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: