A friend who would like to make a maquette of her own design, has e-mailed asking how I go about constructing mine. This is a hard one to explain as it’s become an intuitive process for me. What I don’t do is make a finished drawing that I then cut up. That can’t work, because the components of the maquette need ‘overlaps’ in order to look correctly proportioned when assembled. Instead, starting with the head and neck, I begin cutting a template in thin paper that I ‘fill in’ with the briefest drawing as I go along. After I’ve got the head and neck pinned together successfully, come the shoulders, torso and arms. The hips and legs are fitted on, and finally I make the hands and feet. At each stage I cut the shapes freehand. Indeed there is much cutting, testing and adjusting for animation potential, then throwing away and re-cutting in order to get each part and its relationship to its neighbour just right. When this flimsy template is complete to my satisfaction, I label the back of each piece so that when I take it apart in order to use it as the pattern for the final, painted card version, I will know how to fit everything together. This labelling is vital as there can be upward of sixteen components in a single figure, quite a few of them confusingly similar, and the parts of a disarticulated maquette can be really difficult to identify and assemble correctly without a guide. Once I’ve made the card version of the maquette and fitted it with paper-fasteners, then I paint and assemble it.
When the Old Stile Press commissioned me to make images for the illustrated edition of Sir Peter Shaffer’s play Equus, we decided to do a very few ‘special’ copies that came boxed with a number of extra features. Each box contained an original drawing from my Equus notebooks, and an editioned lino-print that did not appear in the book. There was also an Equus maquette for each box, together with two printed sheets of the component parts, so that enterprising owners could cut up and assemble a figure for themselves. (I wonder whether anyone did.) I didn’t include instructions because there was the accompanying ‘made up’ version to copy. Here are images of the sheets that when cut out can be assembled into the Equus figure at the top of this post. If anyone decides to print them out and make up a maquette, do let me know how you get on. You’ll need to paste the paper print-outs onto thin card first, and purchase some paper fasteners from a stationary shop. I hide the paper fasteners by securing them at the backs of the maquette parts with small paper patches glued firmly in place. You need fourteen paper-fasteners for the Equus figure.
The component in the bottom left corner of the first sheet is glued into place along its top edge at the back of the figure, and this helps bulk out the torso at the join of chest to abdomen.
I trim the ‘arms’ of the paper-fasteners so that they’re only as long as needed. They’re made from very thin metal and I find I can cut them with a scissors once they’re in place. Just below centre and to the right can be seen one of the square paper patches glued into place to secure the paper-fastener heads.
There are really are no short-cuts to the making of maquettes. The figures can be simple or complex, with few moving parts or many, but they are complicated to design and make. (The more moving parts there are, the larger the maquette needs to be, so that all the joints may be fitted in.) Figures can have only one point of view, of which there are these basic choices.