Epoxy Clay Animals Paper Mache Animals

How to Sculpt Cat Fur with Apoxie Sculpt


Sculpting Cat Fur, for Goat's Kitty Friend

Sculpting cat fur:

Yes, there’s now a cat to go with my Goat #3, and I turned on the camera while I sculpted the fur texture on the cat’s chest. It’s very ‘abstract’ or ‘painterly,’ (scare quotes added because I don’t really know what to call the style.) I didn’t want to make the fur look realistic because the goat’s texture isn’t realistic either, and I want them to fit together nicely. So – this is a video showing how I sculpted a texture to indicate a nice ruff of fur on a barn cat’s chest.

So – what happened to Goat #2?

A daydream took over my finger muscles. I told my fingers to do one thing, but they did something else. Too vague for you? OK, here’s what happened:

I intended to finish Goat #2 the same way I finish my masks, but instead of using the shop towel mache, like I did all the masks in my mask book, I would use plaster cloth, like I did when I made my Gorilla. You do it exactly the same way as you would if you were using the shop towel mache, but the plaster cloth hardens faster. Plus, I had some here at the house that I wanted to use up.

Then YouTube sent me a notice that Brick in the Yard had a new video. I watched it (big mistake!) They made a mold out of really stretchy silicone, and after the silicone sets up, you can pull it off the original like a sock – no dividing lines.

Why did that matter? Because I started thinking about making a mold for the goat, which would be totally impractical. The mold itself would cost about 80 bucks, but it looked like so much fun. The daydream took over.

I told myself I wasn’t going to do it, but my self didn’t listen. I made the goat’s details, unintentionally, as if I was going to make a mold. The plaster cloth, naturally, covered the details because they weren’t deep enough, and I tried to compensate by not putting on enough plaster cloth. When the plaster cloth was pulled off the goat, it simply collapsed, and the original sculpt was destroyed.

Am I sad? No. I like this final result so much better.

I love the interaction between the two species that are now illustrated in the sculpture, and I learned a lot about working with the Apoxie Sculpt. I need to learn more about it if I’m going to make the outdoor sculptures that I plan to make later this year. The cat’s fur helped me loosen up a little and add some tool marks. That’s one of the things I liked so much in the original sculpt of Goat #2, which was made with WED clay.

I used two different brands of epoxy clay on this sculpt because I was trying to use up the left-over product that I bought on a whim about a year ago. (I ran out and had to order more – this is an expensive project!)

Charlie, my slightly weird dog…

Note for owners of slightly weird dogs: When I sand or carve into the cured epoxy I have to send my dogs out of the studio – one of them is attracted to the powdered epoxy that falls onto the floor. I don’t think he needs a tummy full of powdered plastic.

My goat sculpture has gotten away from me, design-wise, and I’m now rethinking my commitment to sell it for charity. It’s become a much bigger donation than I intended (I usually send the Heifer Foundation $20.) I’m now thinking that I will just send them a check and ask my local library if they’d like to have the sculpture for their children’s area. No literary reference, though, so they may not want it. I’ll see.

I also learned something about my artistic process that I should have known years ago:

Almost every time I start a ‘serious’ project, I have to go through at least three versions before I’m happy with it. Ideas come slowly to me, and almost never happen all at once, before the project starts. For instance, I recently decided to remake the pattern and instructions for the 2-foot tall foal that I made several years ago, and my Unicorn is how it ended up. That’s how my brain works. I’ve decided to embrace the process, and not worry about the time it takes for me to get where I’m going. It feels rather liberating, in a way.

Next week I start painting this piece, and I’ve ordered a new product that I’m really excited to try. It’s supposed to work with the Glazing Liquid to make really nice, transparent glazes. I don’t know if it will do what I want it to do, but I’m anxious to find out. Stay tuned. 🙂

Let me know what you think of this rough-textured cat fur. And if you have thoughts about this sculpture in general, let me know that, too. I always love hearing from you guys.

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21 Comments

  • I did try to post some photos on your site Jonni, which didn’t appear … and there were more than just one…SO,I posted them on my Blog http://sharonsfancy.blogspot.com/
    Looking forward to any pointers from you, especially for mane and mounting….the head protrudes and is top heavy. Thinking I’ll try the paper towel trick with the mane and extend it to the base and try to secure it that way. I AM DETERMINED to get this done….hope I can follow thru….

    • Sharon, your horse portrait is beautiful. I can see why you’re so determined – it would be a crying shame to stop now, when you’ve done such a nice job on the sculpt. I have no skills when it comes to bases (that’s why I had so much trouble with my goat, and why I still have no idea why she stands up on her own. I should have paid more attention in physics class).

      Eileen does a lot of bases, and I’m sure other people do, too. How about re-posting your comment on the Daily Sculptors page, and ask for advice. All I can think of is using a metal rod that goes through the back portion of the neck, and all the way to the top. It would need to be very well secured. Then the bottom of the rod could be placed in a specially-made concrete base, which could be quite small because of the weight, or a larger wooden base. But ask the group on the Daily Sculptors page – someone may have an easier solution for you. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

      • Thank you. I’ll go to the Daily Sculpt. I thought of the steel rod too originally, but lack tools to cut it to size …. etc. Will probably stick with the banana hook (which is the stand I propt the head on for the pic….There IS a way to secure it by screwing it to the wooden curve of the stand…which I tried with no success… The screw has to be thin so it doesn’t split the narrow curve…but the wood is so hard (I don’t know what kind he used when he made this) I couldn’t get the screw to penetrate it. Have to put out an SOS to my neighbor for help with that I guess. I’ve secured pieces like this before successfully.

