Newsboy-Beginning Of The Large Newsboy Sculpture

November 8th-12th, 2004
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon documents the creating of a limited edition, bronze figurine and life-size Newsboy sculpture for the Texas Press Association. Bronzes are available for purchase in both sizes.

Bridgette Mongeon creates a life-size newsboy sculpture
Pipe and wire make up
the armature that will
hold the clay.

This week I started on the life size sculpture of the newsboy. As with the small newsboy, an armature needs to be built. Wire is not strong enough to hold the amount of clay that will be on the sculpture, and weight is often a problem, so the goal in making an armature for the large piece is strength and not too much weight.

The large wooden platform was first constructed. It was necessary to make this strong enough so that if necessary I could stand right on top of it. Next I examined the small wax sculpture. I decided I wanted the pipe to enter the body in the lower back, behind the right leg. It will be a little difficult sculpting on the left leg as it will be close to the pole but I have opted for this placement anyway. 

The armature in this large piece consists mainly of 3/4-inch plumbing pipe. I worked with the angles and pipe to configure the torso. If I had a welding machine in the studio I would have preferred to weld the armature together, using the angles that I need.

After figuring out the plumbing pipe I then added wire and chicken wire. In the chicken wire I added spray foam insulation. This stuff is very messy to work with but it really does a great job of adding volume without adding weight. After it dries I cut it away in the shape of the newsboy. I’ll be adding on about an inch or two of clay to this armature. I study the small wax and the large sculpture to be sure I have the correct size and shape.

Spray foam insulation
help to give the sculpture
mass without weight.

I have also added some flat foam pieces to the base of the sculpture. I am unsure if this life size piece will have a large base or sit flush with the ground. I would prefer it sit flush with the ground, so that it looks like the newsboy is walking in the grass, but that will depend on the client and the placement and many other variables. I have decided to put the base on the sculpture and if it is not needed I can cut it off in the wax. These flat foam pieces, which are really foam that you use to insulate, work like the spray foam. They add a little volume to the base. I could do the base with the clay but it would take more clay.

Clay is put on top of foam.

After the foam is cured I carve it to the correct shape. Then my assistant, Miguel, adds a thin layer of wax. This is an extra step that I take to prevent the little pieces of foam shavings from getting into the clay. I am a very tactile sculptor and I hate bits of things in the clay.

Now it is time to put on the clay. It is done the same way as the small sculpture. I heat the clay up in crackpots and add it to the armature in a frosting like manner. I usually have an apprentice do this work. They add the clay enough for me to come in and do the final detail. Working in this wax base clay at this scale is often very physical work. When it is cold the clay gets very stiff. Sometimes I will work with a hair dryer or even a torch to soften it to enable me to work.

I’m working on the head separately and will report on that next week. I have made quite a bit of progress.


I often will continue to do research as I proceed with the project. It helps to keep me motivated and interested, it keeps the passion alive.

When trying to research the amount of money that the young boy would be carrying in his pockets I tried to find out about the cost of a newspaper. Here is an article that introduced to the “Penny Press” The penny press offered lower income citizens an opportunity to read the news.

PBS has a link to a very interesting subject called yellow journalism.

Here is a source that states that the Sun was not the first newspaper to utilize newsboys.

History Buff also had a nice article about newspaper production 1892-1992

And if you do float around on the History Buff web site and read about newspapers, then try their newspaper-collecting quiz.

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