My Final Major Project has now come to an end, so I would like to take the time to evaluate my making and the model.
Strengths and Weaknesses
I have identified some clear strengths and weaknesses throughout this project. For starters, I believe I have supported my making with thorough research from primary and secondary sources. This included a large amount of preparatory research into the subject, function, and professional practice. This helped me begin making through a more informed manner. I continued researching through secondary sources and experimentation throughout the making process which helped me to achieve a thorough understanding of the materials and confidence working with them. Additionally, establishing benchmarks and consulting industry professionals throughout, helped me to frame my making and final quality of the model within good professional practice.
One of the making stages which I believe has strongly benefited from this approach, was the sculpting stage. It was successful due to my planning beforehand and was improved further due to my conversations with Val Adamson. Moreover, the casting stage tested and established my independence when working with wax – from my research, I worked to create my own mix of tinted wax and a way of casting that achieved the best outcome. I believe that has been a real strength to the outcome, as it helped to establish a clear, good quality base for the painting and dressing stage.
On the other hand, I believe the surface quality of the casts could have been improved further. There were still surface bubbles that I could not eliminate despite my testing and conversations with industry. However, I alleviate this by spending more time on clean-up of the cast than I initially planned in my time plan, which made it better quality.
Additionally, I also believe that my mould of Kramer could also have been more effective. The silicon keys should have been more even and wider in order to help the silicon keep shape inside the plaster jacket better. The plaster jacket should also have been more vertical at the bottom which would have helped to catch the wax while I was layering the inside.
Another strength which I believe has helped me to apply more understanding and craftsmanship within this project, was my exploration of alternate specialist techniques such as photogrammetry. This allowed me to see the model from a different, digital perspective, which helped to frame my wax model towards a clearly defined purpose more effectively. By comparing the 3D printed model to the waxwork, I identified that my use of scale and material clearly fits the narrative of my model which fits within a museum setting. The photogrammetry itself and the 3D print, were also a good quality.
Not all elements of the model were scaled correctly though – Kramer’s final hairstyle was not quite ½ scale, as the braid was thicker than what she would have normally wore. This is because the hair I settled on using after a series of experimentation, was full-scale. Even though I thinned the hair down considerably, the final braid was still too thick, and I could not thin it down any further without compromising on length. However, I do not think this affects the narrative of the model, as I still achieved realism in the sculpt through the inclusion of a braid, which is an idiosyncratic feature of Kramer important to portraying her character.
I made a time plan at the beginning of the project which was dynamic. This meant that I could easily adjust it in order to accommodate issues and additional creative elements. At the beginning of the project, I also planned to leave a week free before the deadline.
I kept myself moving at an efficient, yet suitable, pace as I increased the time I spent on some stages of the project, by decreasing the time I spent on stages that had less effect on the overall quality of the model. For instance, I spent a week more than planned on sculpting of the project as this would have been at the core of the model (the painting is only ever as good as the base!) and the silicon moulding. To accommodate, I adjusted my hair punching to be much faster by punching several hairs at a time in areas where this would not have been visible, and only doing single hair punching on the hairline.
I think it’s important to note that I was planning my FMP during a COVID lockdown in the UK which came into force in December 2020. Due to this, I specifically outlined and organised this project in order to be achievable in a disordered and unpredictable climate that did not guarantee access to the studio and workshop resources. Due to this, instead of planning a Plan B project, I planned a model that could be completed from home with no effect on the final quality and function of the model. Wax was a natural choice for this instead of silicon, as this material can be worked with from home. Additionally, the scale of the model also helped in reaching this goal, while further strengthening the narrative of significance in my model. Lastly, I also planned to finish the majority of the sculpting during the Easter holidays from home, which meant that I could immediately get advice from tutors and professionals at the beginning of the summer term. This meant that I made more time for myself to effectively mould, cast and paint the model.
One stage that I believe proved my efficiency during this project, was towards the end. The day before deadline my final corduroy jacket went missing, which meant I had to redo it on very short notice. Due to my experimentation and understanding of the process and material beforehand, I was able to redo it quickly. I was also able to do this because I left some time free at the end of the project, which I planned at the beginning in the timeplan. Overall, I believe this proves as a clear example of efficient time management that was successful due to my dynamic planning of the project.
Suitability for Intended Purpose
I define the purpose of this model to be for a museum audience, with a representation function that engages the visitor in an open-ended object-subject interaction with a narrative of authenticity and significance.
