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Bison at Antelope Island, Utah State Park 2017

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Art Work In Process Post 1

For the next few weeks I will be documenting how I am building the six animal sculptures that were ordered on Sunday.  The teacher in me wants to show you every little step, so if it gets boring, come back in July.

I have decided to show you how I jump back and forth between six sculptures, doing various steps on each.  This may be confusing, but the only way I could show you one animal from start to finish is to wait a few weeks as I took pictures of it's progress and then put it all together in one place.

Monday was day one.
I didn't take any pictures.

 The first thing I did was to check my materials, making sure I had what I need for each.  I will have to go for more glue sticks tomorrow.

 I also printed pictures of each animal and put them up on my studio wall.  I like to remind myself of what the customer saw on my web site.

Next I collected the master base sculptures from the garage.  For each animal I do I have a master sculpture that I made sometime in the past.  It is covered with water resistant packing tape and I create a paper mache shell over it.

 I  had an unfinished moose and large zebra, so I don't have to do them.

The red one in the front of this picture is not part of this collection, but I put it into the picture so you could see what the master looks like.  The different colors are places where I re-taped after many uses.

I use both newspaper and the white wrapping paper that movers use to wrap things in.  I do three or four double layers of paper mache, leaving split lines to make removal easier.  For these I did the newspaper layers and the first wrapping paper layer yesterday, and the third layer today.

Here they are drying out in the sunshine.
It was 80* today, great for drying.  In winter I have to get creative with building drying tents using a space heater and a silver survival blanket, or put them next to the wood stove for a couple of days.

The large zebra already had his eyes installed, but I was not happy with the placement.  I thought they were too  low.  I went back and looked at some zebra pictures and verified my feeling.

So I cut them out and re-did them.

I will go thru the process of installing the eyes when I do the eyes on the other animals.

 I have so much to show you today and the pictures I took of putting in the eyes were too badly focused.

After I fixed his eyes he went out to dry with the others.

Next I started working on the moose antlers.  I did the first few steps on Monday.
 I started with two pieces of poster board which I  cut to shape.
 Next I tape six pieces of 12 gage wire to the poster board.
The ends of the wires are  put that into a PVC pipe base construction. (Since this was  done Monday, I can't show you how I did it, but I will when I'm making the deer antlers.)

I have also built PVC joints into the top of his head so the antlers are removable.

I will show you this with the deer also.

The hard part here is to shape them from a flat pieces of poster board to a pair of somewhat balanced antlers.

 I comfort myself by knowing antlers in nature are never exactly symmetrical, but I don't want them too  lop sided either.


Once I got them as good as I could, I removed them and painted the back sides with epoxy resin.

The resin takes a couple of hours to set up, so I went on to giving the moose his eyes and then put him out to dry. (Moose has eyes in the second picture!)

After a short lunch break, I brought the zebra back in.  The master base for the zebra has been changed several times and the pattern pieces I have just don't work well anymore, so I decided it was time to develop a new zebra pattern.

To do this I started by drawing a line down the center of the front of the sculpture.
I wrapped the neck part of the zebra sculpture with waxed paper, pinning it in place and taping extra length where a single sheet would not cover.

Working from the center line I drew stripes on one half.


I taped two pieces of poster board together and taped the waxed paper pattern to them with the center line on the joint.

Then using an exacto knife I cut thru both layers of poster board on the lines.


When opened, I marked them with black or white, numbered them and drew an arrow to indicate the direction of the fur nap.





I use a black sharpie on the back side of the white fur, and a silver sharpie on black fur.


All fur I use is man made and is actually fabric.

I cut out the stripes with an exacto knife.
I buy blades in packages of 100, and change them often.
Finally I arranged the stripes in order, ready to glue onto the zebra tomorrow!


It was a busy but very productive day.

The evening commute was terrible.  All the way up a flight of stairs!

Check back tomorrow and see what comes next.

12 comments:

  1. Wow, what a laborious process! I enjoy reading about how this all works.

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  2. That is quite the process! :) I am looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

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  3. Oh my. I don't know how you keep all that straight in your head. :)

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  4. This is incredible. I am so glad you decided to share this with us. How did you get started making these heads?

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  5. complicated taxidermy without dead animals! seriously cool, Merikay! OK Judy, love the pun, too.

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  6. I'm impressed. Will enjoy watching how the work progresses.

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  7. This is great. Will be fun to follow along as you create these. :)

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  8. You sure must have oodles & oodles of patience & knowledge to pull all that together in such a great finished product.

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  9. Anything hand made is SO much work and time consuming! My hubby would like to make furniture but by the time all said and done he would make about $3.00 an hour...hope you get LOTS and LOTS for your mounts...they are so cute!

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  10. Thanks for sharing your process. It's so interesting to see you do this. I'm still in awe of the final product.

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  11. I had no idea how complicated it was. I look forward to watching the progress!

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