        • Oh, a big lesson learned with this … a project must be planned completely from start to finish BEFORE I even begin. I really don’t like the consequences this one has caused me in frustration and time wasted.

          • Sharon, very sorry that you are feeling frustrated. I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to think of a solution. I thought of filling it with Plaster of Paris and using a strong adhesive to adhere it to a mounting plaque, or embedding a hanger in the PoP, but I realized that wouldn’t work at all. If it’s any consolation, your horse head is beautiful.

            • Shelbot thank you for your thoughtfulness and kindness. Well, I’ve got it mounted… how secure it will be is the BIG question…. but I’ll just make it a point to Never pick it by the head once it’s done. And it is going to get done.
              Somebody asked me once….”are you interested or are you committed”…. I like that. “Committed” sounds so much better then bull-headed.
              I have a large, thick, heavy sheet of plywood that I’ve hung on to …. way too long just taking up space, an empty coffee can, and a neighbor with a table saw. I dented in the sides of the coffee can with my rubber mallet for the neck to fit partway in, screwed the can to the board…. Not much support for it….maybe my hard headed, I mean Committed brain will figure it out…by the time I’m satisfied enough with the sculpt and get it painted. Never painted a horse before …

            • Sharon, really glad that you are committed (or bull-headed LOL) about getting the horse head where it can be displayed properly.
              Your idea sounds fairly ingenious and I hope it continues to work. I anxiously await the finished sculpture. I already know it’s going to be beautiful.

  • Jonni- I like goat #3! She looks definitely feminine and the sweet kitty is doing the cat “hi!” just beautifully! I also like the painterly sculpting of the fur- it becomes a work of art rather than a representation of the animal. I love them both.
    You have incredible patience to do attempt #3. I don’t have that kind of patience at all. If it doesn’t go right the first time, I tend to drop the subject all together. That doesn’t mean I wont change the sculpture as it evolves but to do it over…no thanks. You have a lot of tenacity for someone who claims to have ADD! Thanks for the tutorial.

    • Thanks, Eileen. I had a lot more fun with that cat than I did with the goat, because I have a model in the house and that makes it so much easier. No goat in the backyard, unfortunately. I’ve learned a lot about my process during this sculpt, but I don’t think patience really has much to do with it. I now realize that I don’t mind doing it over, as many times as it takes – but once I feel that it’s done, I can’t bear to make another one just like it. That would be torture. I also found out that my ideas take a lot of time to gel, and that’s something I should have known a long time ago. I once owned a tiny 380 square foot house in Portland, OR. The bedroom was tiny, and you had to crawl over the bed to get to the bathroom. Things had to change. I started tearing out walls and rebuilding walls – and then tearing out my own walls and putting them somewhere else! In the end, I loved the layout. That’s exactly the same thing I’ve been doing with this silly goat. I’ve decided to embrace it. I don’t “make mistakes,” I just change my mind. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself today! 🙂

      • I had to chuckle while reading your post Jonni. By the way. you’re not unique on this road our mind changing twists and turns take us on. So time consuming to get that satisfaction with a project we don’t give up on until we get it just the way we can be happy with…
        You captured so much emotion in your goat and kitty sculpture… I see gentleness, affection, friendship…They are a joy to look at.

        Still working on my horse head. Decided to do something with the paper towel mess model I made to let me see the end result of how that placticine sculpt might look. , , and if it would be worth the effort and expense to make a mold. SO MUCH redo. When you don’t have a horse and have to go by pictures…. not happy or fun. I started it the 1st of Jan…and have cut off and remade ears, snout, eyes… totally stumped as to how I’m going to mount it. That was something I hadn’t planned for when I started. Don’t want it handing on the wall as a head mount.

        • Thanks for the kind words, Sharon. And I agree about trying to get a good sculpt using only photos. Maybe it would work better if the same animal was photographed from every angle, including top and bottom, but that never happens. I can’t believe the number of changes I’ve made to my goat – the cat was so much easier because I had a willing model in the house.

          We haven’t seen your horse-in-progress, have we? Do you think you’re going to be able to save it? Nichola Theakston has some interesting ways to mount a head sculpture. No horses, but maybe one of her ideas would work?

          • Thank you for the tip. I’ll pop over to Nichola’s site and take a look. I dug out an old Christmas present my brother inlaw made…. a banana hook mounted on a board that will probably work out just fine. Been digging through all my stuff and that’s about the best I could come up with for now….

          • Really enjoyed Nichola’s site. In answer to your question….I’ve put so much time in this project, as I said…over a month, fooling around with it a little every day… I ‘m not scrapping it, but I’m officially setting it aside … somewhere … with my other frustrating set asides.
            You asked me about sharing a work in progress which will probably remain a work in progress for a LONG time. Anyway, I took some pics to post. Included a shot of the hollowed out inside sculpt … I don’t see well anymore so my projects tend to be pretty big. With all the stuffing inside, they get heavier than I like, so, the shop towel mask works so well, I used it to see how it’d work on this.
            Anyway, if you have some tips for me, please share them. I value your experience and knowledge.
            Here they are….

            • Hi Sharon. It looks like you tried to upload some photos, but it didn’t work. Did you get an error message? If the image is too big, the system doesn’t say anything, unfortunately – it just posts your comment without the image. I do hope you’ll try again.

  • I meant our eyes complete the look for us……..

    Just got back from hiking down the desert wash behind our house. Tazzi and I found some awesome rocks.

  • Love the cat!!! His face is so cute. I like the textured fur. It’s amazing how our completes the actual look for us even though it isn’t too realistic. Can’t wait to see this piece finished. Love the goat too.

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