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!
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 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
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! :)
I got to host and teach a straw figure workshop last Saturday. We ended up being 5 people, all of whom had fun making characters out of straw and wire. I thought the results were cool to see :)
I just put my 2nd Kasperle-Mask on Ebay and am excited to see what happens. :)
While I was doing some research for my history presentation, I came across the “medical knowledge” of the 12th century, as told by Hildegard of Bingen. It’s quite something to realize that what she was writing about medicine was what was considered “state of the art”, because most of it is really absurd. Here’s what she has to say about the medical purposes of unicorns:
“The unicorn […] is a herbivore. It avoids humans and other animals. It especially fears the presence of men […] but it follows women. That is why you hardly catch one of them. […] The pulverised liver can be mixed with egg yolk to form a salve to cure leprosy, unless God wills for that person to die, then the salve won’t help. A belt made from the skin of a unicorn protects its wearer from the plague and from fever. Shoes made of unicorn leather impart strength and health to feet, joints and legs.”
And this morning and early afternoon I decided to design a book cover for my new German Luther-Bible. I decided to go for a Chagall-inspired look. I would have liked it to turn out with slightly different colors, but I’m still pleased with it. The Hebrew verses add a bit of something extra to it :)
I just put a final coat of varnish on my Kasperle-mask, and declare him finished! I know that sounds overly dramatic, but it was a big moment to see him all painted.
Tomorrow we have an opening ceremony for the new students, and each student is supposed to bring an object which describes something about them. I’ll bring Kasperle as my object. I think people will like him, but I hope he doesn’t scare anyone. Masks can be creepy as well as cool.
I had to get up unexpectedly early this morning because my brother overslept and needed a ride to his workplace by 7AM. This was not to my liking… but while I was listening to the radio I learned an unexpected fun fact: There is a German saying to describe that all is well, it literally means “everything is in butter” (alles in Butter). The reporter said that the origin of this saying lies centuries ago, in the export of Venetian porcellain. In order to keep the pieces from breaking during transport, they would stack it in barrels and fill these with liquid butter. When the butter hardened it would keep the ware safe. When the porcellain arrived at it’s destination, they just melt the butter again. You never know when you’ll learn something new!
I spent the day in a low-key way, but still got some cleaning/packing done for my move to seminary. I also figured I should post some updates on my art projects: