Proportional Caliper - my new BFF in the studio

using proportional calipers while sculpting ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

 The proportional caliper is an amazing tool and I'm not quite sure why I didn't start using it earlier. Stupid stubbornness perhaps, but likely I felt like my eye was pretty good and I didn't want to mechanically tie myself down to tedious measurements. Most especially since I tend to work loosely from the model and create what I see in my own mind more than what I see before me.

However - I can thank John Sherrill Houser for recommending this tool for his class and Victor Issa for for catching some proportional mistakes that weren't obvious but were nonetheless there.

I got my calipers at Sculpture Depot and they reduce to 1/5 or enlarge up to 5 times. I got the metal ones because they would fit into my luggage for the plane trip to Brookgreen, but I like the look of the Polycarbonate ones and will likely get them soon.

In a nutshell - you set the calipers for the scale of enlargement or reduction you need - you measure your object with one end and the opposite end will have the proper change of size. For instance, "Waiting on the #9" is a 1/4 scale sculpture. I set the sliding bolt at the 4 mark which allows me to measure the length of the back of the model's hand and the flip the tool over and use the corresponding 1/4 scale size to check the size on the sculpture. In this case - it was from the bend of the wrist to the first knuckle of the middle finger.

using proportional calipers while sculpting ©Lori Kiplinger Pandy

I also measured from the ankle bone to the middle of the knee and the width of the ankle bone. Constantly checking in this manner is a wonderful way to keep things in check and to identify an area that may be out of proportion. I'm in love with this tool and it's my new BFF of my studio and use it for many measurements throughout the entire figure.

That said - the caliper is a mechanical device and won't dictate exactly what I do. There are times when  deviating from the model's measurements is an artistic and deliberate choice made to enhance the figure, make the pose more dynamic and interesting or to make an artistic statement....as long as these choices are made by the artist and are not a product of accident or laziness.


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