I believe I have met this purpose with my model. First, the scale of my model, while diminutive in size, encourages closer inspection by being out of the normal. I support this choice with research on the narrative of scale in museum models, specifically investigating the work of Ron Mueck. Through the scale, the model suggests the significance of Edith Kramer, as the visitor is invited to put more effort to look closer.
Secondly, the realism of my sculpting and painting of the model, effectively engages the authentic representational narrative which I investigate through research on Madame Tussaud and meaning of models in museums. Realistic styling, inherently, forces the maker to truthfully sculpt and paint the model. By sculpting by hand and not using the aids of facial reconstruction, Edith Kramer is represented rather than reconstructed, making the hand of the maker visible which is further authentic to the process.
The base further suggests authenticity, as it is minimalistic in shape and components. The wood links back to the core element of wax in the cast due to its rawness, while the pine is an ordinary and reliable material that emphasises practicality and usefulness through its commonality. This links back to the work of Edith Kramer, which praised using everyday art materials. Edith Kramer’s name and information is laser cut into the wood that briefly describes her significance. A clean finish is achieved by a beeswax polish on the wood that also makes the base more nourished and protected. By elongating the base vertically, it further emphasises the significance of Kramer.
Overall, this model fits a museum setting as it is presented on a simple stand that gives the name, birth and death dates, and her occupation for the visitor to consider in their own interaction. The stand is made from wood as some metals can have a negative effect on the quality of wax over time. The model is removable from the stand in case of repairs and conservation. The wax was mixed to be durable. Hair pins are attached into place, so they do not need constant adjustment. The diminutive scale engages with the realistic representation and minimalistic presentation to present an authentic narrative portraying the significance of Edith Kramer to the field of art therapy.
I planned to achieve a certain level of quality by establishing benchmarks early on in the project. These included qualities I wanted to reach during the sculpting, painting, and dressing stages.
I believe my sculpting of Edith Kramer defined and met established standards of complexity (through the realism and attention to anatomy) and quality. I believe the lips in particular show an understanding of muscles underneath the skin and texture on the surface. Two areas that could use improvement in order to take my sculpt to a better quality, would be the eyes and the ears. The eyelids could have been more even in depth and scale, while the ears should have been smoothed more in order to prepare a better base for painting.
My painting of Edith Kramer has also met established standards within the industry. The colours reflect the skin tones and shades visible on the photos I had of Edith Kramer and portray a realistic representation of what she looked like. The colours also follow the anatomy of the face, with reds, greens and blues added to specific places like the undereye. They are blended in smoothly, and add elements of skin tones of the elderly such as small brown spots of discolouration, which further aids the realism of the model.
However, I would like to note that it is this stage that I believe could have been improved the most. The casting changed the surface quality of my sculpt, which means the base for the painting was not as good quality as I first planned. Due to this, the paint became stuck in little crevices so did not layer as well as I planned. I alleviated this by dry brushing the surface with very thin layers of paint, however I could have finished this stage faster and more effectively if the surface quality was improved. Moreover, I do believe I ended up with a little too much paint on the surface, specifically around the eye areas, which affected the translucency of the wax slightly.
The dressing and presentation stages of the model also meet the appropriate standards of quality. The hair punching and styling is durable and follows the average direction of hair growth on a human. The edges of the hairline were painted slightly to reflect the fragility of elderly hair as it was portrayed in the images of Edith Kramer. The dress making reflects professional practise, as it imitates the clothing she wore at half scale to a good standard. The stitching is even all the way across and does not fray. I can attribute the quality of the dressmaking to my numerous experimentations beforehand. The hair clips in her hair are ½ scale, and so is the imitation of a hair-tie which is holding her braid.
The eyes could have improved the presentation of the model further – they were outsourced and arrived with an exaggerated amount of domed resin at the front which affected the way the eyes fit into the eye sockets. This could have been improved by making my own eyes to fit the sockets.
The quality of the model extends to the base also. It was cut and sanded to a high quality, which was enhanced by the beeswax polish. The laser cut name and information is situated in the middle of the wood.
Overall, I believe I have demonstrated a development of appropriate approaches and techniques, portrayed through my learned confidence, understanding of wax as a material, and the quality of the final cast. I met established standards of professional practise by the quality of the final paint job and presentation components that were scaled down to the correct size. I believe I have met this craftsmanship with an understanding of function that was the driving force behind my making. I completed preliminary research regarding the person I wanted to make, while also engaging with frequent conversations with industry professionals. This meant I developed an independent and professional way of working. I was able to build on the narrative of the project further through alternate creative processes such as photogrammetry.
Consequently, I have finished my Final Major Project with an effective museum model portraying the significance of Edith Kramer through a representational narrative of authenticity and respect.