September 8, 2013

Crucifix Process 2

More progress to report, but I'm still not to the "fun" part yet. Preparing this cross for painting and gilding is definitely going to be the most labor-intensive part. I began by sanding the layers of gesso (about 6 so far) and scraping them smooth with a blade. I made a multi-sheet printout of the sketch at the correct scale, taped the sheets together, and cut them out to make a cartoon. I put Jesus on the cross (oh, how true that is!) where he needed to be, then traced the contours of his arms. I trimmed off the excess with a jig saw (a recent investment), and planed and filed the edges as straight and smooth as I could get them.

This weekend I also purchased the molding that will go around the edges. I cut the first strip to size using a miter box and handsaw and adhered it to the top of the cross. Using some C-clamps and folded pieces of cardboard to soften the force of the clamp on the wood, I clamped the molding to the cross in several places for about 30 minutes.

I applied Elmer's wood glue to the back of each strip and
smeared it to cover the whole surface.

It's a learning process. I learned, for instance, that the cardboard was not very effective in preventing the clamps from denting the wood. So I had to remove the first strip of molding and discard it. It came off very easily, because it was glued to the gesso and not the wood itself. Which also taught me that I should have glued the molding to the cross before applying gesso. So now I'm scraping gesso off from around the edges before I glue the molding down.

I opted for the miter box and hand saw, instead of the
much larger investment of an electric miter saw. Plus,
it's easier to store, and does nearly as good a job.

I'm now using pink pearl erasers instead of cardboard, to
protect the moulding.
As I go along, I've also been filling the gaps in the plywood with wood filler, then sanding it smooth. I'm trying to get as even a surface as possible on the edges, since I plan to gild them. I'm still not sure if the end result will be as good as I'd like it to be. But for the full-size crucifix, I would probably have some sort of framework to attach the cross to, or else attach strips of hardwood to the outside edge.

That's all for now! I might be another week or two in putting on the rest of the molding and finishing the gesso.

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