Someone dear to me once told me, "You're not a model, you know."  The comment was an offhand one, but it cut.

I know that I don't look like a model.  I don't have the long legs that go up to my neck.  My figure is curvy, not lean and coltish.  My nose is too big and my cheekbones too undefined to be that sculpted face staring out from the pages of a magazine.

Which is why it's ironic and deliciously pleasing to me to know that I can model … not for some silly photo spread in a magazine, but for high art.

Yes, I am a model.  I can say that now with pride. Ever since meeting Brent and Shirley at the Erotica Expo, I've wondered what it would be like to model for Naked Art.  They had a sign-up list for models at the Erotica Expo, and I simply hadn't thought that my body would be suitable … until I got so many compliments in the bustier.

Brent and Shirley were ecstatic when I contacted them and asked them if they'd be interested in having me model for them.  They were looking for back models, and from the picture that Brent had taken me at Erotica, I might just be suitable.  But they would have to do a test sculpture first.  How about next Saturday at ten o'clock? 

They sent me a list of preparations that they ask each model to do before they come.  Eat a good breakfast, don't wear any underwear or tight-fitting clothing that will leave a mark on the skin, and bring a friend who can hold your hand, take pictures, and feed you lollies.

Reid agreed to be my sidekick after Glenn had to bow out due to an earlier commitment.  We arrived in Kaiapoi at 10am, and Brent was already in his plaster-splattered overalls ready to begin the day.  Their workshop is next to their house, in what looked like a standalone garage originally.  What was probably intended to be a small office had been converted into a gallery where bronze sculptures gleamed on every inch of the walls.  They giggled when they confessed that gallery also doubled as a guest room.  Their guests had quite an experience sleeping in a room with dozens of naked bodies around them!

Brent and Shirley had been doing this full time for four-years, and they had the first-time model initiation down to a T.  After showing us the sculptures and telling us about the models' experiences, they showed us a video of the plastering process and asked us if we had any questions.  Then, we stepped into another small room, heated so that the model would not feel uncomfortable, with a bathroom and shower just off from it.  The floor was splattered with plaster, and a "post" was set up in front of a photographer's blue-gray backdrop where the model would lean.

I'd sent Brent an image the night before of my favorite sculpture from the castle ruins in Aberstwyth, and he suggested that we try a smaller image of that. Brent and Shirley work closely with their models to develop a pose that suits the model's personality as well as their own aesthetic.  I was asked to go into the bathroom and put on a robe backwards (hospital-style)

Since the mold conforms to a model's out-breath, there's no point in tensing your muscles or holding a position that would be difficult to maintain over the fifteen to twenty minutes it takes for the entire process.  Brent and Shirley made sure I was comfortable and that the bucket of "goop" was ready before having me drop the robe.  If a model has a tendency to get goosebumps, they'll often have the model take off the robe a few minutes beforehand so that their skin can adjust to the room temperature.  Otherwise, the goosebumps will appear in the finished sculpture.

It felt a bit surreal to drop the robe and see myself naked, leaning against the post.  There is a mirror on the opposite wall so that the model can see every step of the process.  But Brent and Shirley immediately set about covering me with the warm "custard" that would be the first layer of the mold.  Shirley is left-handed while Brent is right-handed, so they each work on one side of the body, making the process go twice as fast.  Being a husband-and-wife team, they set the models at ease, and I completely forgot that I was naked at all.

I absolutely loved the blue color of the first layer of the mold.  While Brent and Shirley made Smurf jokes, I thought I looked like Lara Croft in the wetsuit immortalized by the second Tomb Raider movie.  Smearing the blue goop onto me took just minutes. 

Once that layer had set, they brought out a bucket of plaster.  The blue mold would set to the consistency of rubber, so they needed the hard plaster to keep the mold's shape.  The plaster was a dull gray color, and I was sad to see my beautiful blue "wetsuit" covered up.  It took just five minutes for the plaster to dry, and they were done.  As I giggled, the mold unstuck from my body, so that it fell away easily in Brent's hands.

Then it was off to the shower for me, while Brent took the mold to the open end of the workshop, where he painted the inside with the material that would form the cast.  It's important to create the cast immediately after creating the mold, since the mold shrinks 10% every hour.  Some models have wanted to use that to their advantage and have their body proportions shrink in the process!

The whole modeling session lasted just an hour.  Afterwards, we went to their house for coffee.  Brent and Shirley have three boys, ranging from age 8 to age 16, who look to be inheriting their parents' artistic talent.  Reid enjoyed getting tips on starting a small business from Brent.  Brent and Shirley have done Sue Edgecombe's workshops, and it was at one of her workshops four years ago that they got the courage to quit their day jobs and do this full-time.

That evening about four o'clock, I discovered a snapshot of the finished cast in my inbox. There I was in sculpture!

What a fantastic, fantastic experience. No one ever dreams of being a model in sculpture, but I'd just discovered a new side to myself.  So what if I couldn't be a model on the cover of Vogue?  My body could be the mold for a anonymous thousand-dollar sculpture sitting in an art gallery in New York, or the bronze torso sitting in an alcove at a winery.  Yes, I liked Naked Art, and best of all I liked that fact that from this day forward I can say that I've done some modeling.  Amy

Thank you Amy....would you like to be a model???

We employ models that are over 18 years of age,  give us a call if you are interested,

Brent & Shirley Cairns   65a Cass Street   Kaiapoi  North Canterbury  ph/Fax (03) 327-0066  

Want to be a model - click here to email us here


The process - from the models perspective

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