Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Carcosa Project: The Guard

The next finished creature for the Carcosa project, now called "In the Court of the Yellow King", is a guard that will be standing beside the throne of the eponymous monarch. I wanted something that was humanoid, but also slightly animal-like, and inspired by the various monsters in Heironymus Bosch's paintings. That was, at least, the feel and style I was trying to emulate.

What I came up with was a take on the ever-popular creepy plague doctors of bygone ages, where a bird-like mask was supposed to protect the wearer against the ravages of the plagues that visited Europe. I sculpted a torso in Monster Clay medium grade, which also included the actual mask, made up by a beak in leather and goggles with leather straps and buckles.

Here's the tinted latex skin cast in the dental plaster mold made over the sculpture. To make the mask seem even more leathery I added a thick thread along the seam of the "mouth". This thread was crochet yarn soaked in latex and cut into small bits. One end of each bit was dipped in latex and pressed against the beak until it stuck. Latex was then applied to the other end, which was bent down against the lower part of the beak. No real sewing necessary.

I cast most of my puppet parts in open single-piece molds, which means the some parts of these molds can go quite deep in. In the case of the Carcosa guard it was his beak that could cause trouble, as the rest of the skin dried fast, while the tip of the beak was so deep down into the mold that it could take days to dry out. Let me introduce you to one of my best additions to my workshop ever: A boot drying fan. I simply stick one of the nozzles into the mold I'm casting latex into, and turn it on, having it run for about 30 minutes, or so. That usually does the trick, but if the deepest parts of the mold still have wet latex after that, I just give it a second run.

The armature for this puppet is very basic. No moving parts for the head, and no other added bits except what's needed for a normal humanoid figure. Crochet yarn hold together double aluminum wires, and globs of Friendly Plastic joins the various limbs.

The padding of the body was also a fairly quick affair. I added very few actual muscle shapes. The deep green piece covering the back is the softest one, while the lighter green bits are fairly sturdy, as I wanted them to shape the outline of the body (and keep it), and the yellow foam is strips of  polyurethane, perfect for gradually building up shapes.

Covering the body with patches of latex skin, however, took longer than I had anticipated. And I don't know why really. I just sat for several days fiddling with this, and also adding bits of tissue paper and cotton dipped in latex to the body. The finished patched skin was given a light rubbing of PAX paints, while the beak and goggles were painted using brushes and acrylic colors.

I wanted an unconventional gear for the guard, so I decided to give him a big leather girdle to accentuate his saggy body. The girdle shape was sculpted in soft Monster Clay and cast in a single-piece mold.

I also gave the guard a pair of thigh-high leather boots, joined to the girdle to give the whole arrangement a slightly "kinky" look, for the lack of a better expression. The better part of the boot was sculpted in Soft Monster clay, and again a single-piece mold was created for it.

A monster in one of the Bosch painting wears a funnel-shaped tin hat, which looked both kooky and strange, so I decided to make one for my guard. This hat was glued together from bits of thick paper, and the covered with black-tinted latex. Spikes made from latex and cotton was then attached to it, and the hat was finished by dry brushing aluminum paints over it.

I also cast a few extra latex details for the various accessories worn by the character: Belts, straps, buckles and bits of riveted metal. These casts all came from a big mold I made years ago for another project. I had simply sculpted all these things in Chavant clay on a flat surface, and poured Ultracal 30 gypsum cement over it.

Lastly I wanted to give the guard a nasty-looking pole weapon to lean against. The handle is a wooden dowel used to support potted plants. It's been painted with a brown Warhammer paint wash (wonderful stuff, by the way.) The blade is thick paper covered by Epsilon coating epoxy from Smooth On. This material sets up semi-flexible, and is surprisingly sturdy. When the epoxy had set up after about four hours, it was painted with aluminum spray paint, and weathered with some black acrylic airbrush paint.

I'll probably add some more little details here and there before the character gets animated. He won't be called upon to do much in the film, just move about slightly, but I hope he'll be effective nonetheless, and add to the overall atmosphere of the piece.


Ursula Hitler said...

Oh, wow. That's terrific. It'd be right at home in a Bosch painting!

Have you ever thought about doing a gallery show? I can think of a few galleries here in LA that would probably be interested in showing this stuff. Between your sculptures and drawings, I bet you'd have plenty of material for a show.

Richard Svensson said...

My puppets are regarded as trivial nonsense here in Sweden, so I haven't had any exhibitions over here. Maybe I'll be able to do something like a gallery show abroad eventually.