Hello Twig Family! Back with another update. I am always floored at how much time has passed since my last post. A lot of transition lately. I have moved 9 times since January! I have been housesitting since this winter to save money while I am completing my certification in TRE (a tension and trauma releasing process). Things always seem to move slower than I anticipate they are going to... and yet each day goes by so quickly!
Toothwalker head number 2
I am liking this head more as a final puppet than the wool felted one I was working on in the previous post.
the start of the foam carved head...tusks (as seen in the previous update)
then remember I papermached over the foam for strength
Now I need a helmet "form" to attach to the head so I can wear it. I had the idea to make a bent-wood form. So, I took several pieces of thin wood, like these in the photo, and i soaked them in a tub of water for a day.
When they were soft and pliable I bent them in the shape I wanted and clamped them into position. I was surprised at how easy this was to create as I had never done it before. It went along without a hitch!
When the piece had dried out completely I riveted it together.
and then cut off all the ends
and vwalla! a little helmet
I then seated this together into the foam tusk piece
see the hole in the wood piece? (where it meets the foam) I will slide some type of tube/pipe into that hole and all the way through the foam to help secure the two pieces together
Here I stuck two pieces of Pex tubing through the foam and the wood head piece to help secure the two together
Then began spraying foam (Great Stuff) in and over the head and helmet
I don't really know how to draw out plans for anything. i am just sort of making it up as i go along. Umm, maybe that was pretty obvious.
lots of foam to cover the Pex tubing secures it all together.
Then i wanted a way to attach fabric over the walrus' head (skin) and have it be supported by another strong, non-rip material, so I used this large holed mesh (normally used to protect berry bushes from the birds) one of my housesits had it on their porch and I confiscated it!
so the netting was placed on top of the head/helmet and then sprayed with foam.
here it is getting incorporated into the foam making it a strong attachment
crazy foam lady
here you can see the Pex tubes poking out the front. You thought those were eye holes didn't you?!
Now the carving begins. i loved this part, so fun to see it take shape.
I pinned some soft foam on for the muzzle, mouth and nose
As soon as i get a feel for how everything is going to come together....eyes, skin, whiskers, mechanics etc I will remove everything from the head and cover it in fabric mache (instead of paper) to give the whole head a cohesive strength
Dis Walrus got a big head!
I put in a plastic painted sphere for an eye to get an idea how it looks
Here are two eyes, the larger one on the left is glass and the one on the right, plastic.
I like the clear space at the edge of the big eye (created by the thickness of the glass). it mirrors our eyes and how if you look at a humans eye from the side you see a portion of clear dome above the iris and pupil. I also like how shiny and clear the glass eye is.
Even though i like the "look" of the glass eye I like the smaller eye (for size) better. Walrus eyes are quite small in proportion to their head. Part of what makes a walrus look like a walrus.
so, that's where we are at today. I am currently working on possibilities for skin...the melted Tyvek i showed you before, burlap patch, and other ideas.
Next post will include the head covered in different skin tests. As well, I am figuring out some very basic head mechanics....eyelids open and close with some simple mouth movement - not so much to open and close the mouth as to just give it some slight muscle movement so it feels alive.
Trying to get the shape of the head right before I needle felt the foam.
Felting around the nose. I used a brown wool fiber to do the muzzle to add some definition as i think the whiskers will be white. The wool fibers pull out with a little effort if i change my mind on the coloring.
Insert glass taxidermy eye to see what his presence feels like. I actually like the coloring and shape of this eye even though its not realistic. It looks nice against the white. Walrus's eyes are brown and the pupil is large and more square.
I am working on a mannequin so i can get a feel for what the head looks like on a human body
Looks like a walrus with a bad "habit". tehe. aka "the flying walrus"
feeling out colors and pieces to add when project is closer to completion...
So, remember the other skin covering I said I was excited about...the melted Tyvek? Well, I don't feel the felted skin and the Tyvek really go together so I decided to just construct another head and try out the Tyvek skin on the new one....who knows...maybe they would mesh well together. The needle felting is very neat and compact and i may a bit more patchy and random with the Tyvek....we'll see.
I decided to start this one from pink insulation foam...glued together with spray caulk foam
yes, it is fragile.
Reinforcing with 4 layers of paper mache and white glue. This adds a tremendous amount of strength. Will it be enough??? not sure!
Paper mache can get tedious! especially if your pieces of paper are smaller....So I am watching a movie while i work! I found the DVD "Tusk" at our local library....couldn't believe they had a copy! The movie was fun and I liked it till Johnny Depp's part. He slowed the film down too much.
