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Life-size Figure Lesson


Date: Tue Mar 12 2002 - 18:18:07 PST many, many requests for the Life-size Sculpture a la George Segal
lesson, so here goes:

Materials: For the armature: Pair of denim jeans (the heavier the better)
I used an old pair of my size 5 junior jeans and I'm 5'1'', so the life size
was of a petite female adult (or large child). Size of clothes will dictate
size of sculpture. Button down long sleeve shirt (heavy material is best). I
used a corduroy shirt, but flannel would be great, too. . Old sneakers,
yarn, styro wig stand (you know, the head shaped kind- available in a beauty
supply store, plastic face mold (if available- the generic looking kind),
newspaper, large grocery store brown bag, plastercraft. If plastercraft is
not available, you could probably cover in papier mache as well. This only
required one thick coat of plastercraft, so we really didn't use that much.

Discuss George Segal's pop sculpture. Show examples and discuss his method
of using plastercraft.

(1.) Stuff the jeans with wads of newspaper until stiff. Position this
lower half of the body the way you want- sitting works beautifully. Prop up
in this position, on a chair. Begin smoothing on plastercraft. Beginning at
the waist, do the top half of the jeans, all around, front and back. Be
careful to smooth so that you see every crease and fold in the material. Lay
this on a table and turn it around as you work. Continue working from top of
the jeans to the bottom.
(2.) Plastercraft sets very quickly. When dry, "sit" the jeans on a chair.
If standing, prop up. Button shirt. Stuff a brown grocery bag with
newspaper and place under the shirt. The bottom of the bag should be up at
the shoulders, the opening of the bag, at the waist. Place stuffed shirt on
top of the jeans and tuck shirt into jeans. Add newspaper to the arms of
shirt and bend arms or position as you want.. Beginning at the waist,
plastercraft over the shirt, careful to smooth so that every crease and
detail shows. Do not plastercraft the shoulders, collar, or "collarbone'
area just yet.
(3.) Plastercraft hands of a volunteer student. Use vaseline first to coat
hands and DO NOT go beyond the wrist. When dry hot glue into the bottom of
the sleeves. Hot glue the plastic face mold onto the front of the wig stand
(or, use plasticene clay to build up features.) Hot glue this to the bag
(4) Plastercraft the neck, shoulders and head. Make a wig out of yarn and
hot glue to styro form. Add plastercraft to cover. Plastercraft over a pair
of sneakers/shoes. Attach under the bottom of pants with hot glue.

I had a team of 4-5 kids working on this at one time at the back of the room.
 I had a team "captain" (a real responsible and talented student) to oversee
the smoothing. The rest were doing individual plastercraft hand sculpture
projects at the same time. Used this life-size sculpture as a reward. The
kids LOVED doing this and were good as gold. Each begged to be the next to
work on "Georgina".

Sorry for the lengthy instructions, but I wanted to make sure I explained it
all in detail. If you only knew what I went through in nightmarish failure
before I figured out this fool-proof method- LOL! Someday I'll share the
story with the group- it's actually very funny! Have fun and enjoy!
Susan on Long Island