Monday, September 4, 2017

H P Lovecraft's "Memory": The Demon

I continue my Lovecraftian adaptations with a prose poem called "Memory". I found this text a long time ago in an anthology, and really liked it. It's very vague on what it's really about, but it has a dreamlike quality, and some underlying themes which will make the reader figure out some things on his/her own.
I just finished editing the film, and will shortly post it on YouTube. Here's some info on one of the puppets featured in the film.

The title "Memory" actually refers to one of the characters in the tale; a demon who apparently goes by that name. There are no descriptions of the creature, so I went with my own ideas, deciding to create something that looked old and withered, but also regal.

I only sculpted the torso of this puppet, using Monster Clay medium grade and my teeny tiny loop tools.

Dental plaster poured over the sculpture created a mold into which I could then add tinted latex. I supported the inside of this latex skin with cotton dipped in latex, creating a sturdy leathery feel.

To create that "regal" look built up a sort of crown between the shoulders using tooth picks.

The toothpicks were then covered with cotton and tinted latex. I decided early on to not have a head or face on this character, mainly because I didn't want to bother with animating a face. But it also meant that I could make a creature that looked a bit more abstract than most other characters.

The puppet has my usual aluminum wire and thermoplastic armature, with threaded bolts in the feet.

Most of the body was padded with bits of thin polyurethane foam soaked in latex, and cotton dipped in latex. The latex-soaked foam created a material that is almost clay-like. When it has dried you can press it together with your fingers and shape it pretty well.

The demon has a pair of very traditional devil wings, almost as if ripped from a church wall painting. I won't go into the making of the wings, as I've talked about this many times. But I'll refer you to my YouTube video, which says everything you need to know on the subject.

I normally sculpt my skin textures or get them from a surface like old leather or a fruit. But I sometimes create an texture by first starting it as a negative sculpture, if you will. This is much faster than creating a normal sculpture. In other words, I carve or etch a negative pattern into clay, in this case medium grade Monster Clay. 

When that's done I build up a clay containment wall, just like when casting an ordinary sculpture. I add plaster, first by brushing it in to avoid air bubbles, and then pouring in the rest. The plaster has cured, and here you can see what the actual skin texture will look like. 

But you can't cast anything into this plaster casting, so I'll have to make another mold on top of the plaster cast. I choose to do this by mixing dental silicone and curing agent, and squeezing down this silicone paste over the plaster cast. But, if you use a sealing or release agent, you can cast plaster over plaster.
Just be aware that any slightly unprotected sections might stick, and then you're goose is cooked, so to speak. You might break off a portion of your mold, and you'll have to start over again. Which is not a big deal, really. This dental silicone paste sets up in a few minutes, and I can peel off the mold pretty easily. So, to cast latex into this silicone you can wash the mold with some alcohol, if you feel that silicone oil is making the surface very slippery. Or use a dulling spray, which is what I do. In this case here I've actually done neither. I just sponged in tinted latex and it seemed to stick just fine. After a couple thin layers of latex I'm dabbing the surface with talcum powder to make the latex skin easier to remove. Then I can just peel it off. This particular skin was used on the legs of the demon.

Here's the demon puppet pieced together, skin, wings and all. Now it'll get a light drybrushing of tinted latex, as well as some silvery acrylic paint on the chest area.

And here's the demon as it appears in the film, with a head made up of stock footage fire, fixed up in After Effects to look weird and alien.

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