- Lesson details
In this series, you will learn how to create your own ecorché sculpture from scratch with artistic anatomist, Rey Bustos. Rey makes the challenging but rewarding subject of learning artistic anatomy easy-to-understand and fun. In this sixth lesson of the series, Rey will show you how to bake the skeleton of your ecorché at home. You will then learn how to paint the skeleton, the last step before applying muscles.
- Aluminum Foil
- Gas Oven (Empty and Not Preheated)
- Oven Mitts or Potholders
- Lazy Susan Stand
- Varathane Wood Stain – Golden Oak
- Small Paint Brush
- Blue Painter’s Tape or Masking Tape
- Paper Towels
- Printer Paper
- Art Alternatives Armature (Aluminum) Wire – 1/8″ Inch
- 24 Gauge Steel Wire
- Super Sculpey Clay – Original Beige
- Shop Cloth
- Super Sculpey (II or III) Chocolate
- Zap-a-Gap Super Glue – Medium CA+
- Baking Soda
- Electrical Tape
- Circular Wooden Base
- Small Wooden Clay Tools
- X-Acto Knife
- Flexible Metal Modeling Palette
- Petroleum Jelly
- Staple Gun
- Krylon Color Master Spray Paint – Almond
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Slip Lock Pliers
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Believe it or not, we’re actually going to go into the kitchen now.
You’re going to see my little kitchen.
We’re going to be baking this, and then we’re going to take this to the garage and
spray paint it.
Okay, so you do the same thing.
Let’s get into the kitchen.
I do want to point out is you’ll need aluminum foil.
This is just to protect the wood.
I have found in the past that depending on the wood that I use—this happens to be like
a plaque-type piece of wood, I have found that the plywood boards are heartier, so you
don’t need to protect them quite as much.
This is a little bit lighter wood.
So what I’m going to have you do no matter what you’re using is just three or four
sheets of aluminum foil out like this.
It doesn’t matter if it’s shiny up or shiny down, I have found.
So, I get these three sheets like this.
Notice that they’re longer than the board is wide.
I think I’m going to be okay with these three sheets.
One of the things I want you to refrain from doing is flattening this down.
As a matter fact, I like to just kind of loosen it up a little bit.
What we’re trying to do is create a little barrier, a heat barrier, so you need a little
bit of air in between these layers.
So, what I’m going to do now is carefully take our soft clay ecorché here like this
and just very gently fold this over.
Do you see that?
Here is one more additional thing I’m going to tell you that I think will be worth doing.
It only takes just another moment, and that is to take a little piece of foil like this,
cut this in half, see just little pieces like this, and just very—this is soft so you
have to be really, really careful not to damage these fingers.
What you want to do is just fold this over.
Notice I’m not touching the hand at all.
I want to be really gentle with this.
This protects the hands.
The fingers are so darn delicate.
They’re very delicate.
I’m basically just pinching it very, very lightly.
Since this is soft, you don’t want to bend any of the fingers because you might not see
a bent finger.
Once it’s baked then you can’t straighten it out, so I’m being very careful not to
touch those fingers.
I’m just going to let this lay right on top.
This just gives it like a little heat shield.
It looks kind of funny, but it’s well worth doing.
It just takes another moment of time.
Okay, that’s it.
The other thing I’m going to tell you is that it’s best to use a gas oven.
If you have an electric oven you just have to be a little bit more vigilant
about watching your ecorché.
This is one of those times that you don’t want to forget about this.
You don’t want to go shopping or on a date or anything like that.
What you want to do is just make sure that you do not preheat the oven.
It’s not a pizza.
It’s not a baked good.
It’s an ecorché.
You don’t want to be fumbling around in a hot oven.
What I have done is I’ve already taken out all the racks.
Once you put this down you’ll see that the oven is empty, completely empty.
It’s just a big metal box.
Okay, so now we very carefully put it into—remember—the not preheated oven.
I’ve just realized this is a little tall.
It’s not a big concern; it’s happened before.
When that happens all you do—it’s just a smidge, just a little tiny bit.
What I’m going to do is just bend this down.
Not a big deal.
Just bend that wire down, and I can bend it back later.
It’s not going to affect anything.
It’s still soft so it’s not going to break anything in the neck bones.
I’m just going to very carefully put it in here right in the center right on the floor
of the oven.
Then that’s it.
Now I can set the temperature.
Okay, now this next part is really important.
I’m going to set the temperate to 225 degrees.
If you have a box of Super Sculpey because it’s too hot.
