Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween everybody!

I hope you've been enjoying this year's contdown as much as I have.  I'd like to celebrate October 31st with my take on the Jack o'lantern: the shrunken head lantern.  Enjoy!


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mummified demon specimen

This one is a very traditional European type of demon, generally humanoid in shape with a pair of bat-like wings.
My fascination with mummified demons comes from Japanese examples, and it's a theme I keep coming back to.  Japan's vibrant history of mummified monsters is one I think Western culture could learn from - can you imagine how awesome it would be if your local church had a demon mummy? 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Experimenting with eyes

We're only a couple of days away from Halloween now, so let's look at a cool little thing you can do fairly quickly for use with your Halloween decorations.

I'm talking about eyes here.  I like eyes a lot and like to just sort of sprinkle them everywhere in places they don't normally belong.  Happily, it's easy to make very effective eyes and they don't take very long to make.  Today, I'm going to talk about how I do that.

A while ago, I made lizard eyes.  I’m pleased with my lizard eyes, but I also wanted to try making something that’s a bit more like the glass eyes taxidermists use.
So, here is eye prototype number two.  I made them with a glass pebble over top of a painted iris and pupil.  I placed those on a bottle top and wrapped a small quantity of translucent Sculpey round them to hold everything in place and form a sclera (the white part of the eye).
Sculpey is baked at a low temperature, so the glass lens, bottle top and painted paper iris can all be baked together without any problems.  I haven’t needed to use any glue here, because the Sculpey keeps everything together.
The results are pretty good and I'd be more than happy to have a few of these peeking out from around my garden plants.  However, I think they could be even better, so I decided to make another pair with acrylic cabochons.
These cabochons are used in jewellery making.  They’re designed to have a small image placed underneath them, and this makes them perfect for sculpture eyes.  They’re much clearer than the glass pebbles I used for my previous prototype, so they distort the painted eye far less than the pebble does.  That means I have to be more detailed when I paint the iris, but it also means the eye looks better.  I could also use a printed picture of an eye, which would be an easier and quicker option if I had a suitable image to use.  I also discovered that for best results it's a good idea to paint the pupil of the eye directly onto the cabochon.

The really important thing to remember here is that you can't use any kind of polymer clay with acrylic cabochons.  They won't survive the baking process.  Instead, I've used clear glue and air dry clay (DAS is pretty good).

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Halloween how to: severed ear prop

Now that the ear prop is nice and dry, it’s time to paint it.  Here it is, all finished:
These ears look great nailed to your door or front gate
First up, I’ve given it an all over wash of very thin yellow ochre paint. 
Next, I’ve added raw umber and burnt sienna to give it a nice dark mummified appearance.
Finally, I’ve simulated some dried gore where the ear would have attached to the head using clots of ultramarine and burnt sienna.  Obviously, you can also use a natural skin colour and fresh gore; it's just a matter of personal taste.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Halloween how to: severed ear

Today's tutorial is all about making a severed ear out of paper mache.  I know ears are kind of a complex shape, but don't let that put you off.  This is a Halloween prop: we're not looking to recreate Michelangelo's David here, we want something that looks like it's been hacked off with a weed whacker.  The trick is to look at where the ridges are in a human ear, follow the line of those ridges with some twisted paper, and paper mache over top.  As always, Google image search is your friend.

I find with ears it's good to start off with the cartilage.  In this picture, you can see how I've glued a sausage of paper mache on a piece of tissue in the shape of the cartilage.  I've made the sausage my smearing glue onto a piece of tissue and twisting it up.  I've used straight PVA glue here, because anything more watery will cause the tissue to disintegrate.  It is important to use tissue and not, say, newsprint, because tissue is soft and makes a nice skin-like texture.

As you can see, the shape is simple, but it already looks like an ear.  In the next two photos, you can see how I've paper mached over the "cartilage" to put skin on the ear and help form it into an ear shape.

By now, it's probably going to be quite soggy and fragile, so I'd recommend you put it aside to dry for a while before you finish working on it.

Next up, you want to use the tip of a pen to gently poke a hole in the tissue where the earhole should go.  The hole needs to go in behind the "cartilage" lump you made at the beginning, as shown in the picture.

As you can see, it's already starting to really look like an ear.  The next thing is to turn it over, so you can add a curved ridge of gluey paper around the back of the earhole like this:

After that, all you need to do is tidy up the edges and make an earlobe out of a lump of glued tissue:

Next time, I'll talk about how you can paint the ear to make it look both realistic and incredibly disturbing.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Halloween earrings: finished

In my previous post I talked about making Halloween earrings.  In this instance, dragon shaped ones.  I've now got the project finished and painted, and here are the finished photos.
This is the finished dragon.  I've gone for an appropriately seasonal red and gold colour scheme, with a base coat of bright green to give it contrast.  I've also used my favourite irridescent metalic effect.
Here's me wearing it.  I've used plenty of flash so the colour contrast and the metallic shimmer will show up nicely.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Halloween earrings

I'm an equal opportunities surrealist.  I make all kinds of weird stuff.  In this case, I'm inspired by those kitschy Christmas earrings with bells and reindeer and such.  And I thought, why not apply that concept to Halloween?  Because I had fun making a dragon's head for my last project, I decided to go with the dragon theme again here.

