Now that I have welded my steel internal armature, I am ready to begin the additive process. However, there are a few things left to do before sculpting in clay. Below are some pictures showing my steps.
This first image shows my bare steel armature which is attached to a plywood base. The base has a set of castors on the bottom so I can turn the sculpture with ease as I work. I have placed the armature next to my new mannequin to get an idea of the size, and also because I haven't posted a picture of her yet!
Here is a second shot of my armature on top of the 2' platform I built for it. There is a joint between the top of the platform and the bottom of the armature base that allows the armature to be lifted on and off. This joint also allows the armature to pivot at the center like a turn table. By have this platform I can work on the sculpture at different heights.
In order to cut down on the use of expensive and weight-baring clay, it is necessary to first build out some form using a light, sturdy material. You can use a variety of materials for this such as foam, however, I decided to use paper-mache. It is a cheap, non-toxic material that bears a lot of strength. It is also common to use burlap and plaster atop chicken wire to build out this form. Personally, I like to use paper-mache or foam because you can cut into them easily while sculpting, unlike plaster or wood which are far less forgiving. Not to mention, plaster or wood create more unnecessary weight. Try to keep your sculpture as light as possible! You'll be happy you did.
After allowing the paper-mache to thoroughly dry for a day, I wrapped the armature with some thin, flexible wire. This gives the clay something to hold on to. Once that was on, I covered the entire armature with a thin layer of clay, as shown above. I am now ready to begin sculpting!