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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  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!

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

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


Leave a comment, or send an email.