2015 Moleskines – part 24

After a loooooong hiatus, I’m back with another installment of 2015 moleskine sketches.  I should get on my own case about not keeping up on these like I had planned at the beginning of the year.  But I’ve been keeping busy with work, my son and improving my artwork (and some projects I’ll get into later) so I don’t feel so bad about it.

But before I delay some more, here are six sketches to show from back in May and July.  I know – not that many.  So I better get back to work!











joshhagen_july17-3That’s the end of the sketches for now.  More to come.

Stay tuned!

Larry, Moe, and Curly Trolls – part 3

The Stooge Troll sculptures are all finished and delivered to be shown at the Pekin Days Art Show.  Really happy how they turned out.  Lot of fun to work on.

Larry – final paint, hair and tail added, and a few feathers in his teeth:

joshhagen_larrytrollcolor1One thing that I didn’t go into in my previous posts was the hair work.  I usually add fake hair for my troll sculptures.  But for these three troll sculptures I wanted to do something different.  My uncle sent us some feathers that he took from some wild turkeys that he hunted.  Something I did not know about wild turkeys is that the toms (males) have beards!  Not from their beaks of course, but from their breast.

Photo (via R.G. Bernier):

dsc_2864I had no idea about this, but there it was mixed in with the feathers that he sent us.  It really is a big thick mass of long thick ‘hairs.’  I imagine it’s similar to the feathers in what it’s made of but I’ll leave that to the bird experts.

What I ended up doing was taking a thick beard hair and punching holes in the unbaked clay.  That way when it was baked, I could then re-insert the hairs into the sculpture and glue them into each hole permanently.

It worked for the most part.  Some of the holes got a little filled up when I painted it.  I took some toothpicks and cleared them out.  Time consuming, but it all worked out in the end.

And here are a few shots of Larry all finished:







Next up is Moe.  Here’s his final paint, hair done (he had the most and it was time consuming to get them all in there!), and tail added:joshhagen_moetrollcolor1

I really like this painting technique that I came up with utilizing just a paper towel.  I used it with many layers of thin acrylic paint and it gives me exactly the effect I was looking for:

Moe finished with his leather shorts and straps added:joshhagen_moetrollfinal1




Curly’s final paint with hair and tail as well:joshhagen_curlytrollfinalcolor2


And here’s the adorable fellow with his sagging leather shorts falling down:joshhagen_curlytrollfinal1

Gotta hold ’em up!:joshhagen_curlytrollfinal2


joshhagen_curlytrollfinal4I had a blast working on these guys!  They all turned out even better than I thought they would.  It all flowed just right from start to finish.  All three (as well as my 10 troll magnets) will be on display at the Pekin Days Art Show starting tonight at the Artist’s Reception.  Public viewing starts tomorrow through Sunday.  If you’re in the area and you get a chance to come by, please do!  There really is a ton to see.  Not just the gallery, but all the outdoor artists and demonstrations.  Also music and food and more!

Larry, Moe, and Curly Trolls – part 2

I really enjoyed working on these stooge trolls for the Pekin Days Art Show.  I was able to explore some new techniques and refurbish some others.  But best of all, I really liked working on their personalities.

As you can see here, Larry got his nose job.  I just shoved in a section of copper wire into his nose and that did the trick.  And you can see he’s now holding a pen.  Since I wanted him to be holding the straps to his bag, I wanted to use the pen to keep his hands in place while I sculpted them.  The pen is nice and smooth so it’s easy to shimmy out of his hands before baking.  The piece of fabric I have is a section of firm canvas that I used to create the texture for his overalls.  It worked pretty good:

On both Moe and Curly I used texture stamps.  These old stamps were ones that I purchased back in Los Angeles when I first got there.  I was looking around fx shops to intern at (and work for after) and was stocking up on supplies.  I picked these up before I knew how easy they were to make.  Ah well.  I’ll come up with a how-to post some time in the future on these.  Anyways, I took these out of storage and they came in pretty handy for my stooge trolls.  Each troll used a different stamp.  Moe got his…:


And Curly got his.  Curly had all those growths and saggy skin so this “veiny/wrinkly” stamp worked well:

I got them to the point that I wanted them in terms of sculpting.  Next I removed the pen from Larry’s hands and baked them;

Something I didn’t mention earlier in this post (but I went over it in the Little Buddy troll post), was attaching their tails.  The coiled rope behind them is what I’ve been using for their tails.  I cut off a section and stick it in their lower backs while sculpting.  Then I remove it and clean it up.  That gives me a nice pre-sized hole to snuggly fit the tail I make for them after:joshhagen_bakedtails

After baking, it’s on to the painting.  And the first step is to come up with a good paint scheme.  I wanted to have each of them based in the primary realm.  Red for Moe, Yellow for Larry, and Blue for Curly.  The one the changed the most down the road was Larry – he turned out green.  But it was still based in Yellow and I think that came through:

My next post for these guys will be on finishing up the paint, adding leather, adding tails and even feathers for Larry.

