Monday, August 29, 2011


Good old Irene kept us a bit busy but while we awaited her arrival, I had a full day to just work on the rest of this piece. A big "sorry" to the folks who were coming to sculpt all day with me in the studio but better safe than driving home in that mess! Here are some of the hilights;

Started the day by giving her skin a wash of Adobe Red Acrylic mixed with extender to add just a bit of color and depth to her green skin.

Took a stroll up stairs to my fabric storage area and pulled a bunch of textured black fabrics which I may use for the dress. Spread then out over the table so I can pick and choose as I go.

Changed the length of the support rod and added a base before I started layering fabrics.


 This entire outfit will be glued to her using parts of old clothing from the local thrift shop. To start, I choose a thin fabric with a black-on-black pattern for the sleeves. These are taken from the sleeve of a blouse so the bottom hem is already sewn for me. They are cut to fit around the widest part of the upper arm and are long enough to give me some puffiness at the shoulder.
The sleeve is glued in place on the underside of the arm.
 It wraps around and is folded under and glued down to make the seam up the underside of the arm.
A black leather upper arm brace  is laid in place and stitched on the arm using  waxed cotton cord and a large leather needle. It is tied off and a drop of super glue is used to secure the bow so it does not come undone.
A ruffle of lace is added under the edge of the leather brace at the elbow. This is ripped off the larger piece and the raw edge is torched to give it a "witchy, worn look".

A bodice is glued onto the torso. The top edge is already seamed and the bottom is left as a raw edge.
The first layer of shirting is a textured black satin which is wrapped around the hips and glued in place with a little leg showing. It is long enough to hide the support rod. The second layer is a front piece of lace which is gathered between the legs to obscure the crotch. it is treated with a flame like the smaller pieces at the elbows of the sleeves.
I have added the first section of the leather vest as well. It is a standing collar of leather which is turned under and secured to her neck.
 This is the material from which the bodice was cut. It will be used for the shirt as well. It is a multi-layered piece from a woman's vest.
Decided I should take a moment to finish some of the broom before I lay the skirts in place. The broom is a layer of raffia which is glued onto the brass support rod and wrapped and tied in place with another piece of raffia. 
The final layer of the skirt is attached and the skirt is glued to itself so it sweeps up and back to give a look of movement.

Sorry for the bad shot! Wanted to show the vest. It is made of three parts. The collar - as noted above.  The body - which covers the back and wraps around over the shoulders to the armpits and wraps around the sides to the front. And lastly, the straps which are attached across the front and secured with decorative tacks.
I included this shot to show the finished dress and the translucent quality of the monkey's wings. The monkey has had his fur attached at this point.
The base and support rod have been painted black and the broomstick has been wood-grained.
Next her hair is applied and a leather hat is crafted for her head.
Her boots are also added.

 I added these photos so you can see the layers of different black fabric The high camera settings burn out the face but show the dress well.
 Here you can see the hat.
 The front layers of fabric.

This is the finished piece in a large format "moody" photo.
Thanks for watching.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Hi! As a general rule about myself, if I do not keep working on a piece until it is done it never gets finished. I stopped work on Red and the Wolf and started a few other pieces over the last few weeks. Not really sure where I am going with them. Decided to paint them and perhaps it would inspire me to work on the. So, here is the finished painting (except eyebrows).

 Both figures were wiped-down with acetone to remove finger prints and open the pore of the clay for painting. Red was painted with a wash of extender/retarder and Adobe Red acrylic paint which was brushed on the wiped off. An other layer of red was dry-brushed onto the cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose. I also do the same to the high spots of the body.
The wolf is painted with a wash of Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, and extender/retarder which was wiped off. The same mix was then used to darken the lupine parts of the wolf while the human parts are left slightly stained.
Bad shot, sorry! lips are done with the same red wash but left a little thicker. Eye makeup is done just like street make up but done with paint rather than powders. You can use powders if you wish. I prefer to paint since my training is in theatre make up which acts more like paint than powder make up does.
They are ready to have their hair attached. Perhaps this weekend. Now back to Elphaba!
Have a great day!

Monday, August 22, 2011

ELPHABA (Day 2: Bat Wings and clay sculpting)

In the last post we worked on our design and soldered the armature together. Yesterday I was able to work on the barn then get some work done in the afternoon on the clay application. (OK- I got a lot of work done on the clay)

I started with the monkey so I had a finished piece to attach to her wrist. The monkey is sculpted completely then cured in the oven or with the heat gun. Once he is cured, I use the heat gun to superheat his entire body so the stress from the wing support wire will not crack him later.
 The monkey from the side.
 The wings for this guy are going to be made of Translucent Liquid Sculpy. First, I crinkle a piece of heavy foil to act as the support for the wing while it cures. The creases in the foil make the final product look like it has veins in the membrane.