Dollar store ping pong balls to practice making eyes and some basic mechanics. This time I am trying out more realistic coloring and size....just to see if i like it. Ultimately I would like the final eyes to be glass whether they are realistic or not. There is a depth with glass you just can't replicate with plastic....plastic also reflects too much....you can't see 'into' the eye.
brown eyes and square pupil for walrus
Here are some wires I used for lids...they hinge
I glued the ping pong ball into a plastic dome shaped candy mold from Jo-anns.
Then I used the edges of the candy mold to run a cable through
This is the eye closed
and by pulling on the cables the eye opens
Here is the eye with mini springs on the lids. The springs push and keep the lids in a closed position until .....
the cable pulls them open.
That's it for Toothwalker today. Next post....more on Tyvek skin walrus. Obviously the mechanics would be covered with some type of lid material....tyvek probably. look forward to sharing next phases with you all
Theatre design .....
Theatre is on its back for ease of working and access.
Here you see the design is completely cut out....hand sanding pieces
Sanding theatre doors to give the surface(where I will glue down the cut-outs) some tooth.
Staining pieces...not too dark to start out with. I can always go darker
Nothing is glued down yet....just feelin' out the look of it.
So, my sense here is......I love the design and the cut-outs. Not crazy about how much it still looks like ply. May have to stain much darker
or play with some faux finishes for the next update.
This is from this morning....about 8 inches!....we've gotten about 3 more inches since then! And it is still coming down!
Here are the original curtains. Linen. My intention was to paint an Art Nouveau design on them to bring in some color and whimsy. The dark earthiness of all the wood needs some sparkly festive color so it feels balanced.
So!!!!!! Plans change! I found this delightfully fun fabric and pink frilly top at the thrift store not long ago. Cotton Candy and circus tent stripeys. I love it
At first I was imagining making a clown puppet and saving it for just that ...and then i had the thought....wow, it might make really lovely curtains!
Here they are! There was literally just enough fabric and I managed to spread out the ruffle for all three puppet compartments! (you know, places where the puppets will hide) Much more festive now...old timey, french circus carnival thing a happenin'.
Now for another colorful element......
The Dragonfly door!!
This little compartment door needs some fixin's.
I have this fastcast (resin plastic) tile I made years ago. Originally I sculpted it out of clay, made a silicone mold from the clay and then poured the fastcast into the silicone mold. The thin one on the right was a thin tile I made and now I want to put it into this little door.
So, I chiseled it out.
Vwalla! I tried some acrylic paint on it just for an idea of what color might look like. Acrylic and plastic don't take well to each other.In fact that paint will just wipe off with soap and water. I will look for some special plastic paints or dyes to give it a rich colorful splash...the other tile above (the thicker one) was dyed with bright inks...
For this dragonfly maybe some yellow or gold and magenta in there and a darker color for the space around the dragonfly.
little nature spirit
Art Nouveau Doors!!
For this project I utilized the mini mock-up of the theatre. I have wanted to do some trim around the edges of the doors to help the theatre lose that "rectangle box look" . I had played earlier this year with some ideas and none of them worked for me. A coupla of weeks ago I decided to give it another try. I sketched out a few designs before I found these two and mocked them up on the model.
Sort of a butterfly...A little thick and too much.
This one I love! It not only creates a shape that takes your eye off the straight edges of the box, it also mimics the design in the lanterns. The design came from a turn-of-the-century hutch. I am tickled.
Drew the design on a piece of 1/8" ply- the size of the door. I will cut out the shapes and then trace the other one and then glue onto each door.
Here is the final design, taped off so that when I cut out the shapes with the jigsaw it doesn't tear the layers on the ply. The boomerang circus finials will be removed and used for something else.
I love this design on the theatre...My vision all along for the theatre has been a mosh of old timey, Gypsy/nature,European Art Nouveau, whimsical carnival, dark and magical! It is finding itself. Might have to do some crocheted moss and danglies hanging down over the top of the theatre and the tops of the lanterns..... To give it that 'just unearthed from the Enchanted Forest' look!
Here is the other door half done. Working with the scrap materials I have I will piece together the design on the second door. It will hardly be noticeable when I am done.
Sanding required on all edges. Then staining. I don't want the design to be ALL you see on the theatre so I will stain them darker-not as dark as the theatre though. At the the same time I don't want to lose the whimsical lines.
