The Sculptor's Muse - Tools of the Trade

August 15, 2010

Every art has it's tools, and some share similar tools whether the tool was intended that way or not.  For instance, I will use some of my watercolor or oil paint brushes to smooth specific areas of my sculptures.  But of all the tools I use, my hands alone do most of the work.  Using my hands (and I must confess, my fingernails) I bring a sculpture to 95% completion.  Most of the tools I use are for detail work, however, I am a sucker whenever I pass by an art supply store and they happen to have any sculpture tools available.  The tools look so ....wonderful! and appear so..... useful!  I buy them and bring them home, put them in the wooden cigar boxes I use to keep my tools in (great boxes and can be had really cheap at pipe shops), and then... I hardly ever use them.  I always use my hands and fingers with the clay.  My most humorous purchase was in Firenze (Florence) Italy.  The place of Michelangelo's David!  I had to buy sculpture tools there!  I found two that I bought, nice sharp metal things.... Robert says they look more like assasin's weapons (Notice I refrain from any oblique references to Italy's renaissance history and the Borgia)- and I've used them more for wax chasing than sculpting, ....but I have them!

 

But we now live in an 'instant' society, and computers and technology are taking over the artisan's craft more and more.  Woodworkers are put out of a job because a laser can now do the same thing, and they now have a computer that can scan a standing person from all angles and reproduce the person as a sculpture.  Though the examples I have seen lack a creative composition, they lack the artstic aesthetic that seems to only come when a portrait is reproduced through the eyes of another human - the artist, whether that is the artist as a photographer, painter or sculptor.  A hundred years ago, one of the elements of a good sculpture was to reproduce the hair, skin, fabric of the clothes so realistically that one couldn't see a tool mark or fingerprint anywhere.  However, with today's and possibly the future's 'answer' to creating sculptures of people, exactly detailed, but without life, I have chosen to sculpt with my hands, and leave fingerprints, the ubiquitous 'thumb stroke' of all sculptors, and even slight tool marks.  My sculptures are created through the tools of humanity, my hands, my eyes, my heart.  And that is what communicates.

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copyright 2019 Tracy H Sugg, Sculptor