Thursday, September 25, 2014

Making the Haunted Mansion Organist - A tribute, the Zombienose way...

Hello Ghouls and Goys!

If you've been following my work online, you may recognize this art piece I did from a few years ago. If you've just wandered by and discovered my work, then I hope you will enjoy this. Either way, I'm going to post it for somebody's entertainment.

A few years ago I was invited to participate in an art exhibition themed "A Tribute to the Haunted Mansion". It was an annual event for a few years at HalloweenTown and I created an entire series of original art pieces based on the Haunted Mansion attraction. Here's the story of the Organist...

Using reference from the internet, I first patterned out the organ pieces and cut them out of balsa wood. It is an easy wood to cut and shape so it was ideal for the job. I already cast the head in resin and built the figure's body so I sat him up to get an idea of what he'd look like playing the organ. Since my figures are roughly 1:6 scale, this backdrop was about 24 inches high.

I forgot to mention I sculpted and molded the stool leg and cast it in resin 4 times to make all the legs for the stool.

You can see I printed a temporary keyboard in order to position his fingers. I had originally planned to have the keyboard mechanized, toggling the hands up and down as music played from a cd player hidden in the organ itself. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and just got the figure put together. 

When I got it all together and was pleased with it, I spray painted it this gawdy rust color so I could see it as a whole. In addition, I began cutting out the individual organ piano keys because I was still hoping to automate them in sync with some music. You can see a note I made to myself so I knew how many more keys to make! Also, I added the music holder to the organ and printed out some miniature sheet music with an original Zombienose title.

You may have also noticed that I began to cut the tiny wood accents that form the backdrop wall. Yes, it was very time consuming and very messy when under a deadline. I still have to get to those pipes! 

So sickened by the color was I, that I immediately found darker brown to ease my visual intake. I then set it all up to check the overall progress:

With the background details all attached I also added details to the organ. The stool is masked off so the paint wouldn't be sprayed onto the little cushion I made.

What would a pipe organ be without pipes?!? It was time to mount the pipes into the organ. In order to set them evenly, I laid it on its' back and bridged the brass pipes (cut with an angle) between the organ's top and a piece of wood square stock. 

I had I cut the sheet music holder (big bat) and the pipe decoration from more balsa wood and fit them into place, adding the other details.

As that set, I began to get the background and base together. I just steel L-brackets to attach them and would later mount the bottom and back of the organ itself to both parts. I painted the wall that gawdy orangish brown and put tiles down. And yes, I cut each of those floor tiles individually. 

For the character itself, I began the figure by sculpting his head, then molding it and finally casting it as a resin copy (plastic). I sculpted his hands in Super Sculpey and put him together so I could size everything according to his size. The fingers were posed to play the proper notes of his latest ghost-calling opus. I left the head and hands detachable at this time, until I was ready to paint them. I made his hat and pants out of felt. The rest were doll clothes except for the ascot, which was cut from a portion of my favorite shirt.

Then I based him out with some acrylic paint and checked the results:

Happy with the color, I went ahead and began the process...

After a little refining I attached some white hair and declared our fearless musician ready to tickle the ivories!

So back to the organ I went... painting and adding more details (like candles - they're real and can be lit!) I attached the organ to the base and put it together to see what it would look like. It appeared to be shaping up quite nicely.

Let's get this thing together already! I painted the music stand and pipe decoration and this piece was close to being done. By the way, most of this work was being completed the night before the artwork was due for an exhibition. I worked through the night.

Now I had all of the pieces and just had to permanently secure them. 

I was also making the singing statues from the Haunted Mansion for the same art exhibition (at HalloweenTown). You can see the wiring for the lighting elements leading into the statues so they glow at the flick of a switch! 

Next, I attached each individual organ key (major and minor), individually cut and individually positioned to form the proper individual chords. I also began adding spider webs. They're very faint in this picture but I enhanced them later. The webs were made by dabbing Fabri-tac from one point to another. It is a clear fabric glue that is very gooey and stringy. It dries like a flexible plastic. I also set up the sheet music.

Then I permanently mounted the organ player onto his cushion and used a light coat of spray 77 glue to lightly dust the entire piece. This made the spider webs more visible and gave the piece the look of a dusty relic, just like the real thing. The flash on the camera really helps show them off!

I left his head loose so it can be turned side to side depending on how he's arranged to display. My hopes to have the keyboard actually toggle up and down as the Haunted Mansion soundtrack played were thwarted by my deadlines (I had hoped to hide a CD walkman in the back of the organ and had even drawn up plans on how the mechanism would work to toggle the keys up and down), but I think he came together fine as a stand-alone artwork without any more gimmicks. 

I titled this piece, "Liberoachie". It was one of my favorite pieces. It's dimensions are 24" x 24" x 15".

