Art Toys - Michelangelo's Peg Doll

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As I began brainstorming for the design of this project, I was immediately compelled to see how much story I could tell or emotion I could convey by simply manipulating the pose or posture of the traditional peg doll form. What I realized is that the peg doll in its rigid upright pose reminded me of early European sculpture, in which figures stood straight with their weight on both feet. By comparison, it was a revolution within this style of sculpture when artists began creating figures whose weight was shifted onto one leg, generating dramatic dynamism and life through this simple change. Subsequently what I decided was that I would attempt to convey this same posture, known as contrapposto, using the form of the peg doll as my starting point.

An example of European sculpture before contrapposto

An example of European sculpture before contrapposto

A fantastic illustration of contrapposto from Tumblr

A fantastic illustration of contrapposto from Tumblr

To do this, I looked at famous examples of contrapposto, and in particular the angles at which the different parts of the body are positioned when weight is shifted onto one leg. Then through a series of sketches I attempted to distill these angles down so they could be applied to the peg doll.

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In order to then convert these drawings into 3D space, I had to cut up multiple dolls at the same angles I had sketched in order to then glue them all back together in a way that simulated the squashing and stretching of the body created by the contrapposto pose. My tool of choice for this process was a Dremel with both the cutting and sanding bits, which allowed me to quickly and accurately cut the dolls apart as well as sand them down into this new but still familiar shape.

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In addition to simulating the form of this style of sculpture, I also sought to emulate the material as well, though rather than actually making a carving from marble, I instead created a cement cast. Once I had my adapted wooden doll, I created a silicone mold of it using this fantastic DIY tutorial. In order to get a “marbled look” I made two different batches of cement, one of which that was dyed darker, and then mixed them loosely before pouring the mold. Then after it had been cast I sanded it with three different grits of sandpaper to get the finest, shiniest possible finish.

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Art ToysStefan SkripakComment