Remember, 220 to 225 degrees, just to make sure that we’re doing the exact same thing,
I set my temperature to 225.
The next step is very important.
Now, you use a little egg timer, or I’m just going to be looking at my watch.
Every five minutes I open up the oven door and I stick my hand in there and I touch the
ecorché, or I just give it a visual inspection.
Common sense will tell you if something starts turning dark kind of like the edge of a cookie
being burnt, it’s too much.
You have to take it out.
The reason I’m going to tell you that you have to check it every five minutes is because
everybody’s ovens are different.
Since we start with a cold oven we don’t know how long it’s going to take to get
I can’t tell you it’s going to take 15 minutes, 20 minutes to complete the ecorché
process of baking this.
I can’t tell you that.
I can tell you that if you check it every five minutes in between one of those five
minutes you know you’re going to have to stop cooking this.
So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to just keep watching.
It’s going to be five minutes, then I’m going to check, another five minutes, and
I’ll keep checking every five minutes.
Okay, for my ecorché it’s taken about 12 minutes.
I noticed with the second time of looking in after the 2nd five minutes, I knew it was
going between that and the next five minutes, so I need to get it out now.
Turn off the oven.
Okay, so let’s carefully—it’s hot in here so you have to be
really careful in getting this out.
Okay, so now we can look at it and make sure everything is—it’s still hot but that’s good.
Now, this is going to cool and be nice and firm and we can be ready for painting now.
important because what you want to do is you want to make sure that you give it a few hours.
Ideally, you might want to wait and start the next day to paint this. The reason is
that Sculpey a lot of times retains a little bit of the heat well inside of it. It could
still emanate and it might damage the paint when you try to spray paint it if you still
have a bit of heat coming out from it. The other thing is that if you do not like spray
paints, you know, if you’re susceptible to any kind of chronic problem with breathing
stuff in, you could always hand paint this. I’m just going to show you what I use.
When it comes to spray painting, I have tried all sorts of different types of spray paint.
I used to hand paint them, but this is just so superior. It gives it a really, really
very nice light coating. What you might want to do is get a can of this. It’s called
Krylon brand Colormaster. On the can it will tell you that it dries in 10 minutes or less,
and that is honest truth. It’s really, really a very good product. The other one here is
a lazy Susan stand. When you go to a hardware store you could either go to the hinge area
or the area where they have any kind of shelving supplies, any hardware like that, and you
could find a lazy Susan stand. It’s not necessary, but I like having it because when
I put it underneath my sculpture I can turn it, whether I’m sculpting or if I’m just—like
right now—spray painting it.
Other materials. Okay, so we have the spray paint. I have scissors just because I need
to do a little bit of cutting. This is Verithin brand wood stain. This is another option.
This is just one that once you see me doing it, I think you’re going to want to do it.
Whether you spray paint it or hand paint this, I think the wood stain , it’s one of my
little secret ingredients in this beautiful stew of this little ecorché. You could also
just buy little tiny containers like this. These are sample packs. Where you find these
is, again, at a hardware store where they have the paints and stains. If you actually
take a look in the aisles, oftentimes they’ll have little woodchips where you could see
the color of the stain. I happen to like Golden Oak. Honestly, you look at the stains and
pick one that you think might look good for you.
One of the things I’m going to warn you about is—I thought these were like ketchup
packets, and one time when I first saw them I stuffed my pocket full of them. They’re
not free. Make sure that you really look. Some hardware stores will give these away
for free. This one didn’t. Fortunately, I didn’t get caught, and I went home with
about 30 of these packets. But, now it’s actually out there and everybody knows. You
can buy little packets. If you get these little packets—they’re only about a quarter,
30 cents or something like that. You only need about four of these. I happen to have
a big container of it only because I do this a lot for my students.
The other thing is just get any old cheap brush. If you have an old brush laying around,
that’s fine. Other than that, this is just a little paintbrush again at a hardware store.
I think this was just pennies. These are very, very cheap. I have a little masking tape.
Any kind of tape will do because you need to mask this. If we are going to paint this,
and since I’m going to spray paint it’s going to be really important that I do not
paint the hand, otherwise it’s going to look like he’s wearing a white glove and
a sock, and you do not want that. So for that I just got paper towels. Paper towels are
nice and soft and easily ripped. What I’m going to do is I’m going to just give them
a little mitten.
