The figure – wax, wire, plaster and found objects with Anna Gillespie

Ref: SLW13418

About this course

Model a figure in wax, wire, plaster and found objects. Learn the useful and adaptable skill of building an armature in aluminium sculpture wire and build the figure using a variety of materials.

Course Description

You will be working with a life model to create a figure or figures using a variety of materials including traditional modelling wax – a time honoured material which allows for both detail and accuracy as well as expression – plaster bandage, masking tape, new clay and found objects. These materials can be used as a form of vocabulary which can be mixed and matched to make both accurately observed sculptures and/or more expressive figures.

A key part of this course will be learning to make simple but effective armatures (under frames for sculptures) out of aluminium wire, which do not require welding. These armatures can be accurate enough for small figures and can also be scaled up or used with other materials once mastered - a really ‘transferable’ skill to take home with you.

You can choose whether to use the model for an observed study or simply as a starting point for something more expressive, as they will move between various poses so that there is a choice as to the mood and theme of the work you create. You will start with simple three-dimensional sketches in wire and the various materials to familiarise yourselves with them, and then move towards a more considered study or expressive piece as the course progresses.

Your tutor will encourage individual expression in your sculpture making as well as demonstrating techniques, giving group tuition and one-to-one support.

By the end of the course, you will have a completed figure or figures with an armature and learnt many transferable skills for making sculptures using wax, wire, plaster and found objects.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • On this course, the College will supply all of the materials, including wax, armature wire and wooden bases.
  • Large work in size and quantity may be charged extra.
  • The model who will sit for the duration of the course.

What students need to bring

  • Sketch pad should you wish.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A good variety of general drawing materials

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Anna Gillespie

Anna Gillespie is a figurative sculptor with some 30 years of experience, primarily showing her work in galleries although in recent years she has enjoyed collaborating to create photographic and dance works and installations.  She has worked in a variety of mediums including found tree materials such as acorn cups which she uses to express her love of the natural world alongside that of the human figure.  Anna is a member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and a West of England Academician.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.