-By Tim Bruckner
I was commissioned by connoisseur and collector, Don Bohm, to sculpt a Superman bust of my own design. While working with DC Direct I sculpted thirty-nine different Superman pieces, both action figures and statues. Several I got to design, but they all had to fall within the guidelines of what DC determined was their product parameters. So, the opportunity to design a Superman without it having to be tied to a specific artist, current storyline or the latest incarnation was very appealing.
I have a Jones for bases. There I said it. I like a base that lifts and informs the piece mounted on it. There are instances when a traditional base does just that and sometimes, depending on the subject, a traditional base can be downright perverse. In designing Don’s Superman, I wanted the base to give the piece presence without it weighting it down.
The first design was a steel clad cylinder with the Superman logo suspended in it. It took me days to figure it out. It was only after I made the damn thing that I realized I’d under appreciated the lens effect. After some jerry rigging, I got it to work. Sort of.
Back to the drawing board. I sketched out a few more designs, none of which really worked with the piece.
I wanted the bust to be mounted on a clear cast unit but wasn’t sure how to work that into the complete base. Don and I got on the phone, throwing ideas around. He suggested we use a blue tinted resin as opposed to a red tinted resin. And that turned things around. I sketched out a few more ideas and we settled on one that seemed to work really well.
I constructed the base in two parts, the cradle and the shield. The cradle was made out of 1/8” styrene sheet; glued, sanded and primed. The shield was a bit trickier. I built a form out of heavy card stock, sprayed the interior with mold release and cast urethane into it. With the basic form in resin, I sanded and patched it and then cut out the “S” from 20 gauge sheet wax and spray mounted it onto the form and primed it.
Note: There’s a mold release specifically designed to release silicon from silicone. By spraying both primed parts liberally with that release, I was able to get clean molds without any of the primer becoming bonded to the interior of the mold.
I cast both parts in resin and put them up on the table to make sure they fit and that the clear cast was the right density.
I finished the cradle with a hammered steel spray. For the shield, after sanding and buffing it out with 000 steel wool, I masked off the “S” interior shapes, gave them several coats of gloss varnish and then airbrushed in a few coats of a darker blue transparent glaze. With the masks removed I gave the entire shield several more coats of gloss which really helped increase its transparency. Note: There are several kinds of clear resins. The two basics are semi-clear and water clear. The A side of the semi-clear has a light amber tint to it and needs to be countered with the addition of a small amount of purple or lavender tint. I used the semi clear for the shield. The water clear offers a very clear casting but is really expensive and is a pain in the ass to use.
Don’s completed bust mounted on the “S” shield base. Next, the creation of the bust from sketch to clay, to wax to resin, to Paint Master.