So there you have it. Even reliving this process again has made me tired. I hope you enjoyed reading and THANKS for checking it out! I will have more to come in the future as time allows.



If you're in the Halloween mood, please check out the excellent work of these two awesome artists! I had the pleasure of showing my work alongside them recently:

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Second Skin - Rubber Mask Making

Greetings Earthlings. It's a very busy time for me so I apologize for the blogging postponement. I have been shipping out some art and have 2 shows lined up for October and one in September - more info about that toward the bottom. Anyway, I begin this new edition with my process for making a latex mask of one of my characters.

The first things you'll need is a form to sculpt on. Fortunately I have a headcast that I can use for this process.

First, I drilled a hole in the lifecast nose and inserted a piece of brass stock to support the clay nose. Then I cut some WED clay into slabs and slapped it on the head cast. I used a small mallet to pound the edges even and begin the basic form.

I placed some scrap round stock (the black bars) where my eyes are on my lifecast so I could design the sculpture around eye holes for me to see out of. I used a rake tool to chop the clay down and even out the form. 

Next, while still in a rough form, I began to add some details to the ears, eyes and mouth. 

At this point I was still unhappy with the head shape - you must sacrifice a lot in order to make this mask wearable by a human being. I wish I could stretch my neck so it matches my artwork better. 

Now I begin to smooth out the surface and refine the details, not that my design is highly detailed. The magic will be in the paint job. 

Ok, smoothed him. Added a mole or two as well.

Now to build the dividing wall in order to mold the mask in two halves. I used White Clay to make the dividing wall, remembering to add keys so each half of the mold will always fit together correctly and in the same position (the keys are place atop and next to each ear on the dividing wall).

Now comes the fun part. I laid the bust down on a piece of foam (in a plastic bag) and dribbled an intial splash coat of  Hydrocal plaster onto the sculpture. This is to ensure the mold captures all of the detail of the sculpture. (yeah, right. What detail?) 

I built up the stone up to an inch thickness and let it solidify and set. I had my first half of the mold!! Then I removed the clay dividing wall so I could do the same thing to the other side. Below is a view of the back side of the head that has yet to be molded. I painted on a layer of petroleum jelly onto the plaster wall and proceeded to splash more Hydrocal onto the back side. (I could'nt lay the mold down on it's face because the nose is so huge!)

Next I pried apart the two halves and you can see all of the WED clay stuck in the mold. Yay, I get to spend a good 30 minutes digging out that long clay nose!

Luckily, a lot of it came out in one big chunk. Unluckily, the muzzle of the face and the long, long nose didn't. I used a wood tool to scrap out the rest (a wood tool so it wouldn't scratch the surface of the mold) and then blasted it with a water hose to dissolve the water soluble WED clay to drain out of the deeper areas.

After it was finally cleaned out I cast it in slip rubber latex. I did not fill the mold with latex and let it set, which is the common practice. Instead, and to make it easy, I just slushed a layer of latex, poured out the excess and let it drain. I let it set an hour, then repeated the process slushing a second layer of latex. When the excess drained I then let it set over night. The next evening I pried apart the two mold halves once again to reveal the latex mask.

My next step was to trim off the flashing around the seam and the neck openng. Then I cut out some holes so I can breath and see, not to mention hear! Have mercy! A mask is a big rubber bag you slip over my head after all!

Did I mention that I made two different versions of these things?

Next, I completely removed what was left of the seam line, which is where the latex leaked between the two halves of the mold when it was closed. I did this with a rotary tool and a fuzzy drum bit, lightly grinding the excess latex flashing away and being careful not to sand too deeply into the surface. From that point I mixed some rubber cement with oil paint and went ahead and painted the masks with a predetermined base color. This base coat seals the mask and when that's fully dry I then airbrush some of the color using acrylic inks.

(if you ever paint with rubber cement, NEVER do this indoors! I made the base coat by thinning rubber cement with it's appropriate solvent and then mixing in some oil paint for color and thinning that. One important thing, apply the base coat with a brush.)

I added some more rubber cement paint tinted red to the nose, eyelids and lips to ensure you will never see the latex color if those points become worn.

Finally, I got to the actual painting phase. I added some refinement by airbrushing some acrylic inks. I may add a bit more. It's funny how toy-like these masks look. 

Almost done! For the final step I used sil-poxy (a clear & flexible silicone adhesive) to gloss the eyes and give them a more 'life-like' look. It's clear, glossy and flexible. Below you can see the eye holes I cut out where you can see out of the mask.

So thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the birth of these masks. They will be available for sale at Hallowbaloo this month, along with some of my other work. Click the link below for more info!

As October approaches I'll provide more info for my other shows (including my Australian debut!)


Please check out Jordu's work at Schell Sculpture Studios. He also teaches classes if you're interested!