måndag 27 februari 2012

Behind the scenes, characters number 1 and 7; photo shoot at Medljus

Then it was time for the photo shoot at Medljus with Robert Eldrim.

We had booked saturday for character number 1 and sunday for character number 7.

I had prepared everything very neatly, bought all of the make up, arranged the costumes and prepared every step carefully the day before, so once the model arrived, it was just to get started. I had my assistant who also happens to be my sister, Elin Stenfors, there all weekend since I really need an extra hand with the makeup and putting on the costumes.

Here I am putting on the costume for character number 7, being very tight and in latex it is essential to talc the models skin before putting it on, this will take away the friction and the costume is much easier to get into.

Robert in action with his camera!

Every time that Robert takes a picture with his camera, they end up on the screen of his computer in just a split second after they have been taken, this way it is easy for both me and him to see if something needs to be altered.

It was time for lunch and Rolf had taken off the hood, looking a bit like Ola Salo with only the feathers around the eyes left, we are observing Robert working on the images.

Putting on the last of the makeup around the eyes, ready to be photographed!

Me fixing the feathers in a place I was not pleased with the looks of them

Elin loves being my assistant.

The rest I will show you once it is done!

söndag 26 februari 2012

Step 4, The foetus; making the silicone mould with fiberglass jacket.

Since there is a large undercut in the sculpt, the mould needs to be in silicone, which is flexible, a fiberglass mould would make the core get stuck in the mould and ruin the foetus.

The first layer of moulding silicone is brushed on as a thin layer, covering the whole sculpt and clay wall, this will pick upp all of the detail, and it also helps to avoid air traps. It looks like melted strawberry ice cream, but you should definitely not eat it.

Once the first layer is tacky, but not completely set it is time for the next layer of silicone. To test this you can put your finger on the surface after about 15 min, it should leave a fingerprint on the silicone without still being wet, if it starts to let go of the sculpt, it is to dry and the second layer will be hard to apply.

The second layer has thixotropic mixed into it, which makes it thicken up to a more buttery consistency. Use a paintbrush or a wooden mixing stick to apply the silicone evenly across the first layer.

Leave it to set for at least an hour, it is important for the silicone to be completely set before fiberglassing. Also remember that different silicones has different abilities, and you need to test it first to know how fast it sets etc. Once it is set you can remove the clay wall surrounding it, trimming it down to the same level as the silicone. On top of the silicone I need to make a fiberglass jacket, that will hold the silicone in place.

Cut away a few wedges around the edge for the fiberglass to snap on to.

Then it is time for fiberglassing, remember to wear protective clothing since the fumes can severely harm your breathing organs longterm. You need to wear a respirator that protects you from organic vapors, glasses, an overall or other protective clothing. You will also need a pack of latex gloves, since you are going to need to change a few times during the process.

The first layer is the Gel coat, it picks upp all lof the details and creates the base for the mould. Is is a thick, slightly pink transparent gel that you mix with 2-6 percent catalyst. 2 percent is recommended, if you over catalise it it will crack, but if the room is very cold it can be a good idea to add some extra catalyst into it, since you will have to wait forever to make the second layer else way.

Cover the whole surface with a layer of about 1 cm gel coat with a paint brush, leave it to set and clean out the brush with aceton immediately.

After about 20 minutes, the gel coat should be tacky, feel it with a gloved finger. Once it is tacky you sprinkle loose fiberglass on top of it, this wil the make the gel coat stick to the fiberglass matt.

Wait about another 10-15 minutes, until the gel coat is set. Then you start to apply the fiberglass matts with resin. The resin is mixed with one percent catalyst by weight, and it is very important not to over catalyse since it might get to hot and start to burn. Paint the fiberglass matt onto the gel coat with resin and a pint brush, the resin dissolves the fiberglass matts and they will create one smooth surface. Finish the procedure with adding a thin fiber glass cloth on top, that will make it smooth and less itchy.

Leave the fiberglass to set for about 20 minutes, once it starts to get a bit green to its color, you can trim the edge with a scalpel like cutting cardboard, but don't wait to long since once it is set you will need to trim it with a power saw.

Leave it to set properly for about an hour.

