It’s cold and rainy these days and it gets dark before 5 PM. This is not the kind of thing to encourage a person. But luckily there is a lot you can do indoors, like studying, or reading, or making costumes.
I finally could bring my mannequin out from the art room in the basement to my dorm room on the top floor. Eventhough it’s hollow, it’s heavier than you might think. It now stands at the far end of my room and lightens up the costume corner:
I put my mannequin right to work by modeling my costume for the party next week. I have been getting a cowgirl costume ready and could see the pieces coming together for the first time. I really like how the pieces are working together and just prepared some final details like the holster and some fringe. Soon, I will have it done!
I also got some work done on the elephant mask. It will be a gift for a friend, so I want to get it done really well. I seem to have trouble with the painting techniques, though. I get the procedures of oil painting and acrylic painting mixed up, meaning that I apply the colors in the wrong order and intensity at a time. This can result in kind of a mess. But I had the same issue with the rhino mask and it turned out just fine. So this will work out, too.
I’ve been working on this mannequin project over the course of the last month. I will use it to design costumes and display them once they are finished.
A couple of days ago, The mannequin got its burlap “skin” coat, and today I painted that coat light grey. When that dries, I can consider this project done!
I also put some base layers of paint on the elephant mask.
And I did some more work on my cowboy costume by braiding and heatsealing a lasso. I had salvaged some plastic “rope” from an old seat and did a simple french braid. I used simple office clips to keep the long strands of rope from tangling while I was braiding them. That way, I could make a long rope within just a few hours.
Since this was old rope, it was frayed up on quite a few spots. Some hot air from the heat gun melted those loose ends and made the rope more stable.
rope braiding setup
rope before heat treatment
after the heat treatment
first layer of cloth
burlap with patterns
Plastic covering, to draw out the pattern for the burlap layer
part of the gun
first gun in rough assembly
I’ve been working on my mannequin and adding new layers to stabilize it. I will add a final layer of white-painted burlap to finish it off.
The reason I made this mannequin is to use it in making my costumes. And for starters, I will be making a cowboy-costume for a christmas party (costume party with the motto “throwback thursday”). I could probably put together a good costume as is, but I wanted a challenge. So I will take it to the next level with some custom parts: two gun props, a customized hat, a lasso, (maybe some leather gloves) and a leather skirt. I’ve finished parts of the first gun and the weathering on the hat.
How did you fill your day? I had a day off from school and several options to act upon. And though I did do several things, the most noteworthy among these would be a spontaneous build: A mannequin to hold up and display my costumes.
I built it out of reclaimed materials I had lying around the studio: wire mesh, wood scraps, screws, string, and papermaché. The frame will probably need some more reinforcement, but the basic structure is in place. I’m actually surprised at how well it is turning out and can’t wait to dress it up! :)
I am a few days late with this, but here are some pictures of the dorm living room. It’s still missing some pillows and some new pictures on the wall, but apart from that, this project is basically done. :)
Also, the rhino mask is now varnished and done. I think I like it as much as my old mask, if not more :)
And finally, I did some more work on an elephant mask for a friend of mine. Today, it got the ears and some more wrinkles on the trunk. I think it’s the first time I’ve tried to cover such large free-hanging spaces with paper-maché. I used cloth, which seems to be working well. Excited to see how it turns out!
I was able to go and do some work in the art studio, for the first time in a few weeks. I am painting my rhino mask and an oil painting of tomato plants. Both of these will need more work, but not until they are dry.
I’m also doing a drawing class online. One of the assignments was to draw a boot/shoe with mainly lines and to then add in some basic shading.
And I mounted the door knobs on the little grey cabinet. I purposely went for a variation of knobs to make it look more eclectic. Things are fun when they are not all uniform all the time :)
I was in Italy for another 3 days before returning home. We went to a Canyon to do some rock climbing on the last day. Apart from that we just enjoyed the sun :)
Now that I’m back in Germany, I went to Ewersbach for a few days. I’m moving from one room to another room in the dorm. Packing things, carrying them over, walking back and forth. Things are moving.
On the art side, I feel inspired and stressed at the same time. Inspired because of new ideas, stressed because I don’t have much time. In between stacking books and sorting clothes I have some small projects going: final touches on my rhino mask, painting the palette shelf and starting a new painting. All these things are works in progress, and they don’t happen themselves. But I’m moving.
Then, something else that might not be so obvious. A mysterious health issue that has been following me for 7 years and might now be uncovered: a fungal infection in my intestines. It’s treatable, but the treatment is tedious and takes a long time. I’m taking the medication and I’m not excited about the way I feel physically, but I’m glad to finally have a lead. And as tedious as the treatment is, I know this isn’t going to last. It’s slow, I’ll probably have setbacks. But most important… I’m moving.
