BAMS – Medal project – Initial maquette

After my initial idea sketches, I decided to make a series of maquettes out of clay to demonstrate my ideas in 3d.

IMAG1787One issue with this design that I have is that it seems to be very difficult to capture the form of a palm. While this may just be a matter of my sculpting skills, and these only being rough versions, with the final product being cast from the skin rather than sculpted, I am still concerned that the palm is a very plain and smooth surface that may not be recognisable. This may also just be a matter of my own palm and my body in general having very little definition, and perhaps I should look at casting another person with more distinctive features, but I would like to be able to use my own body as a basis for this medal as it is a response to my own personal experience.

Another issue is the outside of the medal. If I am to make the medal as two separate pieces that fit together, the outside of these people when they are shut is the only thing that will be visible from the outside, and therefore should be as strong a part of the design as the inside. At this point however the outside is merely an afterthought, which I don’t think is a strong basis for a medal and perhaps I would be better off going back to the drawing board design wise, but trying to keep hold of the original inspiration of touch and intimacy between two people. As well as this, I’m not entirely sure how I would keep the two parts locked together, the only mechanism I can think of off the top of my head is a twist lock mechanism, but this is a very unnatural gesture and I think it would make the person interacting with the medal more aware that it is an object that is separate from themselves, rather than allowing them to project themselves onto it.

One further concern is that this may be considered more of a locket than a medal, and having spoken to one of the third years who submitted for BAMS last year, their design was rejected for not being classified as a medal, which was also two separate pieces which interlocked. This is a very difficult area, trying to discern what is and is not “an artist medal”, considering that some of the examples on the BAMS website and especially on the V&A’s New Medalists page seem very counter intuitive as to what would be defined as a “medal”. It’s a difficult line when pushing the boundaries of a criteria, whether you then end up putting yourself outside the boundary altogether, and this is something that’s probably best for me to steer clear of for the time being. Considering that this is my first time designing and working with the idea of a medal, it would likely be better for me to focus on a more straightforward set up than to be trying to create something revolutionary without a solid basis to work on.

Sara Richards - Mouth to Mouth

Sara Richards – Mouth to Mouth

This is one of the medals which confuses me the most in terms of definition of a “medal”, although that’s not to say it doesn’t pique my interest. It completely removes convention of a flat, two sided round surface, and edge, reaching around in order to make a physical connection with itself. This is many ways a perfect representation of what I’m trying to capture, and completely overcomes my struggles with trying to capture touch, in a format where the two sides of the medal cannot touch one another. This medal demonstrates a closeness, of two intimate and recognisable parts of the body, the mouth, which are loaded with sexual connotations, and yet the mouths do not kiss, and are not even touching one another. They simply rest closely against each other, seemingly content in their proximity.

However, while this medal is strongly relevant to my ideas, I am unsure as to how to assimilate this into my own design. The format is so bold, and subverts the format of “medal”, I don’t think that I am bold enough to try and imitate it, and it is so distinctive that there are few elements that I could carry over into a more standard medal format.

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These are a few of the other maquettes, playing around with size, shape, thickness, whether or not to have a ringed edge, if so what kind of ring? I certainly have a better idea of the size of medal I want, I would like it to be able to fit in the hand comfortably, but not to small that you can hold it in your fist. A problem I found however in making these maquettes was that the clay was extremely difficult to work with. The particular clay I was using happened to be very wet, and it was far too soft to work with until it had been left to dry for several hours, and even then it did not hold it’s shape very well. This is most likely due to my lack of experience with clay, and I am probably using the wrong type of clay for sculpting, which will be something I’ll have to look into before doing further experimentation with designs. Certainly in terms of making fingerprints or imprints, it is far from a smooth and fluid movement and forces you to press hard to make indents into the surface, rather than running your fingers along and leaving a mark like butter.

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