Then you can turn the mould over and remove the clay wall, be careful not to harm the sculpt. You will probably need to do some minor repairs to the back of the sculpt since it will probably be a little bit damaged no matter how careful you are.

Put up a new clay wall around the edge of the silicone, and sculpt in wedges matching the ones you made on the other half.

Then you repeat the whole process on the other half, and wait for the second half to set properly, the whole process took me two days, with a lot of waiting in between, so it is a good idea to be working on something else parallel.

fredag 24 februari 2012

Step 2, character number 2; making the plaster mould.

When the sculpt is ready to be moulded, first thing to do is to put up a clay wall.

It is important to remember that the head cast is firm, so don't put the wall to far back, since it will create an undercut and the mould will stick to the cast. You don't want this to happen!

The wall is put up about 2 cm from the edge of the sculpted mask, this will work as touch down when putting it back together, along with the eyes.

To strengthen the wall, I cover the back of the head with cling film and then putting plaster bandage over it. This makes the clay wall strong enough to hold the plaster when moulding.

Make the wall smooth and put some Vaseline on all of the exposed plaster, to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Then lay the cast down and cover all exposed areas with plastic to avoid it getting to messy.

Mix the first layer of plaster really thin, like a single cream, carefully covering the whole sculpt, this will pick up all of the detail.

Then continue with several thicker layers until it is thick enough, about 5-7 cm all over.

Since the mould will be placed in the bottom, with the cast pressed down into it when making the latex foam, the top of it needs to be flat. To make it flat I file it down with a surform when the plaster is starting to set, but still is quite soft.

Then the mould is done and I leave it to set over night.

torsdag 23 februari 2012

Step 3, the foetus; clay walling tiny sculpts.

Since the sculpt is very tiny, everything suddenly gets more complicated. To put up a clay wall with a neat seam is not the easiest thing. Allow extra time for this step, since you don't want to mess it up.

Starting with placing the foetus on some mattress foam or polystyrene to have a base for the foetus to lie on.

Then make the clay wall as if the the sculpt is pressed down into it, but don't press it down, build it up until it covers half of the sculpt, with fine lines around the joint. To achieve this I used different dental tools, fine paintbrushes, make up sponges and water. Water is good since the foetus is sculpted in chavant so the water won't have any effect on it except cleaning the pottery clay away.

When the joint is neat you need some keys for the second half of the mould to hold on to, just make them with something round.

Then I put up another wall around the one I've just made, to create the side of the silicone mould.

Once all of this is done the foetus is ready to be moulded.

Step 1, character number 2; sculpting the mask.

Character number two is between the bird man of character number 1, and a human, which is the next step.

His face is suppose to look as if it transforming from a beak into a human face. I will make the face as a foam latex mask, on top of a Lycra hood.

To sculpt this I use grey pottery clay, my favourite. I start with getting the right proportions based on my designs.

When the proportions are accurate I start to work on the surface, since this is to be as skin like as possible the surface needs to be smooth. To achieve this I use different types of sculpting kidneys. My favourite is the serrated one in combination with the rubber one, if you alter the two the surface will eventually be smooth.

When the surface is smooth and all of the details are in place, I work on the skin texture, using different sponges to simulate pores and skin. An orange can also be handy for this.

Once the texture is done it is time to make a one piece plaster mould of it

onsdag 22 februari 2012

Step 2, the foetus; sculpting the skin.

When the Fimo skeleton is done you can start sculpting the skin.

To do this I use chavant clay, and sculpt a thin layer on top of the Fimo. I have made an armature to hold the foetus while I sculpt, so I can reach it from all directions. The armature is bendable which allows me to move it around as I want.

It is tricky to sculpt this small and takes considerably longer time than what you can imagine.

To make the texture I used the tip of a pin, slowly working over the surface. I want the surface to be rough as if feathers would grow there one day.

When I was pleased with the sculpt it is time to prepare for moulding.

tisdag 21 februari 2012

Fitting with the model, character 1 and 7.

It is important to do a final fitting before the actual photo shoot, to make sure that everything fits perfectly. I arrived in Sweden to meet up with my model Rolf in his house, two days before shooting, to make sure I had enough time to fix any possible faults.

