Hello, thanks for the wonderful site, and sorry, this is going to be a really long post, as I have a few different questions... So, I'm nearly finished with my first sculpt... like, ever... It's a helmet that is supposed to be really smooth (and, no, it's not another Iron Man ) and I plan on making it wearable. To that end, I'll be molding it in the very near future (first time for that, also, but that's a completely different topic), but first I need to do the smoothing and the finishing work (detail lines, re-refining of edges that are destroyed during smoothing, etc.).
At any rate, I've been in the process of smoothing for the last several days. I'm using Chavant NSP medium clay, and, and I'm having a rather terrible time of it. I've got the shape the way I want it, and it's pretty symmetrical (as near as I can make it, anyway, I don't have an eye for such things as yet). A lot more clay than I expected has been coming off, but I don't want to strip away too much of the shape with the constant scraping that I find myself doing. Even worse, many times when I go over it with the metal scraper, the clay ends up sticking to it and coming off, leaving awful lumps, streaks, scratches, and pock marks all over the model, putting me pretty much back where I started. Is there any way to prevent this? Am I using the wrong tool for the job? Perhaps the clay is too warm or too cold?
Would it help or be easier to sponge on some odorless mineral spirits/white spirit at this point, and try to smooth out the "melted" clay? I've got some, but from everything I've read (and I've been researching A LOT) that is the absolute final step before molding, and I don't want to get ahead of myself. I've also read that some people put on a coat or two of primer to aid in smoothing, but I desperately need to re-use the clay, and I don't want to ruin it with too many chemicals.
And just how smooth is "smooth enough" before I begin molding? The final product should be shiny-smooth, and I've seen hints of this result using the flat part of the scraper (which is quickly ruined when I go over it trying to remove the imperfections), but perhaps I'm putting too much work into this step. I'll be casting it in Smooth Cast plastic, so is it perhaps better to try and smooth it out with some fine-grit sandpaper after I cast it? I have tried sanding at this point, but that does not turn out well. Perhaps if I refrigerate the model first, or maybe use a different grit of sandpaper? Is there a material that can be used on clay that would work like sandpaper?
Again, sorry for the long post, I've been working on this thing for over a year, so it's kind of been on my mind for a while. Granted, I've never sculpted anything before, so I may have picked something a little too ambitious for my first project, but any advice anyone may have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks much!!