Now, you do not have to be too picky about where you put this. You’re just basically
covering this part up. If you spray paint a little bit of this but not this, you’re
still fine. What I’m going to do is I’m going to get a little bit of this tape and
just tape this on it. Be really careful. It’s really easy to break the fingers. The good
thing is it’s nice and firm so it does have a little bit of give because at the end of
this limb the limb itself has a little give. That in itself kind of helps it out. I don’t
want to overdue the tape on this because later on it’s going to be hard to take off. You
also want to just be careful about that. I’m putting another piece of tape over here because
I could see a little finger poking through. I just want to make sure nothing is going
to get painted over that I do not want painted over. I think that might be enough.
Okay, of course, the foot. I just put a little notch there. You don’t have to be very neat
about this. You just have to make sure it’s covered. I’m starting with the paper towel
first because it’s easy to break into little pieces. I’m going to now change over to
just printer paper because I want to mask off everything around it. I want to be really
good about this and make sure that I don’t get any paint on the wooden base. I just thought
about something. This is something that you could also think about. You might want to
later on hand paint the base. Now that I think I might do that, I’m not going to be quite
as picky about the base. I just want to make sure that the foot is covered.
Alright? How about if we do that.
That’s actually kind of a neat thing to think about. That way you don’t have to
be too picky about covering up that wooden base. I’m going to hand paint it, especially
since I kind of burnt it a little bit. You might have done the same. It’s like don’t
worry about that. Don’t fret about that. That burn is going to go away because I think
we’re going to—I’m deciding that I’m going to hand paint this, and I think you
can too. If you don’t, if you like the look of the wood then you want to very carefully
mask all this off. In this case, I think I’m done. I’m going to leave it like this. Just
so it doesn’t look too unsightly, I think I could just really quickly put a little bit
more of this paper around it. I’m not doing anything that you can’t figure out. Do you
see that? I’m just putting paper around this base. Just a little bit more since I
have all this paper here, and voila.
Okay, there we go. Let’s take a look at the hand. The hand looks good. The foot is
covered. I see a little bit of the side of the foot so I’m going to cover that up just
a little bit. I really don’t want the foot to get any kind of overspray or anything that
I can’t fix later. Right now it will benefit you to just be a little bit careful about
that foot. I’ve had that where I wasn’t real careful and some of the spray kind of
went on to the side of the foot, and it’s really hard to take off. Instead of going
through all that post production stuff, let’s just try to keep it neat right now.
Okay, that’s it. Now we’ve got our handy-dandy spray. Looking, looking, making sure everything
is okay. Everything’s fine. We’ll put a little bit of tape here. The reason is that
some of the paper was lifting off, and it might get in the way of these bones being
painted. If you have a mask or anything like that it might benefit you.
Now I’m going to focus a little bit more on the left side rather than the right because
this is the side that’s always going to be exposed. If you leave this a little undone
it’s not going to bother this project at all. There it goes. Now, you’re going to
find that I barely spray paint this. It’s going to be so light that you will still see
the clay underneath it. Don’t overdo it because what happens is it will start to drip.
I’m basically just throwing a little fog on it, if you can tell what I’m doing. Like
that. Just a little fog.
The good thing about spray paint is that you can just put a tiny little layer on, whereas
when I used to hand paint it, it was just a little too thick sometimes, and you would
lose a little bit of the detail. Okay, the clavicle definitely needs a little paint on
it. Certain exposed bones. But because I also don’t want to keep breathing this, I’m
just going to leave it very light. That’s the way I want you to do it too. The tibia
on the right side is exposed bone. We know this because it’s designed to hit low tables.
It’s exposed bone so because of that I need to make sure they have
a little bit of paint on there.
Now, let’s take a look at this. It looks good. There is barely any paint on there,
and that’s exactly what we want. If you look very carefully you’d still be able
to see just a little bit of Sculpey in there. That’s what you want. You want it to be
really, really light. Now what we do, this paint is so good, it’s going to dry in just
a few minutes. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to wait for this to dry
like maybe five minutes, ten minutes, you could touch it. It’s actually ready now.
I’m going to just go for it. It’s such a light mist that believe it or not, we’re
going to just jump into the next step, which is using this.
Now, for this wood stain—remember my preference was golden oak. You could find whatever. You
could something that’s a little warmer, a little cooler. You could not do that at
all. If you don’t happen to have anything available like this, you could actually just
water down acrylic paint. Burnt umber, ultramarine blue, those two combine and kind of make a
dark brown and water it down like watercolor, and you can just put it on there. You can
basically use what I’m going to be using now the same way. What I have here is bathroom
tissue. You need something really soft like this, whether it’s facial tissue or bathroom
tissue, but something really, really soft.