The latex costume fitted very well, there was some minor things that needed to be altered. And I also calculated on the time to get in the costume, to tell the photographer; about 45 minutes in total including make up.

The bird costume is put on very quickly, but half of it is make up, and it will take a long time to get all feathers in place on the body, so I have prepared Robert, the photographer, of this.

Both of the costumes fitted very well and I was pleased with my work, Rolf felt comfortable in them and I only had a few things to fix before the shooting day. Finally I can relax a little.

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Step 1, the foetus; sculpting the core skeleton

The foetus is part of character number 5, the scientist, it is going to float in a glass jar in the scientist hand.

First of all, you need to make an armature for the sculpt, I made it in galvanised wire, which is very firm, combined with a thinner one to bound the different parts together.

On the armature I then sculpt the skeleton that will create the core for the silicone skin.

Starting with white Fimo clay, using reference images collected from photos of bird and human foetuses.

Then I add some details such as intestines and ribs with red and brown fimo, there is no point being to detailed since smaller things won't show through the skin. I also made big eye balls in brown fimo.

I add some pins on several different places to the core, these will be my touch downs when moulding.

Then just put it in the oven for 20 min at 110 degrees. Then it is done for the next step.

måndag 20 februari 2012

step 10, character number 1; patinating

Now when all of the feathers are attached to the costume, it is almost done. But since this is suppose to be a living being, you need to consider the environment he is living in, and what he spends the days doing. This character is suppose to be very clean and tidy, but he is still living outside.

As you can see the feathers are far to fluffy and new and need to be patinated and worked with to look more realistic.

To do this I first wet them down and shape them with a hairdryer. Then I use a spray hair gel, and spray them while I comb them with my hands, and I continue to do this until I am pleased with the look of it, and alter this with the hairdryer. It is just a question of how you want them to look really. When I was done with the body I did the same on the mask.

Then the costume is done, and it is time for fitting on my model Rolf, in Sweden!

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step 9, character number 1; adding the single feathers.

Now when the feather fabric is sewed on to the leotard, I need to cover the front with single feathers. I was looking desperately to find feathers with a natural look and shade to them in different sizes, preferably not to expensive. Just on chance I bought two duck feather pillows from Argos, costed me only £8, and the feathers inside them turned out to be absolutely perfect for my needs, and so many feathers!

I attach the feathers with Copy Dex, when the suit is on my vac-formed plastic mannequin, the Copy Dex wont stick to the mannequin, only to the power net, which is what you wan't to happen. At first I had planned to sew them on one by one but after some testing I realised that it was much better to do it this way, and it looked more genuine.

Trying to attach the feathers evenly without making a pattern, since a pattern will make it less realistic, with the feathers closer to each other on the edge to the feather fabric, and less the close in the middle. I want his skin to show through, since he is a mix between a bird and a man.

It took a big amount of time to get this done, my studio is full of feathers and I am full of feathers, but I am very pleased with the result.

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söndag 19 februari 2012

step 8, character number 1; making the mask.

When the beak is ready it has to be attached to the model somehow, this costume has a whole mask to cover the head, so I apply the beak to the mask.

Starting with making a hood, made from the white power net, in the size of the models head. Make sure it is not to tight or to loose, a perfect fit is what your aiming for, to get in and out from the hood just I have attached a zip in the back.

Then I brush the inside edge of the beak with Copy Dex, make it a thick layer.

Then simply attach the beak to the hood in the right position, pin it in place and let the copy dex dry. Once it is dry I sew the beak to the power net by hand, all around the edge, using a sharp heavy duty leather needle, since the latex i thick.

Once the beak is sewed on to the hood, it is time to attach the feathers to the mask.

Starting with the feather fabric again, being very accurate with the direction of the feathers, since the head is round. I sew it on by hand, in small patches, to get a good look to it.

When the feather fabric is on, it is time for the face. I cut out holes for the eyes, and with Copy Dex I attach down around the edge of the beak and a bit upon the face, this will make it blend with the skin and the makeup around the eyes.

Once it is done, it is time to make the feathers more worn and dirty, which is the next step!
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