Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tiger Shark for Shelley; Part one

I thought I'd join the band of puppet makers / animators that have contributed with sea creature puppets to Shelley Noble's project "Halfland". My idea was to make the puppet in cast silicone for maximun flexibility. It was supposed to be a learning experience for me too, and it was.

I started off with making a sculpture of the creature; a "tiger shark" all in line with the rules for how wildlife in Halfland looks.

A dividing wall in softer clay was put up around the sculpture in order to cast a two piece mold.

A thin first layer brushed on to avoid air bubbles.

Top layer cast and sculpture turned around for second layer.

The whole plaster mold ready to be separated. The thin wooden stick provided a tunnel through the plaster, where I could stick an aluminum wire support rod for the puppet.

So far all's good and well. I mixed some PlatGel 10 silicone with yellow pigments (to provide a painting base) and brushed that into both mold halves. I should also say that the armature was padded with soft foam after this photo was taken.

Before putting the mold halves together some more silicone was added as a glue. The halves were clamped together and in theory the finished casting should come out just dandy.

Which of course it didn't. It turned out I added too little silicone and in some parts there were just big air pockets of loose skin. So the new plan will be to either recast the puppet with a (very expensive) silicone foam I'm dying to try out, or just do it with a latex skin, like I usually do. I'd like to get this puppet finished as soon as possible or it won't be of any good to Shelley's project. There have, however, been a few complications.

Taking up most of my time the last month-and-a-half is a theatre production of a famous Swedish children's book. I have been making 40-something soup terrines, one to be smashed each show, casting them in thin plaster and painting them to match the non-breakable original. Thank god it's all over now, but a rumour of a revival next year is already buzzing. I did get handsomely paid for it, though.

My little studio was also flooded during a week of terrible rains and I've been working with the drying and cleaning of the room since then. So quite a bit of my many projects have been on the backburner due to both planned and unplanned interludes. There's also a little film project that I had planned for this past summer and that I actually, despite all other interventions, managed to get done as far as the raw footage with the actors goes. More about that one in a bit...


Shelley Noble said...

OMG< Richard! I can't believe you are going to all this trouble for Halfland! It's incredible! I love the Tigershark though and want it! I'm glad you are using it for learning as well but...

please consider using the first cast pictured here as THE ONE. It looks perfectly fantastic to me and there are so many fish in the scene that each one will only get the most brief swim-by moment.

I'm hoping you'll paint it up and send it! I'm so appreciative of your time and talents in it already! Thank you!

If that's no fun, there's plenty of time (unfortunately for me) I won't start the undersea set until the main set is done. AND I HAVE NO Björn!!!!!! :(

Richard Svensson said...

Hi, Shelley!
Glad you liked the little fella, but it's no real trouble for me recasting this puppet. I'll re-use the armature. The "big" work is in the sculpting and mold-making, and that's already done. Even if the tiger shark will just do a swim-by I'd like the puppet to be as good as possible (it'll be a lot more fun animating it).
And I'm very glad I'm able to help you out in your wonderful and very ambitious project, so the pleasure's all mine.
Yes; Björn is handy to have around. Would you believe he built a castle out of scrap lumber as big as a regular house this summer, for Angie, Tove and some other kids to play around in? Well, we did a fair bit of playing there ourselves.

people in gorillasuits said...

a great piece of art -a gain ;)

and as mentioned before but I can't mention this one often enough: very well documented ! Thanks for sharing.