Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Wife Thinks She's Annie Leibovitz

I'm beginning to think there is more to this Mars vs Venus concept then I first thought. At least when it comes to taking pictures at our house.

I'm a point and shoot kind of guy. While my wife Diane tends to spend a great deal of time over each of her pictures.

For this reason I tend to score a lower irritant factor when brandishing a camera at social events then she does. My intended subjects know I'm going to snap a quick shot and keep moving.

Diane on the other hand likes to take multiple shots. She'll have people change places. "You over here". "You stand next to so and so". That sort of thing.

I have no problem with her approach to photography -- unless I'm the subject! For example this past weekend I asked her to take a picture for my blog of me standing next to the miniature cave I'm making. I wanted to show the size of it. It was a very hot day - 94 degrees in the shade.

She fiddled around taking shot after shot while I'm literally starting to do a slow burn in the sun. Then she chides me for not smiling!

Better yet was the time last summer when we were walking the beach taking pictures during an extremely rough sea with huge waves for this area. We were experiencing wave heights of 10 to 15 feet! To give you and idea of how large the surge was take a look at this photo of one of the life guard chairs.

These chairs are set out well above the usual high tide mark. They are also surrounded my a mound of sand right up to just under the chair seat. The water had washed away the mound and was beginning to drag the chair out to sea!

In this shot you can see one of the local surfers with a large wave breaking above him.

Diane decides if I went out a bit into the water it would give viewers of the pictures an idea of the size of the waves.

I look at her like shes crazy but she keeps at me. Okay I venture out a few steps and turn towards the camera. Oh no she says I need you a little further out!

I take a few more paces out and I'm starting to really feel the strength of the current pulling at me. She wants me out further! I'm starting to feel like the Chief in Jaws when Hopper is taking photos and wants him at the end of the boats pulpit to give the shark some scale. A breaking comber nails me and I'm soaked and not a happy camper. As Diane is lining up her perfect shot a large wave and comber are lining me up!

Just out of camera view to my left is a rock jetty where all the water rushing back out to sea had created a nasty rip current. I got out of there in a hurry!

So if I ever post a picture of me on my blog and I'm not grinning from ear to ear you know who the photographer was!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cavern Work In Progress

Now that I had created my cavern ceiling using resin and chopped fiberglas cloth it was time to begin covering it in Apoxie Sculpt clay.

After mixing up a batch of parts A & B of the clay I apply a thin veneer of it to the cavern ceiling working it down onto the walls of the cave.

I can't work too large of an area at a time because I have to impart a rocky texture to the clay before it begins to set up.

This photo is of the entrance to the cavern. It is made of hardware cloth and styrofoam board.

After adding a layer of mache I covered it in Apoxie Sculpt clay. I find the mache closes the pores of the styrofoam board otherwise I keep getting loose particles of styrofoam as I apply the Apoxie.

An added benefit is it bulks up the piece without the added weight ( and expense ) of a thick layer of Apoxie clay.

This photo shows the finished cave entrance painted with acrylics and placed in its position on the plywood base. I now begin building up the rest of the cliff face which will eventually be joined to the entrance.

Here is one of the supports for the interior of the cave. It shows the wood frame, styrofoam board and veneer of Apoxie Sculpt.

This is a close up photo of the rock texture of one of the supports.

I hope to get a great deal of work done today before the heat and humidity return later in the week!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Working with Resin

It has been so hot and humid here I haven't felt like posting much lately. It figures the PC would be in the hottest room in the house!

I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome the new followers of my blog and to thank the folks that have expressed an interest in the skull giveaway. The giveaway will close the end of July so if anyone wants in there is still time.

Recently I have been working on making the cavern I blogged about awhile back. The interior will have a curved ceiling. I needed to construct the ceiling light yet strong. I chose to build the foundation of the ceiling with resin.

I decided to move my entire operation outdoors into the garage for two reasons. First off the resin fumes are murder and I've yet to find a respirator mask that 100% blocks the odor. Secondly I figured it would be easier to load the finished piece in my clients truck straight from the garage.

The resin I am using is from WASCO -- Wildlife Artist Supply Company . It is a good product and the staff at Wasco are friendly and helpful should you need help with using any of their products.

The interior of the cave is roughed out in rigid styrofoam board. When it is completed it fits into a wooden framework that supports it. For the ceiling I stapled the middle of a piece of hardware cloth 1/4" screen to a panel of wood. Wood was also added to the end sections of the screen.

I curved the ends of the screen into the shape I wanted and secured the ends to my styrofoam boards. Next I hot glued sections of styrofoam to the screen. When I was done I roughed up the styrofoam with a coarse file so it looked irregular.

Resin time! I make it a habit of recording the dates I use the resin on a sheet of paper affixed to the can.

Older resin may not set up as readily as new material does. For this reason I always mix two test batches of the resin I plan to use.

One batch is allowed to cure in the paper cup. The other is applied to scrap pieces of the materials I will be using. This way if there is a negative reaction I can more readily figure out where the problem arose from.

In the photo you can see that the two small pieces of craft styrofoam are unaffected by the resin. While the piece of styrofoam insulation board is completely eaten away by the resin!

Once I knew I was good to go I began mixing up small batches of the resin with chopped fiberglas resin strands added to it. Not only does this thicken the resin it makes it incredibly strong.

I wrapped and taped a heavy duty black plastic garbage to the underside of my project to capture any resin drips.

In this photo most of the ceiling has been covered with the chopped fiberglas/resin concoction.

Once the resin is fully cured I can begin adding the rock look to the cavern ceiling. When I'm further along in the construction I'll post some pictures.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Ghoulish Giveaway and a July Sale

To celebrate the Etsys Dark Side Team Facebook page reaching 1000 fans I'm having a ghoulish giveaway here on my blog and a sale to run the remainder of July at my Etsy shop. I'm giving away this hand sculpted skull to one of the folks that follow my blog.
It is sculpted of fire clay with a candle created of Apoxie sculpt clay atop its noggin. It measures 3 1/2" H X 1 1/2" W and is mounted on a base which I've initialed.

To take part in the giveaway you need to be, or become a follower of this blog. To enter please leave a comment to this post about where you plan on displaying the skull should you be the lucky winner. The drawing will take place the first week in August. Also for the remainder of July I'm offering 25% off all sculptures in my Etsy shop priced over $300.00. With free shipping on any sculpture over $500.00