Remember my cheap little brush? What I’m going to do is basically dip it in here very,
very carefully and very lightly. It’s another one of those things that you want to do in
your garage because it’s pretty stinky. This you have to just do one little area at
a time. You just basically put it on there, wipe it off. It may be hard to see right now,
but it is amazing how much more beautiful the bones look once you add this one little
step. I’m just going to do that. I hope that once we get closer up you’re going
to see that this looks fabulous. Make sure that you’re also just doing one little bit
at a time. The reason is because it stains very quickly. What happens is if you let it
dry just a little bit too long, just a few seconds longer then it gets kind of sticky.
If you put another layer on it looks stained, like a bad stain.
I’m going inside the hand and being really, really gentle because you don’t want to
break fingers. Surprisingly, because it’s all wired, it’s actually pretty strong.
You’re going to find that this is just a beautiful step. People just can’t believe
it. It will be our secret, so make sure you don’t tell anybody about this. People are
going to look at your ecorché, and they’re going to think you’re a genius. We’ll
just let that be our secret. It’s really, really beautiful. It’s amazing. It’s disguises
the fact that it’s Sculpey, and it makes the bones just come to life. What you’re
doing is adding another value, visual texture, and everything that you would like in a painting,
you could do it in this three-dimensional object. So we’re adding all these little
nuances, and it’s the nuances that make things look special. Look at that pelvis.
See how you get it really dirty like you just came out of the grave. You wipe this off.
Some people actually like that so much that they let this dry and they put another coat.
Then you can just keep getting darker and darker. This is where the payoff comes in.
I don’t know if you remember, but I was showing you guys how to do a little bit of
these nauncy details like the pits of the bones. Well, the stain gets caught in there,
and you can’t wipe off the stuff that’s inside the nooks and crannies. They tend to
stand out more. All that hard work is now magnified, and you can see it much more clearly.
Now it looks like I’m a much better sculptor that I really am. Again, that’s our secret
too. All these things are just little trade secrets, little things I’ve come up with.
Who would think about wood staining an ecorché Except when I work at my fictitious lab, I
practice these things. I try different things out. Believe me, many things just do not work.
But when something works, I pass it on to you guys.
Here goes. Watch this foot. This foot is going to come to life once we stain it. Because
you wipe all this off, and all of a sudden the stain goes in the joints, and it makes
the joints look more joint-like and more separate. It makes the bone look more sophisticated,
prettier, and more finished. Now it’s looking not just like an educational sculpture, but
it’s actually an artistic one too. Aesthetically it starts looking really, really quite stunning.
Like I said, it’s amazing how many times people looked at this and look at it in awe
when I put this little step—and such an easy one. That’s what I like, when something
is easy and it just bumps up the value of your work so much. I’m looking around to
see if there is anything I might have missed. A little bit of the scapula because part of
the scapula is going to be visible, but not all of it. Notice that I don’t put any of
this stain on this side. I do that on purpose because if you have stain on these bones it’s
going to resist the muscles that we’re going to put on there. The other clay won’t want
to stick to it. You want to leave this alone. The only areas I told you to put any stain
on are the inside parts of the tibia because it is exposed, and a little bit of the clavicle
right in here. The spine of the scapula, maybe the acromion process.
The vertebrae is going to really need a little bit of this. Look at the vertebrae right now.
Watch what happens. This is just going to be fabulous. You put this stuff on here like
you’re actually putting sauce on ribs, pardon the pun. You wipe it off with a tissue. Be
careful with the vertebrae because it snaggles right in there because it’s got little pokey
things, the scapula needs it too. It needs a little bit more. You’re going to love
this. There, look at that. I kind of went a little overboard but knowing that I could
wipe it off—look at that scapula. That’s gorgeous. Yes, you can say that about your
own work. It’s okay. There, that’s it. Now we’re ready for the muscles.
Pretty cool, eh? Then you carefully take all the stuff off. It’s ready. It’s going
to be stunning. I also want to see if I messed up with the masking. I don’t want to have
covered u p the foot with any paint. Hopefully, I did good. Let’s see, let’s unwrap it.
It’s like Christmas. I’m excited, look at that. Look at that foot. How do you like
that? Let’s see, let’s open this up. This one I know is safe. Look at that. How do you
like that? It’s beautiful.
Well, I hope you didn’t burn your ecorché. That’s something that you have to really
watch very carefully. But if you do you can touch it up with paint. Next time we are going
to be applying the muscles. We’ll see you then.