They are clamped on at this point. Next update they will be stained and glued on.
Once the doors are complete it about wraps up the "backside" of the theatre. Yes, this is the back side. The other side of the theatre faces the audience and has the name of the theatre on it. So, aside from various little touches the main things to complete on the theatre are the front design and getting her a pair O' wheels!
I have purposely waited on the wheels so that I could see what looks best with the complete design. I have been thinking wagon wheels all along -to give an old Gypsy feel to it. But recently have considered other ways to look Gypsy-ish without going with heavy, loud rumbling wagon wheels.
I like something about this wheel but not sure it has the visual heaviness that fits the theatre. It is just a 28" bicycle wheel with no rubber on it. Mostly I wanted to see what the spokes looked like.
This is more what a wagon wheel would look like
I have wondered what a an old Penny Farthing wheel would look like on it.(???) It would be dark or black and still have the spokes. I like the black spokes -Could be interesting. I think the biggest I can go with a wheel is 30" or 32". After that it is just too big. Some things to think about.
puttin' along. Slow and mighty! All for now.
Thanks fer hangin' twig gang. Much love to you all.
Next update will be finished doors and some more on Toothwalker.
I learned a lot from the first costume frame I played with. Seen here with attached moveable, rotating parts to allow the puppet certain movements. The shoulder pads were a thrift store find.
My vision was to refine this design to the bare minimum for the Walrus Shaman puppet
I started with flat-stock aluminum from Lowes...I love it...lightweight, strong, bendable and yet holds its shape
This width of aluminum may end up being too bare minimum. In that case I can just bump it up to the next size. It is a simple build.
I made this on Wednesday in a couple of hours. Ultimately it will get covered with foam and black fabric so it will be comfortable and hidden underneath the skin of the walrus
I see it being a frame to support the walrus skin as well as his arms. I imagine the skin and arms being super lightweight.
Speaking of skin...I bought an $11 tyvek suit at Lowes! This was too exciting! Tyvek is a very thin lightweight plastic "fabric" that is also very strong and won't tear.
I wanted to experiment with melting it....yes, melting it! for walrus skin. I had run across melted tyvek online when I was doing a search for simulated animal hides. And gosh dern it if it doesn't look just like walrus skin!
Heat gun on low....gave this melting effect....large bubbles
Here is the same spot cut and splayed open. The left side is melted the right is not.
Some paint and holey moley!!!
Looks just like me !
With some light shining through ...it has some semblance of animal hide.
And this skin (tyvek) isn't even going to be the main skin that you see on the walrus. It will be underneath a crocheted skin-covering composed of white and sea-foam green wool yarn, shells, barnacles, seaweed and other imagery. The crochet style will be a free-form open weave. I have been teaching myself to crochet!
In case you have never heard of or seen free-form crochet you will be most inspired by the work of free-form crochet artist- Mandy Greer. Her work makes my chest explode!
For me I feel its movement under my skin... it has a drippy feel to it ....art nouveau. I am very excited to attempt to emulate the feeling her crochet style has for me. (for the Walrus' outer skin.) The tyvek skin will give support and show through the open weave of the crochet.
Here is Mandy with one of her installations.....
"Mandy Greer creates a site-specific spatial installation that visitors can explore through sculptural objects with a biological and phytomorphic appearance that allude to the stories and images of mythological worlds, combining shamanism and Native American traditions."
I love that...."a biological and phytomorphic appearance" !!
Below is some of her inspiring work....
Mandy Greer Crochet
Mandy Greer crochet
Mandy Greer Crochet
Mandy Greer crochet
Thank you Mandy for the beauty that comes through you!
Hello Everyone, I am excited to share with you some changes I have made to the project so that it could move forward. I hope that you will also be pleased with the direction it is taking. As you are aware I have been struggling for some time with the Shaman Puppet.... his head and face. And this has slowed(actually halted) the process of the entire project. I have made attempts at different faces and have felt they do not capture the original face that inspired the Earth Shaman to begin with.
The shell face that inspired the making of the Earth Shaman.
Was not moved by this although it looks pretty close to original
tried for a bit more abstract as the roundness of the previous face wasn't working for me
another try, alien looking
With this one I was having fun with the eyes and creating lids and depth but ultimately was not pleased with the outcome.. I have experimented with different crude materials and many false starts and I have not been very moved by any of the creations to continue their build to a final puppet . I have been fairly unsure of myself throughout the making of this character. What is so hard about this?? For one - I haven't been able to bring any depth or dimension to his face... It has a flatness to it, an alien-ness and feels somewhat scary. I can't seem to get away from this. I have asked myself, "Am I never going to be satisfied with what I come up with?....is that what is going on here?" ....OR have I been merely pushing something that isn't to be. Am I listening?....deeply enough? quietly enough? To what wants to be created here.