Here's the earring, just before painting.

Here's the head as it was when I first started it.  Not very impressive so far; just a mouth with some teeth and nothing more, but it'll get better.

A couple of hours later, that proto-head has turned into this:

Add a tail and some hind legs...

And the dragon is finished.  All it needs now is a coat of paint.

Friday, 12 October 2012

A book bound in dragon skin

I've now finished my book bound in dragon skin.  Here it is.

Front cover with dragon's head

The next photos were taken with the flash on, so you can see that the cover is iridescent.  The dragons scales have been painted red, with a bronze fleck.

Front cover, back cover, and spine

Inside cover and title page

Close up of the back cover
Originally I made the whole cover in one piece with a hinged spine, but after I'd sculpted it the hinge no longer worked, due to the fact that paper pulp dries like cement.  The solution was to separate the covers from the spine and attach the spine separately after I sewed on the covers.

My apologies for the inconvenience

Here at Seditiosus I've been experiencing a slight technical problem (pictured).

I want to thank you, my excellent readers, for your patience.  Normal transmissions will be resumed as soon as possible.

On the plus side, I appear to have my Halloween costume sussed.  I'm walking with this zombie lurch that is just so incredibly realistic.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Halloween how-to: framing Jenny

This post is part two of my Halloween how-to about making a framed Jenny Haniver specimen.  Today, I take a look at how to put a paper mache specimen into a picture frame, so you can hang it on your wall.

Here it is, all finished

Close up of the specimen

You can get picture frames with a deep recess in the back which are intended for framing three dimensional objects, but you don't need one of these.  Any picture frame you have lying around your house will get the job done - you just need a shallow cardboard tray to fit in the back.

I then simply covered the tray with some black velvet and secured Jenny to the base of the tray with a little glue.

At this point, you'll no doubt realize that the final step of this project requires jamming the fabric covered tray into the back of the picture frame.  Picture frames have metal flaps or staples, which are intended to hold the photo in the back, but which can also be used to keep the tray in place as shown here.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Halloween how-to: a framed Jenny Haniver

Image courtesy of The Pink Tentacle.

These are Jenny Hanivers.  They're made by drying and altering the carcass of a skate or stingray so that it looks like a demon or dragon.  For more details, see here.  The next couple of posts will be a tutorial on making one of these out of paper mache, in a nice frame.  Just the thing for your Halloween decor, and a fun way to spend a quiet evening.  

There are detailed step by step instructions after the jump.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

It's dried head time!

Last time I blogged, I talked about making a book cover based on antique handbags with alligator heads on them.  So without further ado, let's get stuck into that all-important dried head.  Here it is, all finished and waiting to be painted.

I started with a vaguely head-shaped lump of paper pulp.  Because the details get built up in layers, it wasn't especially important to have the shape absolutely right in the beginning.

Vaguely snout-shaped pulp with proto-nostrils

From there, I built up nostrils, eyes, scales and spines.


Eyes and scales

Some little eyebrow spines

This'll take quite a while to dry - possibly a couple of days - so in the meantime I'll do something different in my next post.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Making a sculptural book cover

I'm on a bit of a bookbinding buzz currently.  My current project is making a book cover based on alligator skin for my copy of Linnaeus' Systema Naturae.  I've developed a fascination with those alligator handbags that used to be fashionable decades ago before we had environmentalism and PETA and so on - you know the ones I mean, with the little alligator heads and feet stuck onto them.  Why did the fashion industry suddenly decide the latest must-have accessory was a dried alligator head?  I have no idea, and I find that question fascinating in itself.

Happily, reproducing the interesting texture of alligator skin does not require skinning an alligator.  First up, I need a basic book cover made from cardboard. A beer box is ideal for making sculptural book covers, and here's one I emptied earlier. You can see the cover has a front, a back, and a cardboard strip for the spine, and this is really all it needs.  From here, it's just a matter of decorating it.

The two covers and the spine are stuck together with a cloth hinge.  Once it's been made a little sturdier with the assistance of some paper and glue, I'm able to get down to the exciting business of creating texture.  Alligator skin is not really scaly; it's more sort of pebbly, so I'm using paper pulp "pebbles".  It's kind of like making a mosaic.

Progress shot of the cover getting its pebbly texture

The finished book cover

Next time, I'll show you how I make the dried head.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Welcome to the Seditiosus Halloween countdown!

It's great to have you here.  This year, I'm part of the Countdown to Halloween project.  Be sure to check that link for lots of awesome Halloween themed blogging, or click on the badge in the sidebar.

I'm thinking that along with my usual celebration of the macabre and disturbing I'll post some Halloween-appropriate how-to's that you can try yourself if you feel inclined to, but I don't have a planned blogging schedule as such.  If there's any particular thing you want me to blog about, have at it in the comments section.  

In my next post, I'll be talking about making a book cover based on reptile skin. In the meantime, if you're new to my blog, why not have a browse in my archives where you'll find such Halloween-y gems as the zombie hand beer cooler

Zombie hand beer cooler
the skull chalice,

Speaks for itself, really

and the creepy carnivorous plant on legs.  Enjoy!

Look at that - my yucca plant has found a friend.