Newsboy-Beginning The Small Sculpture

Sept 5th-7th, 2004—
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon has documented the entire process of creating a figurine of a newsboy and a life-size bronze sculpture. Watch the artist work through these posts. In this blog, she has also included information for students and teachers. In the previous post, we learned about the meeting with the Texas Press Association.

If you are lost and want to go back to the chronological running list of posts, follow this link.

I stopped by Dusty’s to get the model release form signed by his mom and to take some more measurements. I take measurements of his basic body type, ankle to knee, knee to hip etc. Then I also go ahead and take all the portrait measurements. I don’t often need all of these measurements, but it does help to have them.

Newsboy sculpture created by Bridgette Mongeon
Taking measurements of Dusty

Today I made a wire armature for the small sculpture. I have decided to use the scale of 2 inches equals 1 foot. Basically, Dusty ends up being about 10 inches tall. In sculpting, the armature makes a big deference. They are especially important when I start doing the large piece. This armature is made with flexible wire. I utilize my measurements to help me be sure I have made it correctly. The armature should be slightly smaller so that I can add clay.

A wire armature

After the armature is complete I will begin adding clay to it. I have two types of clay that I work in consistently. I prefer using wet clay, however, I opt for using a wax based clay on this project. Both have their advantages—the wet clay lets me sculpt differently and adds so much to the sculpting process. The wax based clay is harder to put on and needs to be heated in a crock pot, but I do not have to keep it wet like a sculpture created in wet clay, nor is there any shrinkage. When creating a sculpture that will be around the studio for a while, wax based clay is the choice. Some day I will find the best of both clays, a wet clay that has the good characteristics of wet clay, while retaining the longevity of the wax clay.

The wire armature is covered with hot wax.

Creating the form over the armature is a lot like frosting a cake. However, you don’t want to drip this cake batter on you. It causes a nasty burn.

Today I alternate between the armature, the small Dusty, and the other commissions that are at my studio and need to be completed.

creating a miniature and life size newsboy bronze sculpture

I am a stickler for detail. I mentioned before that I did not particularly care for the costume that we had for our first photo sitting. The bottom of the pants seems wrong. They should be buckles or buttons and not elastic. I have researched the period clothing and found this wonderful web site totally dedicated to historical boys clothing. There is an entire page about knickers. My interest, once again, was peaked when I read that little boys wore shorts and older boys wore knickers. However, when boys matured to manhood they often put away their knickers in an almost ritualistic manner as a sign of going from boyhood to manhood. I could float around on the Historical Boys Clothing website forever, but I sure wish their photos came up. I have e-mailed the webmaster for help in my research.

There is wonderful story in the page about knickers about a man who immigrated to this country from Greece in 1925. He recounts wearing knickers.

Pockets? There must be pockets. How would the boys collect their money? It would be great if I could somehow show coins in the pocket of the newsboy.

Type of material? Even though this sculpture will be bronze, the type of material does matter. If you think about it, the folds in velvet, as compared to corduroy, silk or wool, all appear to be different. A good sculptor can capture the material by the way the folds are sculpted.

Suspenders? I will have to find the correct suspenders for the project. The search is on.

Sleeves? I sure wish the sleeves had some give to them, so they could either be pushed up or rolled up, if I decided it added to the sculpture. I know all of this sounds like a lot of work to go through, but the preparation for this is important. I could begin the sculpture process without the reference, however, taking time here will make my job easier down the road. It will also add life to the piece.

I am perplexed by not being able to find the absolute correct costume. So I take a trip to Joanne’s fabric shop. I’ll make what I am looking for if I can not find it. But, to my dismay, there are not any patterns for a newsboy costume, not even knickers! Back to the Internet. The women at Joanne’s tells me that you can get all sorts of patterns from e bay on the Internet. My quick search leaves me feeling a little more restless so I decide to sleep on it. Unlike many other commissions, I am not rushed. This gives me time to do what is necessary, and in the mean time the sculpture ferments in the creative intuitive part of my brain.

An artist friend hears about my costume dilemma through e-mail and offers the terrific suggestion of contacting the costume, department of the local university. If they don’t have a costume maybe a student will help me to prepare one.

…Contacting the local university doesn’t seem to be working. They have odd hours and we keep playing telephone tag. An actor friend of mine suggests the Alley Theater, and she said she would see what she could do. I would love to have my reference photos yesterday, but I am forced to wait. So I begin to think…is the other costume that bad? It is only the knickers and the straps that are a problem. I can modify the pants legs in clay, but I must have those suspenders. Having the two button suspenders in the front will create an entirely different pattern of folds and tension. I am counting on the tension, especially in the left leg. The tension of those folds draws the eye up to the hand, the face, and the paper. It is an essential design element. I believe I can find the suspenders and use them with the original costume modifying the pockets and below the knee as necessary. But I must first exhaust all options.

Let’s move onto the next section about sculpting the small newsboy.


• What do the Dutch settlers have to do with the pants of the Newsboy? (Hint check out the link above for knickers)
• What was the Knickerbocker Number Nine?
• What happened to the boy that immigrated to the United States. Why couldn’t he wear his knicker any longer? Has that ever happened to you?

• If you had to do this research, where would you look?

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