Stay tuned – More to come!

Larry, Moe, and Curly Trolls – part 1

In the last few posts, I showed how I made my Troll Magnets for the Pekin Days Art Show.  I thought I would next show how I created my three other pieces for this gallery show.  My Larry, Moe, and Curly Trolls.

First off, I started with a steel wire armature.  I used a drill to twist the wire.  I didn’t get any photos of this method.  I’ll try to remember that for a future post.  After that, I bulk out the armature with aluminum foil and put it into the pose I’m shooting for.  It might change a bit, but I try to keep it how I planned initially.

Here’s Curly.  I wanted him to be picking his belly button with one hand and holding up his pants with the other: joshhagen_curlyarmature

Here’s Larry.  I wanted him to be sneaking off with a bag full of poached birds:joshhagen_larrymarmature

And here’s Moe.  I wanted him to be roaring while peering off the side of a rock/cliff:joshhagen_moearmature1

Here you can see that I added thin copper wire to the armature’s arms to form the hands and fingers.  I did this because this wire is thinner and therefore more appropriate for the smaller appendages.  And it’s also softer, making it easier to pose and adjust later on:joshhagen_moearmature2

I added on the initial thin layer of clay:joshhagen_3clay1

The first sculpt I worked on of the three was Curly.  I had this idea of making him deformed and having all sorts of growths and hanging fatty skin and such all over him.  Lot of fun to sculpt.  Did most of it while watching a couple things on Netflix the first night.  Next to Curly is Larry with his temporary head and the tiny eyes I made for him:

And here’s a better shot of Curly’s progress.  Pretty much have the form where I wanted it:joshhagen_curlyprogress

And here’s some progress on Larry.  As you can see he needs a bit of a nose job. I ended up inserting a wire into that schnoz of his later on to get it to stick out and keep the rhythm of his pose consistant:joshhagen_larryprogress

Moe ended up getting beheaded not too long after I started on him.  He started out looking more humanoid than I wanted him to.  Kind of a troll-hulk looking guy.  So, I went in a completely different direction:joshhagen_moebeheaded

Here you can see what I meant by a different direction.  I gave him a huge head with no neck.  His giant head basically comes right out of his chest.  I think it lends itself so much better to the pose and the overall character:joshhagen_moeprogressThere was a lot more work that I did on these.  The next post will show more about how I finished them off and detailed the skin.

More to come!  Stay tuned!

Creating Troll Magnets – part 3

After baking these little guys, it’s time to paint them.  I use several layers of watered down acrylic paint for most of them.  The eyes and teeth are less watered down, but I really enjoy the effect I get with layering thin layers of paint.  Gives it a lot more depth in my opinion.

First off, I decide on the overall color each troll magnet will be.  I paint that on lightly and dab it off with a paper towel.  It gives me a base color to start from.  The paper towel is also something I use when painting to give the paint more of a textured look to it.  I find that helps a bit when painting skin with acrylic.  More on that technique in future posts.

First layer of paint:


Another technique that I use is spattering thin paint on with a toothbrush or a stiff bristle paint brush.  Again, my goal is to create depth and more interest in the skin and this I think helps a lot.  It’s a skew on a technique that I learned from a class I took from Jordu Schell:

I continue to add layers until I like where it is.  Then I paint in the teeth and eyes.  Lastly, I take care of any touch ups and then clear coat them all to protect them:


And they’re all done.  This is my second set of 10 Troll Magnets that I’ve done.  They’re a lot of fun to do and people seem to like them.  This set will be available at the Pekin Days Art Show.  If you’re in the area, you should check it out.  It’s a great big art show crammed into a tiny little town.  You’d be surprised how much they can pack in there for this event!  These little guys will be in the $25 and under section.  That’s right – I’m selling each of these critters for $20!  Get ’em while you can!

I also have three larger sculptures in the main gallery section.  Also trolls.  :)  Full body sculptures with tons of ‘bells & whistles’ thrown in!  I named them “Larry,” “Moe,” and “Curly” after the Three Stooges.  Mind you, they don’t look like the Stooges.  They have their own personalities.  I’ll show the process as to how I made them in future posts and you’ll see what I mean.

Until then, stay tuned!  More to come!

