Teachers Lesson Plans

Real Life - Guy Ben-Ner and Ron Mueck

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What is different between working on a small-scale work and a large-scale one?

Ron Mueck begins by crafting a series of small models (in a variety of materials such as plaster, clay or wax), a process that allows him the opportunity to study possibilities for the figure's position. Next, he sculpts the figure in clay, incorporating the fine details of expression and skin texture that will appear in the finished work. This part of the process is undertaken by the artist alone.

To fabricate the sculpture itself, most of all if it is a large scale work like Head of a Baby, Mueck needs the help of assistants. First, a layer of gelcoat (a resin) is applied over the model. This layer incorporates pigments that are put on the interior of the mould, which give the skin colour and depth. Layers of fiberglass are painted into the mould until the required thickness and density are attained.

Because silicon, which is softer than fiberglass, has been used for the skin, each hair has been individually punched into the surface rather than glued into holes. This creates greater authenticity. The artist will often cast a silicone face for large fiberglass sculptures, so that facial and head hair can be applied more easily.

Great care must be taken in removing the sculpture from the mould. After any seams are polished away, finer details such as veins and blemishes are painted on the surface. Finally, Mueck turns his attention to the eyes which he sculpts himself and puts in place.