'm adding my seeblatt, and the side grotesques are becoming gryphons. The central medallion is probably going to have my Apres. I'm not sure yet. it will really depend on how well the sculpting goes and what I can manage. I've got a wooden stir stick covered in a tin foil armature as my base and it's working so far. I'm liking the pieces I've sculpted on the bottom. Hope the rest goes as smoothly..


  1. OMG! I'm working on a fan, in sculpty-type-stuff, working from the same design source! I haven't worked in plastic clay before and I don't feel at all confident about it's strength so I'm using a wooden candleholder as the base.

    It'll be interesting to compare process and stuff.

    Your's sure looks great!