 The foil is shaped to the underside of the wing and tight against the body.
 TLS is applied.
 It is then smoothed out with a brush so the struts are covered and the membrane is uniform in thickness.
The first layer is cured with the heat gun.
 I have then repeated the process until I have three layers of cured TLS on the wings. The wing is cooled and the foil peels of the back easily. In this photo the left wing has been trimmed with a pair of scissors.
The monkey in flight.

The translucent quality of the wings shows nicely this way. I will color them later.

 The broom stick is covered with clay and cured with the heat gun.
 The clay is conditioned. Clay is ready when you can flatten the clay and the edges do not crack. This clay is part Baby ProSculpt and part Green colored Bake and Bend Sculpy.
 The armature is covered with the conditioned clay to a depth of about 3/8".
 The details are then sculpted and cleaned up for curing. You will notice that the body is not very well detailed as I will be clothing her from head to toe.
The face is modeled after the daughter of a doll artist Kelly and I met at show.
 Since she will have a tight bodice in her dress, her breasts need to be pressed together and up so they look more realistic before the dress is applied. the feet are shaped as supports for the stye of shoe I will add later in leather.
From the back. The sculpture is suspended above the broom so fabric can be inserted under her backside.
 You may be able to see the depression as her thigh muscle and skin are pressed against the broom stick. Again, note the gap between the broom and the buttocks.

 The final fit of the monkey into her wrist. The tube at the wrist is left exposed so he can be inserted and removed. Any misfit can be covered with the sleeve of her garment.

All ready to throw into the oven. Thanks for dropping by, have a great day!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

ELPHBA (Day 1 Design/Armature)

The other day I got a message from Blogspot saying that I had enough views on the blog that they wanted to offer me a chance to make money by placing ads on the pages. Well, I looked into this; ya know, it would be great to collect money if I didn't have to sell anything. However, I have no control over the type of ad which they would place on my pages and I think it is nice to have one place in the world where you can come and look (and learn) without Viagra and car commercials being shoved in your face. Therefore, I shall resist the urge to make money off this blog. If you truely feel you are getting something of value here and want more details, then buy my book or the DVDs. Otherwise, just keep dropping by and enjoying a moment of fun!
Thanks, Mark

In the spirit of getting something for nothing, lets start a new piece.
I want to make a little something Halloweenish but also rooted in popular culture (easier to sell!) so I have decided to keep adding to my "Wicked" set by creating the Wicked Witch of the west with a flying monkey. In the book by Gregory Maguire, Elphaba is duped into creating the flying monkeys and decided to free them so they cannot be used for the Wizard's evil intent. (great books!) By the Way, the rest of the set has sold except for the Lion and the Wizard (Thanks to The Toy Shoppe and the great folks working with Barrie and Danny!) so I will be remaking different figures to restock the set.
So, here is the design:

The witch will be supported by a steel rod in her dress. The monkey will attach to her wrist as if he is flying beside her.

The armature looks something like this:
The base will need to be either large or heavy to keep the cantilevered piece from falling over.
The support rod is 7/32 steel with the end shaped to fit into a piece of square stock brass which is soldered to the broom.
The broom is 7/32 brass with two additional tubes inside for strength without being solid brass to reduce the weight.

The figure armature is 5/32 tubing with 14 gauge wire inside. The torso/legs are made as a unit and are attached to the broom with a small gap between the figure armature and the broom so there is room for the foil padding and clay.

The front arm (left) is soldered to the Torso/leg armature and to the broom.

The support arm (right) is attached to the torso/leg armature as well but also runs to the broom so the monkey's support runs from wrist to broom - not from wrist to torso so the load is transferred to the broom rather than her body.

The monkey armature is all 14 gauge wire which can be taped together with foil tape or soldered. I got lazy and taped them. The support wire for the monkey runs all the way from the elbow of the witch (inside the forearm tubing), across the wing, and down the spine of the monkey armature.

 The armature looks like this from the side. I added a few extra tubes on the witch arm and spine to be sure the weight of the monkey would not break her arm. The base support rod will be shortened when the dress is made.
A shot from the back to show the motion of the monkey.

 Once the supports are in place, the body is padded with foil.
 And wrapped with tape to keep the clay clean.
This will give you a feel for how the piece will look in the end.
Hope this is helpful, have a great day!