One thing that is clear that wasn't before.... it is often difficult to take something that holds a certain power (in miniature -as this sculpture/model of the Earth Shaman below) and re-create it enlarged and expect it to retain that same magical-ness. It is the actual "miniature-ness and scale" of the object/creature that lends that 'special something' to the imagination. I have been trying to do this with his face and, for me, it has not been working.
It feels very important for me to finish this project -not only for myself but for the project and all of my supporters...YOU! This fall I felt the push from Kickstarter about "project completion and fulfillment". This bore heavily on me as the project has not been moving ahead. I felt that something drastic was in order....so I sat with the original idea and vision I had (of the Earth Shaman) and asked myself some questions. ..
I know I want this puppet to be "of" the Earth, not an alien-looking being. I asked myself what kind of energy does the face in the shell elicit in me. What does it feel like? Does it feel more human or more animal? a blend?"
I went on a bit of a journey, drumming a little, looking for some answers. I had only 'journey-drummed' once( several years ago) and my experience of it was very powerful. ...so I thought I would seek its assistance again. I kept a notepad next to me as I closed my eyes and just played a steady rhythm on the drum. nothing special.... just a rhythm. What I have experienced is that it does something very interesting.....It promotes a deeper council with ones self by shutting off the head....by dampening the mindless chatter and the more cerebral concepts. And in this blank space, this stillness - the language of the heart can be heard- it speaks in feelings, sensations, whispers, images, symbols, metaphors, fragments of ideas, words and phrases. It is nothing short of an amazing creative discovery....a seemingly magical attunement and yet so very natural to access the recesses of the imaginative heart in this way. The dream drumming itself forth...
This Shaman is slow and deliberate in his movements, I feel this movement in my own body.
even if he is mostly animal...it feels clear that it is still a Shamanic representation of that animal. the spirit of that animal.
I kept getting the feeling of something large.... a water creature maybe....the original Earth Shaman WAS inspired by a sea shell( a bi-valve mollusk).
is it a manatee? It does move slow and benthic. It's wisdom is ancient. Seeing and feeling images of heaviness and weight.
yes, a bit like a manatee...the nose large and bulby. and yet, not quite.
Then a strong image of a walrus came in...a walrus?! hmmm, something about this is resonating within me. The energy of the Shamans indeed feels like the energy of a walrus. Especially Its mouth and nose... a part of the Earth Shaman i have had so much difficulty with. The walrus' face also has a tremendous amount of depth and dimension
I sat with this for a time. I liked it. And then some fear came up.....Wow, this feels like a big change from the 'Earth Shaman face' to a 'Walrus face'... What will everyone on the project think about this?.... Is this too far from the original idea?
Walrus Shaman, Ron "Qay" Apangalook. Anchorage Alaska, ca. 2009
ooooh, I love this.
I found some amazing art honoring the Walrus in the lives of the Inuit people.
As I research images and see this animals' magnificence my fear is melting, i am warming to the idea. They are stunning and strange... mythical looking beasts.
In subsequent drummings I saw a white Walrus with a heart of fire in its chest...as a white being he becomes the spirit symbol of the living animal....as well asa visual representation of the snowy arctic environment he is so adept at navigating. Very exciting development. The drumming opens the door to the sacred language that my minds literal-ness can't wrap itself around. This is good
nursing calf- see a 2 minute video here of mother and calf
I love the embrace. I had no idea the females had tusks too! Hmm...will the new Shaman be male or female?!! Time will tell as the story unfolds.
As I was doing research on the walrus...just out of curiosity, I googled 'white walrus'.
This is what came up......
Kevin Smiths new horror/comedy/drama film. And yes, It's about a white walrus..... sort of. How is this possible!!! What are the odds!? This kind of collective consciousness manifestation blows me mind! ....Like everyone around the world simultaneously being 'into' dragonflys.
I WAS fancying the word 'TUsk' for this new Shaman being......imagining something along the lines of Earth Tusk and maybe not so sure about the horror film connection and then I found
The tusks are perhaps the most useful adaptation of a walrus. They are dramatically elongated upper canine teeth, not horns like some used to believe. These tools are used primarily for hauling a walrus's great girth out of the cold water. This action is where the scientific name Odobenus comes from. The word translates to "toothwalker".
I like the sound of "Toothwalker" It has a powerful ring. Sounds like Truthwalker. What story will this Benthic Shaman tell? It is too early for the name to lock itself in...this however remains a powerful inspiration.
I was very excited to dive into this beings creation .....Will this work as a Shaman puppet? What does that even mean? Such a serious question!! I AM a Capricorn you know! Why wouldn't it work!!!
So I dove in.... using my preferred method of fleshing out a puppet....foam
I used this image as a reference for the walrus skull
More puppet guts.....all over....everything
I cut the skull apart so I could take out some of the length and bulk. Its foam, you can do that!
Coating the Tusks with rubber latex so I can paint them white like ivory/bone. The rubber coating helps the foam take the paint.
White coat going on
Looking tusky now. Refining the look of the nose.
So, at this point I was wondering and wandering back and forth..... a dance between how metaphorical do I want this to be...... (a skull and tusks with a black socket eye )versus( a live walrus that opens its eyes and looks at you.)(???) I love the power of metaphor in storytelling and yet I want to feel and experience the soul and personality of the animal itself. I found my answer as I saw the animal in the flesh ...white like the arctic ground it walks upon and only partially constructed(only a partial visual representation of the living walrus).Mostly just the head, chest and front flippers
This is enough of an abstraction. I see it in my minds eye working!
Speaking of eyes....if he is to come to life I want him to have eyes. At least for now!
Here are some eyes I found a friend had in his treasure chest...they are glass taxidermy eyes. They are nice and even can be somewhat illuminated from behind so they can be seen better for an evening performance. Walrus eyes are brown and black....but I am staying open to what feels the best versus what may be anatomically correct.
Here is my first attempt at whiskers...stripped chicken feathers!
coated with rubber latex and painted white. They are flexible and fairly strong.
Here I have covered the foam carved skull with a thin layer of flesh. Taking shape now. Starting to feel really right. I hope you are as surprised (in a delighted way!) with how he is taking shape. I never would have cognitively "chosen" a walrus and yet it is feeling right.
I must share a cool synchronicity with you I am just now realizing as I am writing this ....
The Walrus' main food source is the mollusk! He uses his tusks to dig them out.
May I remind you again the original Earth Shaman was inspired by a mollusk I found on the beach in Malibu! Maybe the story of the walrus was already inside the clam, waiting to be revealed .....
....waiting for me to work away the mud and stagnation, clear the unconciousness- healing myself before its secrets could be revealed. Walrus medicine is powerfully at work. and I never even knew it! Now I know what it meant when I saw the words "the walrus, as animal totem, reveals that which is hidden." I wondered how I could find what that meant for me. Thank you Twig family for staying with me on this healing journey. feeling a deep sense of gratitude......in awe of the mystery of how this life unfolds
as you can see I put the layer of thin foam right over the skull
He's looking good!
For his 'skin' I decided to play with some white sheep fibers I have. This is what the fibers look like before I comb them out and punch them into the polyfoam with a very sharp felting needle.
This needle punches the fibers in and through the foam....it's actually locked down pretty good.
I like the look of the white wool (much better than painting the foam)and will punch it into the rest of his head.
I awoke to a sweet walrus on my bed this morning ......Tickling my ear with not-yet-there whiskers.....whispering the secrets of the universe. Am I listening? Do I want to know what is hidden?
For your viewing pleasure i did a quick-rig mouth and eyes. Just to give a feel for where he is going.
I worked on this last month and really wanted to get it to a certain place before I shared the progress with you all. For myself I really needed to know if this was just another sort of 'sidetrack' away form the original idea or if this was indeed the natural movement of the original idea. It feels right I must say. I have journeyed several other times with this puppet and have gotten pieces of a story with other walrus', an orca, a polar bear and many just wildly creative ideas that are fleshing themselves out! I watch as I am becoming more of an observer, a witness and facilitator to this unfolding process rather than the controller of...
For this photo I let go of the eye to get a photo without my hand in there and because the foam was just folded and held into place- it began to unfold when I let go....it now looks like a little Star Wars Jawa tucked in there. I love when weird things like this happen.. Imagine a being whose eyes are two beings hanging out on his face. hmmm something there! Two beings in symbiotic relationship -helping each other
Different eye shapes
something like this....
more posts soon! And I mean it this time!
Oh yeah and .....I do not own nor did I take any of the walrus photos!