I Hope you all had a super fine awesome Thanksgiving! I did, and we’re still eating the leftovers! The pecan pie’s all gone though… both of them…AND the burnt one…I couldn’t stop. Between meals, there have been an increasing number of niggling things to deal with including (but not limited to) THE HOLIDAYS!! On the up-side, the weather is cooling off and I might be able to break out the cosy clothsy – hoodies and sweaters and such. And on the up-side, I whisked away all the afore mentioned “little niggling things” and buried my nose in a book for almost 2 weeks.
What an escape! I got caught up in the Dexter novel series by Jeff Lindsay, “The book that inspired the hit TV series!”. It’s just barely like the TV show in all the ways that count, but different enough to not interfere with your enjoyment of both. I visualize Dexter differently in the books than he’s portrayed in the TV show and his “dark passenger” is practically a character all to itself. The action scenes in the book are also quite breathtaking with, like, the bullet-time cameras! So I finished the most current Dexter is Delicious and have my fingers crossed there are more being written (it’s so relaxing in the mind of a sociopath). I went straight from Dex to Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson. I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by the “epicness” of it, i.e. I can’t stay awake through a single Lord of the Rings movie. I may have mentioned it during my posts while building Anslow Orange: I dig robots; not that I am mechanically inclined at all, I just appreciate their logic and think they’re quite cool looking. As a bonus, robots are functional, and I can definitely appreciate that. I am constantly on the lookout to make my art functional, but like many robots, my artistic ventures sometimes fall short of “practical” function.
On the up-side, my art has never risen up in rebellion against the human race. I began a real head scratcher almost 13 years ago while trying my hand at whittling. It was way back when I had finished the book Momo by Michael Ende for the first time. He’s the same guy who wrote The Neverending Story, which should in no way be judged by the movies it inspired. One of the characters from the book Momo is a turtle named Cassiopeia. She is a tortoise who can communicate through written messages that appear on her shell and can see 30 minutes into the future. This turtle’s special connection with time gave me the idea to make a pocket watch shaped like a turtle shell.
As you can see, I carved out a section of the wooden shell to house a watch face. The difficulty came when I tried to carve the second half of the pocket watch. Try as I might with a little pocket knife, I couldn’t carve the turtles chest plate to match the contour of this half, so I put it on a shelf for years. The project came back off the shelf in the face of the myriad of turtles around now who tell me what’s what. It seems reasonable for there to be a turtle who tells me the time as well.
See, when I’ve had some time to sit outside and read in the early evening, there is a solar powered turtle in the backyard that lights up after it becomes too dark to read. Later on in the evening when my son’s in the bath, there’s a Bathtime Turtle who floats around and *beeps* an alarm when the bath-water is too hot or too cold. After almost a year of use it seems that water now gets trapped inside Bathtime turtle and once it get’s cold enough it *beeps*… all night long, that is until you shake the *beep* out of it. It’s takes a wile to shake the *beep* out, but once that *beeper* is shook the *beep* out, then we can get the *beep* back to sleep, and that’s the *beeping* truth!
I’m planning to make the pocket watch sculpture out of Sculpey because it’s what I have to use. I also have a working little clock face I bought quite a while ago, but specifically for this project. Without a real plan I began with the clock face and worked outward. I surrounded the clock with clay and formed a simple half to the pocket watch (before I bake the clay I will remove the clock face).
Now that there is a basic half completed I lay Cling Wrap over top of it and add clay to form the basic shape of the top half of the turtle shell. The Cling Wrap is meant to keep the two halves separate while allowing me to perfectly match the contour of the 2 pieces. It was an experimental move and worked well enough that I may utilize the technique again when I’m sculpting two halves simultaneously that I don’t want permanently stuck together.
Next comes the fun part of detailing both halves. I wanted the shell to be relatively realistic: I’m not sculpting any petrified dead turtle parts, just the shell.
Below are a couple close-up images showing the detail I achieved by roughly brushing over the shell with a firm bristled brush dipped in turpenoid. After roughing it up and allowing the turpenoid time to dry, I brushed over it again very gently with a softer brush.
Once I was happy with the look of the top of the turtle shell, I baked it for a minute with a handheld heat gun. This allowed me to remove the top shell from the Cling Wrap without deforming it too much or mashing the detail. I then proceeded onward detailing the bottom half in a similar fashion to the top, but I left it just a little rougher. Again, I baked it for a min with the handheld heat gun so that the detail wouldn’t be mashed when I removed the clock face from the other side.
With the clock face removed I baked both halves in the oven. As always, you can count on me to save the easiest part for last – and if you believe that, I’ll tell you another. Sure… hinging two pieces of brittle clay together will be a breeze; all I have to do is sprinkle this here ferry dust and spin around 3 times. No… in fact, I’m still trying to figure out how to hinge the two halves together.
I initially figured I’d hinge them by sculpting a do-hicky like so, drill a hole right trough it, put a toothpick through that hole and
… try again, apparently.
For my second try I resculpted the same clay hinge but this time I’d drill a couple slots to drop in two small pieces of metal wire (instead of one long one) and then add clay over top and seal the metal wire inside. It worked without a hitch; then I tried to open it and
For my third try I decided that a clay hinge just wasn’t going to work. Instead I needed something that wasn’t going to crack apart…
…like an old cigar box hinge. I bent it up and chopped it down to get it to the right size to fit. I embedded one side of the hinge in clay attached to the top shell, and similarly attached it to the bottom piece, so far so good…
…now this is just getting ridiculous.
Currently, I’m faced with the above, plan D… seems reasonable. Wire and beads hinge? Inventive… can be glued in place.
Have you ever conducted a feat of such daring do???