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This piece is in a private collection. It is the first Centaur Chicken- Gallus Porter or Cock Man, as it’s owner refers to it.I created this piece after a long period of plaster trial and error in the fall of 06. I finally reached a predicable/stable result with the straight figure.  Shifting this technique to the demands of the centaur chicken was a big test/risk of the plaster technique, as the torso creates an enormous cantilever of stress on the legs. I didn’t think it would work, and so was happily surprised with its structural integrity.

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Wyandotte/Buttercup Hen from Draper Library in Draper Utah
Elizabeth with Heavy Ball

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Chicken mid process of pulling the plaster.
A sub-par cast of Eliz. volunteers to merge with the hen.

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The nesting centaur may be an interesting direction to come back to, but the amazing balance that occurs with the addition of legs is too interesting for me to leave alone for quite some time. Having an entire standing Centaur is just too fun and quirky to back off from.

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The challege in merging the human/chicken into a convincing centaur, that will be structurally sound as well, lies in the gesture. I chose the Wyandotte hen to go with Eliz because I thought their attitudes were similar; the energetic quality of the hen and human complemented one another and lent good direction to fusing them together. Finding the correct angles and proportions for cutting and joining the figure and legs means starting way back from where you think the cut should be- then cutting small sections away at a time. The sections are like chainsawing a thin disk from a felled tree- I use a body grider with a thin cutting wheel for this. Coming up with idea of a little “chicken breast” at the base of her torso helped as well- it was initially a lump from undersupports of joining the torso, but as I filed it back I noted the balance became less convincing. The round fully fluffed feathery “chicken breast” came into being with adding plaster and filing it down again till it ‘read’ correctly.

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the top arm is a separate piece that starts just past the wrist into the hand, and at the shoulder. note how I had to file back the hand and hair to get this to fit for the expanded foam mistake.
On the lower figure, the hand and arm are free from the hair- this was an important decision when creating the piece- sacrificing the flow and elegance of the sculpture by connecting the hand to the hair would have made for an easier mold and a simpler casting process.

The next two show how much wider the expanded foam took the figure- the second shows the figure as it should be, with the calipers showing the extra width of the sub-par casting. the remaining images show a similar gap.

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The mold needed to be pulled tighter than the bolt/pins allowed, so I cinch-strapped it together. I ran a few tests with water to figure this all out, and got it watertight. Next I flipped it over into the ol garbage can and mixed batches of hydrocal at less than a quart per batch and began pouring them in, tapping and jiggling the mold and garbage can to release air bubbles. The mold came out perfectly seamed together- like a little jagged lightning tatoo around the body. I broke the ball/hand off when pulling it from the mold, even with help- but drilled a pin into the ball and the shoulder and glued it back in place.
The weight of the piece causes problems- all the problems I try to avoid with the hollow forms- of the feet shattering as the support rod is tightened down to the base. I really just need to start sculpting the figure on a small platform that I mold along with the figure. The weight makes it tippy, and cracks the brittle plaster easily- so I elevated her a bit and filled under and over with plaster. This helped, but the only real solution is to cast her in wax, and then on to bronze.
Next I will show some close-ups comparing the figures.

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