You will need:
Bars of laundry soap – as large as possible
Newspapers (to protect surfaces)
Old cutlery, paperclips, lino-cutting tools, toothpicks and bits of wire – for carving with.
Hold your soap bar in your hands and think about the idea of a spirit guardian or guide. Let an image of a figure appear to you. What is the expression on his or her face? Is it an old or a young person or somewhere in between? Perhaps the figure has some animal characteristics? What feeling does the figure bring with him or her? Does the person have any distinguishing features, like heavy eyebrows, a beard or wings? Can you hear the person’s voice?
When you have an image in your mind, begin carving the soap using the tools available.
Once you begin carving, you may find that the figure you initially imagined, changes – either for technical reasons, or because it simply takes a different direction. Do not let that worry you. Trust the process, and allow a character to emerge.
You will need to keep a big section at the bottom of your sculpture as a base so that it will stand up. Remember that you are working in three dimensions: keep turning the soap around so that you give equal consideration to all sides of the image.
Consider the general proportions. Mark out where the main body parts are before you start carving. Don’t just scratch or engrave an image onto the surface of the soap: to create a nose or lips, for example, you’ll have to carve away the area surrounding them so that they emerge fully from the soap. Consider the use of negative shapes (the gaps between the legs for example). But take care not to make any section too thin – it could break off.
If you need to make the figure taller than one bar of soap allows for, use two bars – one bar on top of the other. Insert a piece of strong wire down the centre of both, to hold them together.
Always handle the sculpture carefully, whether it is standing or lying down.
Talk About This
Once you have completed your carving, give your sculpture a title or a name. Place all of the completed carvings on a flat surface carefully, so that they stand firmly. Introduce your figure to the group.
Can you describe the process that you went through in order to create your sculpture?
Did your ideas change during the visualisation or during the carving of the sculpture? What influenced these changes?
While you were carving, did you at any time feel as if you were revealing a figure that had “already been there”?
(It does not always happen that way!)