Saturday, February 28, 2009


Life Casting
I was recently commissioned to make two masks for a low budget film. They are to be mirror images on one another, one smaller and broken, and the other custom fit for the actors head. The life casting of the actor’s head is complete and the casting of the mask underway. The masks will be paper mache, like venetian masks. I’m thinking they’ll have a mixed organic and mechanical feel to them, having an organic texture and coloring but more mechanical form. I’m playing off of ideas like “bandages” and “prison masks.” They will have a somewhat creepy feel to them, as they should, but the warm earthy tones will give hint to what lies beneath.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Left: first trial, acrylics, Right: last trial, pinata paints
Top: front lit, Bottom: back lit

Half of each feather is made of sintra (PVC foam) while the other half I’ve wanted to make out of painted acetate (clear film) I’ve been having a terrible time getting the look I want because the piece will be back lit. I had been trying to achieve a faux stained glass appearance using inks and acrylics with a lot of gloss medium. The inks didn’t adhere as well as I had hoped and the acrylics look dull and streaky. Thanks to my mom though, I finally found something that works. Jacquard’s piƱata paints are perfect for creating a stained glass effect on plastics. They dry quickly and are both transparent and vivid, the combination I was having so much trouble achieving. With this discovery made I am now on my way with creating the feathers. I also decided on the addition of some rough gold leafing which gives the pieces a new reflective quality. This helps tie together the reflective surface of the acetate and dull opaque sintra. The addition of slots in the sintra also helped to unify the two parts. The only other element that I used in the first trial that I would like to keep is the gloss medium on the acetate which creates a more textured glossy surface rather than the hard flat shine of the acetate.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wooden Stalks

Wooden Dowel Stalks

I’ve completed one set of the feather stalks now. These form a sort of skeletal frame at the ends of which will be the sintra and acetate feathers. A portion of this frame will be exposed. The stalks are simply tapered wooden dowels painted red. It’s amazing how long it took (3 hours) to complete such a simple part of the assembly process.

Meanwhile, the second shipment of sintra has arrived and I’ve begun to cut out the remainder of the feathers. As for the acetate, well I haven’t yet figured that out completely. I’m not satisfied with the effects created by acrylics or inks. The inks are too transparent and the acrylics too streaky. However, my mom discovered Jacquard’s Pinata Paints which I believe will give me the effect I’m looking for. These paints adhere well to plastic and are great for creating a faux stained glass effect, which is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Steam Pipe

Steam Pipe

Annika and I have successfully built a steam pipe in which we can steam wood that is to be bent. It’s a simple set up consisting of an insulated PVC pipe, vinyl tubing and a hot pot. That’s all. It get’s considerably hotter than I had anticipated which is marvelous; we’ll be able to bend the wood faster.

Clamped Steamed Wood

I’ve just begun assembling the bent sections of the wing frame. I may need to steam each piece a couple times and over extend the degree of arching in order to compensate for any relaxing the wood will want to do once unclamped. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping the L brackets will help hold it all in shape.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Sintra with Acrylic

The order of Sintra (PVC foam) came in the other day and I’ve begun experimenting with it. The plan is to construct the feathers in two layers: one opaque layer of sintra and one translucent layer of acetate. Both will be painted with acrylics. Right now the acetate is still on its way, so I’ve been experimenting with getting a somewhat “feathery” look to the foam. I think I need to use a heavy-body medium for the base coat to get some more brush texture in there since scratching the surface is not creating quite as much texture as I would like. However, considering that the feathers will be back lit, I don’t think I’ll need to worry too much about the details on the sintra. The acetate is what will make the piece really shine.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Frame Work

Wooden Frame

The senior thesis piece is now underway. I’ve begun by constructing a wooden frame, laying out the pieces on plywood board. The design is sketched out and “L” brackets have been placed and fastened so that I can easily bend and clamp the wood into place. I’ve decided that steaming the wood will be the easiest way to bend it and have it hold its shape. Some time this week I hope to build a steam box that I can have set up in my studio. This will probably be made out of a piece of PVC pipe since the pieces of wood are 2” x ½” x 6’.