Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

I have been in love with Halloween since I was a kid.  I'm not sure why.  I think, though, that it's as simple as this: I liked the color palette better than other holidays. Purple, orange, green and black were fun colors and I liked all the monsters!  I still love the old black and white monster movies to this day.
A number of years ago I had the good fortune to meet a guy named Jeff Carlson who loves all this stuff as much as I do. I think we knew pretty quickly that we were on the same spook page.
Jeff was already on another level when it came to Halloween. He was sculpting his own masks and doing all kinds of cool monster related art.  I picked his brain until it bled and he got me hooked on some of the basics for mask making.  I bought some clay, a head armature, some Ultracal and latex and set about getting my hands dirty.
Sculpture scared me from the start. Not because it was hard, but because I seemed to get lost in it.  I spent hours sculpting and had no idea how much time had passed.
I decided that my first attempt would be something I thought was really cool and not as common as other Halloween masks.  Dracula is well known...but I had decided to try my hand at doing a re-sculpt of a really great Nosferatu mask that I found pictures of on the internet.  It's a blatant copy, but I thought that if I could make a decent replica of it, it would be good practice.  I had a great time, never knowing that it would eventually be a step toward the things I'm doing now.
I sculpted the face, mixed Utracal (a tough dental plaster) and made a 2 piece head mold...embedding some plaster bandage material in the plaster for strength.  The I pulled it apart, removed the clay and poured latex into the cavity of the mold (it's called a slush mold because you slush around the latex to get into all the crevices).
 After letting it cure a bit (the plaster pulls moister from the latex and forms a skin). I emptied the remaining latex and let it cure some more.  I pulled out my first (and what would be my last) latex mask from the mold.  I didn't immediately make more casts, but instead began painting the first.  Eventually, an accident would destroy the mold before I could make more copies.  The only pull, though, has survived and gets hauled out every halloween to decorate our house or my shop.
Many things have changed since then, but my love of Halloween, sculpture and all things that go bump in the night has remained.  The skills I started developing then have also heavily influenced what I'm doing now. 
For that, I thank Jeff and wish him a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Custom Pub Table

Projects come in all shapes and sizes....
Having completed a mural, my next project has been a custom pub table, painted with a portion of a famous movie poster.  It still needs the top coats that will protect the table from countless beverages, but it's already looking pretty good, I think...
I began with a base, purchased in an auction for about $6.  I made the top from about 6 pieces of oak, which I joined together and gave a routed edge. A support piece of plywood is attached underneath and to the base.  Then I projected the movie poster onto the top (I layed it on it's side on a bench to do the projecting and painting).  Then I spent a couple hours painting...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


A very good friend of mine spent many summers doing murals all over the U.S. and Canada.  He's completed well over a hundred murals during his career.  I have had the opportunity to paint on one of his projects and have become a member of the "Walldogs" in the last couple years.  In a short period of time, I've had the great fortune to help paint a half dozen or so murals.  Each was a different style and had it's own set of challenges.
Today I completed the first mural of my own.  I wanted to give something to the community where I live and show that community service comes in many forms.
The city came up with the funds for the paint, and other materials and I did the rest.
I even got to run the firetruck in our town to power wash the building long before we began painting!
I designed the mural, primed the wall and on a brisk morning near the end of September I started.
In just a few days I met literally hundreds of people I hadn't yet met in our town.  I laughed, joked and generally explained what I was doing to anyone who wanted to know.
I received a pie from one person who just wanted to say thanks for the work!
Best of all, I had a young girl from town ask to help paint. She's getting ready for eighth grade and likes to draw and paint.  She was willing to do anything I asked- from sweeping to painting the wall around the mural.  I let her put in the bottom corner border decorations (that's where Dan started me!) and she did great. 
I lost count of how many people stopped to say thanks and tell me how thrilled they were with the wall.  It was a reward in itself that I'll never forget no matter how many murals I paint. In the meantime, this is number one.