Knockoff Sculpture

Look, copying from master craftsmen is a perfectly acceptable practice, right? So I saw and adored this series of concrete sculptures from David Umemoto, and wanted to make my own. What better pandemic pasttime?

Here’s the original sculpture I wanted to try to copy:

David Umemoto sculpture

Figuring out how to make an inverted version of this, the negative space that I could pour concrete around, pretty much broke my brain. There were a lot of spreads in my sketchbook that looked like this:

sketchbook process sketchbook process

First I realized that I could build myself a set of negative shapes, so I got a bunch of stock wood and started making myself building blocks. These involved a lot of cutting and sanding, and at the end of the day I had a bunch of wooden blocks.

sketchbook process

Then it was just a matter of building the reverse version, and putting it in a mold. It went… OK? I had a few attempts that failed miserably because I didn’t build in sufficient wiggle room to get the wooden blocks out, and then destroyed the concrete trying to get out all the molded parts. I applied generous sprays of Pam cooking spray, but who knows if that helped.

sketchbook process sketchbook process

I suppose the original artist must use nylon pieces or something, but at the end of the day I had a draft I was happy enough to keep:

sketchbook process

Lots of room for improvement, primarily getting a smoother finish on the concrete, and getting much sharper edges and corners. Also finding a better way to get it all the negative mold shapes out cleanly. Maybe coating the individual pieces of block in some kind of wax?

sketchbook process