ere are some frequently asked questions and answers about the sculptures and sculpting at Gwin Sculpture Works. If you have a question you'd like see answered here, email us and we will try to answer it to the best of our ability.
Q: What material are your sculptures made out of?
A: A polymer clay called Super Sculpey. This is a specially-formulated clay sold in craft stores that, when baked at low temperature in your home oven, hardens into a plastic-like material. Sculptures made from Super Sculpey can be molded in silicone rubber and polyurethane casts can be made from the molds, thus producing model kits or toy prototypes. I also sculpt in other materials, including a blended artist's wax called Castoline and standard oil clays like Plastalina or Chavant. It generally depends on the project and the client.
Q: Do you use an internal support for your clay?
A: Yes. It's called an armature, and it's usually made from aluminum or copper wire. The armature is very similar to a skeleton in a human being's body: it serves as a rigid support for the weight of the clay. Sometimes I use aluminum foil to bulk out the interior of the model, as well.
Q: Why are sculptures so expensive?
A: This is something people are generally unaware of, but an original sculpture is a unique work of art. It represents not only the many hours of work it takes the artist to sculpt (from designing an armature all the way up to the finished piece), but also hours of research and planning, as well as the intangible quality of an artist's unique talent. When you commission a sculpture, there's only one piece exactly like it in the entire world. Nothing is more collectible or rare than a one-of-a-kind piece. The rates charged by Gwin Sculpture Works are actually quite competitive for the field.
Q: What's the average size of a sculpture?
A: It really depends on the project, but I often sculpt in 1:6 scale, which means a 6-foot human would be 12 inches tall. A sculpture can range from just a few inches tall to a few feet tall, depending on what the client is looking for.
Q: What's the most difficult part of doing a sculpture?
A: Doing very complicated clothing or skin patterns (scales, etc.) can be time-consuming, but the biggest challenge a sculptor faces is getting an accurate likeness of a character. There are other considerations in making a good sculpture, such as symmetry and proportion, but the most crucial aspect is likeness and some are much more easy to capture than others.
Q: What should an aspiring sculptor keep in mind while learning to sculpt?
A: One of the most important things is to practice (making mistakes is one of the best ways to learn). Experiment with a variety of tools and techniques to find out what works for you. You can take sculpting classes, but you can also teach yourself how to sculpt as I did. Read as many books on sculpting and anatomy (human and animal) as you can find. Study other sculptures and try to figure out how the artist did them. Use visual references such as photos and illustrations. Attend yearly model and toy conventions like Wonderfest where you can meet and talk to other sculptors.
Q: I've noticed that sometimes the action figure in the store looks different from your prototype. Why is this?
A: Toy companies have in-house sculptors as well as freelancers like me. The in-house sculptors sometimes make revisions for a variety of reasons before a figure comes out. The in-house sculptors often create the bases and accessories for a figure, as well.