We slept in and had a simple form of fresh bruschetta. I just put together some tomatoes, onions, garlic, mozzarella, spices and olive oil and vinegar. The lemon rind added a nice touch :)
Then we drove into Lucca and rented some bikes for a few hours. You can ride on top of the city wall and also inside the city center. We’ve been here a few times before, but it’s beautiful each time. I got to see the inside of St. Martin’s Cathedral, with an original painting by Tintoretto. We also saw a giant horse sculpture while cycling the city wall. I think it must be new, I don’t remember it from before. You always can discover something new if you keep your eyes open :)
I revamped an old desk lamp and made it into a taller lamp for the new student living room. The stand is made of concrete and a metal rod from an old bed. I think it will look great when it finds its home in Ewersbach. :)
Speaking of light, you know what is attracted by light?
Flies. In our case, about a hundred (!) of them. I have no idea where they are coming from, but they have taken over the kitchen. They are all over the windows and don’t seem to be impressed by the fly trap that has been there for the last 2 days.
Finally, I decided enough was enough, and I took a kitchen spatula and herded them out the window. Surprisingly, this actually worked quite well. There are still about 20 flies left, but I still think I can crown myself “Lord of the Flies” for tonight!
We are officially into our summer break. From now until Mid September, I have more time to catch up on creative projects that were on hold for a while. Here’s what I’ve tackled so far:
Project 1: The dorm living room.
This will be an ongoing project for the summer. I will be working with other people to renovate the living room, which has been the same for at least 30 years. The first step of this project was to paint two wooden side boards. They were an ugly mid-brown tone before, now they are covered with several coats of grey chalk paint (normal paint mixed with water and plaster) and a coat of varnish. Eventually some door knobs will be added.
Project 2: The Rhino.
This has been going on for a while, but now the rhino has its ears and most of its facial details (wrinkles, refined eye shape,…). Now all it needs is paint!
Project 3: A Painting
Paintings are not a thing you just “do”. The work that goes into making a canvas makes you think twice before starting. It’s like a hill you need to overcome before you even start. But when you do, it ends up being worth the trouble. In this case, I built a frame that is almost the size of a door. The canvas will be horizontal, so like a widescreen TV.
My exams are going well, with a couple more to go. But in the mean time, I am also getting some work done in the art department. (Not without studying for school, but you know what I mean)
The basic shape of my papermaché rhino mask is done. Now it needs some wrinkles and other details, as well as a bit more stability. Then it can be painted. :)
I got a hold of a palette and decided to make a shelf out of it. It’s not very high quality wood, but it can hold lots of weight and it’s what I’ve got. So I figured out a basic design and have been cutting it into usable pieces. The next step will be to get rid of all the nails and to sand down all the surfaces. Then, it can be assembled!
And another thing is progressing: Every time I look out the window or go to the student gardens, I see my plants growing more and more. It’s encouraging to know that you can create a good environment, but that your plants do the rest for you. You can’t control everything, nor do you have to. You just get to watch the progress :)
My blog has been quiet
and I’ve been working.
Here’s what I’ve been up to:
Exams are ahead
some are now passed
Lots to know, but fun as well.
I’m not a genius, but I do what I can
And that is sufficient for now.
No paintings to show
But a mask in the make
When it’s done it will crush walls
At least that’s what it looks like.
And among all things
Some writing on the wall
With Post-it scraps and paper piles
For a few months now
writing a song
And finally getting somewhere
So all in all
Life’s a bloom and I am well
One day at a time and the rest will follow
I am still working on the oil painting and am probably half done. I’m starting to get a hang of the rough canvas material I am painting on. (I had a smooth material before, but I’ve used Burlap for the last couple paintings, just to try the texture.)
And I started a new mask! :) It’ll be a remake of my rhino, which unfortunately got eaten by moths a few years ago. So, different glue and some experience later, this is what it looks like, so far. The picture on the right shows the old mask.
Today I finished the lion mask! I originally wanted it to be a male lion, but during painting, I decided to turn it into a lioness. It has a strap on it and a thin, black cloth behind the eyes. That way, you can wear it and see your environment without your eyes showing. The coat of varnish finished it off, and I am really happy about how it turned out.
I was down with a cold for a week, so I was confined to my room and the campus area. But today I was better, so I got in the car and went to buy some necessary tools and supplies, among those a new hammer. With the hammer, I could finish the canvas. I also did some work on the lion mask, widening the face and adding some lower cheek area. It’s good to be back! :)