Creating Troll Magnets – part 2

A bit of a delay getting part 2 up.  I’ve been finishing up three more troll sculptures for the Pekin Days Art Show (which these magnets will also be a part of).  My next posts will be of these next sculpts which I’ve named – “Moe,” “Larry,” and “Curly.”

Okay, on to the next part of creating Troll Magnets!

At the end of the last post, these little guys were getting close to being done.  I had some cleaning up and some detailing to do, but the characters were all there and most of the decisions on their looks were complete.  Here you can see that they’re cleaned up and smoothed.  Also the ears are complete and there’s some warts thrown in on a few of them:


If you’ve worked with super sculpey you might have your own technique when it comes to baking your pieces.  But here’s a few from me…

– First off, I usually try to sculpt on top of my baking tray or at least on top of some aluminum foil.  That way when I go to put it in the oven, I don’t have to touch the finished sculpture and possibly leave a fingerprint or otherwise mar some fine detail.

– When it comes to actually baking the piece (or pieces), I put them in a cold oven.  Only after I’ve put them in do I turn it on.  I find that this helps to gradually heat the entire sculpt up evenly and helps to prevent thicker areas from cracking.

– Both regular super sculpy and super sculpy firm say to bake at 275 F.  It also says to bake for 15 minutes for every 1/4 of thickness.  I usually bake it at 220 F and I leave mine in for hours.  Why?  Just experience.  I first started using this material in college and went along with what the boxes said.  I also would pre-heat the oven.  My sculptures would end up cracked and burned at the thinner areas.  I found that gradually heating the sculptures to a lower temperature took care of possible cracks (most of the time).  It also allowed me to to bake it longer to ensure it’s nice and solid without burning them.

Here they are all baked.


No cracks on this set.  I let them finish cooling and then I start to add the magnets.  They can be tricky to behave since I have them all so close together, but taking the time beforehand to leave the magnet indentations really helps.  I do one magnet at a time per sculpt to allow them to dry before I place the next.  It all goes smoothly:

After all the glue is dry, I use my fingernail to try and pry them up.  None of them move so it’s on to the stress test.  I place them all on the side of one of my filing cabinets and slide them around, pull them off and stick them back on to see if the magnets are nice and strong.  Lastly I bang on the filing cabinet around them (while gritting my teeth).  After wiping my brow I am confident that they all are ready to paint:joshhagen_trollmagnets_done4

In the next post I will show my process that I’ve been refining for painting these little guys.

More to come.  Stay tuned!

Creating Troll Magnets – part 1

Last year I sculpted up a set of Troll Magnets that sold pretty well.  (I only have two left at our store)  I thought that I would continue the series with another ten designs.  This set is a little larger and will have a different paint scheme than the last.

Last year’s set (original set):

Troll Magnets

Troll Magnets

Troll Magnets

Troll Magnets

Troll Magnet

Troll Magnet

On to the sculpting!

I start these magnets using a method I came up with myself through a bit of trial and error.  I have a large number of tiny neodymium magnets that I’ve been using in these sculpts – 3 per troll.  I start with making three indentations with the magnets in ten flat slabs of clay that I then bake.  I use these as the base that I sculpt the troll on top of.  I could just sculpt the whole thing with the magnets inside, but I didn’t want to take a chance and have the heat of the baking process affect the strength of the magnet.  I know that a heated magnet looses strength, but I didn’t know if that carries on after it cools.  Any science geeks out there know?

Anyways, this method works pretty well.


I also make a ton of eyeballs and teeth/fangs.  Just really simple rough shapes that work well as teeth or fangs.  I then bake those.  Far easier to have hard eyes to sculpt around than constantly fixing marks and dents in soft eyes.  And the plus side to having pre-baked teeth is that when you insert them, you have the gum area bulge around them as they do in a real mouth.


And here we have everything in the early stages.  I used a mix of super sculpey firm and regular super sculpey.  When I do a set of sculpts like this that I will be selling, I want to make sure that even though each face will be very different than the next, I want the amount of clay used to be uniform.  So I start off with a ball of clay that I try to use all of.  I overdid these a bit and ended up using maybe 85% of each.  I still stayed pretty uniform across the board with how much I used for each sculpt.

My first stage of actually sculpting is mainly picking eyes and finding a personality for each troll character.  I want them all to be unique.  And I want each to be interesting.  There’s a bit of going back and forth for a couple, but most come about pretty quickly.  I really enjoy this early stage of sculpting because it’s where all the personality comes out.


After all the forms have been figured out (adding the teeth/fangs and ears along the way), I go back and refine the forms.  And here you can see the rough designs for this new set of Troll Magnets.


In the next post I will show the next steps I take in making these critters.

More to come.  Stay tuned!