Introduction: Angry Head, Mixed Media

About: I am a Dream Consultant at TechShop San Jose and I make stuff. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @ellieectrode
All bow to the giant angry head totem! He will eat your faaaaaccccceee! Mixed media sculpture with wood, acrylic paint and chain.

For this sculpture I am using a simplified cross section technique, which is a good method for getting accurate forms out of hard, fusible materials. Also good because I used some extra wood that I had purchased for an entirely different purpose.

I made it at TechShop.

Step 1: Making the Underlays.

First some art. I sketched out some diagrams of how I want the face to look and then transferred it onto a large sheet of drafting paper to create my full scale cross sections. Since I'm going for a mask-like representation, I'm not going to worry about the depth of the cross sections (the boards are one inch wide and that’s what I’ll use for each layer) or the way the sculpture looks from the side. It's possible to create a three dimensional rough for cross sections using clay or some kind of soft sculpting material, but for this project I'm just going to use my artistic sense to create some 2.5D depth using my one inch boards.

Note: I want this dude to look ugly and angry, I do several sketches, the first few look too symmetrical to really express anger so I go for a deliberately lopsided final. The first sketch looks like it could be a more refined piece that looks like some kind of feudal facial armor, so I’m going to save this sketch for later.

Step 2: Mapping the Cross Sections With Tracing Paper.

Now that I have my master diagram, I'm going to draw out the way I want my cuts to look using layers of trace paper, this layering will help to create a simple three dimensional effect. After I trace out my shapes transfer them on to my wood pieces. 

Step 3: Cutting

Since I'm using scrap wood I have to break the big bits into smaller bits to be assembled after I've cut out my pieces.

Here's a technique for cutting complicated shapes on a bandsaw. The eight inch bandsaw blade is pretty precise as far as shop tools go, but that can still only cut a 1-2 inch radius comfortably.This straight cut technique is good for cutting much tighter radii. Basically cut a few lines perpendicular to your curve and then come in a slice the curve. Go slowly and nip out little bits at a time. 

I don't care about getting the lines super precise because I'm going to do a bit of sculpting with a chisel and hand tools once my pieces are assembled.

Step 4: Assembly

I'm using glue and a brad nailer to assemble all the pieces. These two methods of fastening create a pretty strong bond, which makes up for the fact that my piece is made out of random wood parts. Once they're assembled, it starts to resemble the head that I'm trying to create.

Note: that green envelope in the background is carbon paper sheets that I got from the office supply store. Good for transferring art onto sculpting materials. 

Step 5: Finishing

After a little contouring with a chisel and a sure form, I add some acrylic paint to finish the piece. It's a big giant angry red head, but I haven't used any actual red pigments. I get a much better effect by using a dark burnt orange and a purple for shadows. The jaw piece is attached by a chain and nut and bolt in the back. It's very scary.

The whole project took place over four days. One day to think about the cross sections and make sketches. Two days to cut and form, one day to paint and finish. the project didn't take up the entire four days. When working on complex projects, it's good to stop yourself and sleep on it whenever you reach a critical step. You will make much better progress and far fewer fatal errors that way.