A Small Booker T. Washington- The Beginning


I must first create a wire armature similar to the ones in the picture. But what size?


With many of my small sculptures, I start with a simple metal armature.  I will put clay on top of this wire armature.  Eventually, you will see that I’ll be reverting to my Alice In Wonderland sculpting days, and it will be “OFF WITH HIS HEAD!”  It is just easier to work on a head that is not attached.  I’ll also cut off the hands and the feet.  But first, how big should we make the wire armature? There are lots of proportions that I need to take into consideration.  First, we have the photographs of Dr. Phillips in the chair.  I know the sculpture will be approximately 10 inches tall. I’m very visual. So, I xeroxed down a photograph of Dr. Phillips at 10 inches tall.  I have to be careful here. The image must be taken perpendicular to the subject, or it will change everything. Once there, I used string to see approximately how tall a man would be that is just 10 inches tall when he is seated.  I ran the string from his head through his shoulders. Then I went down to his hips up a leg and down to his feet. Once I had a measurement, I found images of a standing Booker T. Washington. Thank God for the Internet. It makes my job so much easier.

Screen Shot 2020-03-14 at 9.52.31 PM

Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon searched the internet for standing images of Booker T. Washington. She would use these to be able to get the proportions for a small sculpture.

Even though these images are of a Booker T. Washington at different ages, it still helps. I lined them up next to each other. I wanted his navel, head, and feet to align. This would help me with the general proportions of the man.  I also use Pinterest on my projects.  I created a Booker T. Washington  Pinterest page with the images that I found of Booker T.  I will refer to it often. Sometimes so much that I have to cover my lap top with something so clay does not get in the keyboard. You will also notice there are images on my Pinterest that are not of my subject. Sometimes, I’m just looking for clothing, or a fold or something of that nature, and it gets pinned to my Booker T. Pinterest page. I am chomping at the bit to get started. While I’m finishing up other jobs I instruct my assistant to put clay on the wire armature. Now the magic begins!

Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 2.48.18 PM

Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon begins a Pinterest Page so she can have reference. She uses this along with a Google Drive folder that holds the pictures of the principal.


Proportion is just one thing that Artist Bridgette Mongeon uses in her art that are STEAM related.  There are many types of math in a traditional artist’s studio. Here are some to explore.

What is the Golden Ratio? How have artists used it in their art?
Goldennumber.net has some information on Golden Ratio.


A sample page of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Books. With highlights from sculptor Bridgette Mongeon.

If you want to get really excited, look at the Fibonacci number in nature. When you are looking at these things, it is interesting to know there is something called Sacred Geometry? What does that mean? Where does this term originate?

Do you know other artists who worked with math, proportion in their artwork?
Check out the math in Escher’s work. Here is a video lecture from Gresham College  And another from Oxford Mathematics  on the work of Escher.

Leonardo DaVinci was not only a great artist, but he loved to document things like proportions and science.  Someone took his notebooks and translated them. You can see his original drawings in his notebooks here. You can also see the translations and images in the book called The Notebooks of Leanardo Da Vinci Volume 1 and 2. 

Author Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon



Leave a Comment