Sunday, January 25, 2015

Funny Bones (and how to permanently mend broken polymer pieces with a cast)

The February challenge theme for my guild is Masks. This was one of the themes which I had suggested to the guild when we were posting ideas, at our forum, for challenge themes. Back then I had envisioned making a beautiful mask, covered with either polymer leaves or feathers and possibly an asymmetrical  design with lots of swirls... but as often happens, the stray inspiration of an object, on which to build my mask, took over and my original beautiful vision was left behind in the dust.




"Why give up on the beautiful mask idea? What object could have made me abandon my original idea to create this creepy thing?", you may ask. I always try to be a couple months ahead in my planning/idea stage for the challenges, so this all happened after Thanksgiving dinner when I saw the bones from the turkey. I think I've mentioned on this blog before that I'm a vegetarian, but we do get a humane organic turkey, from a local farm, on Thanksgiving to share with our guests who are not vegetarian. So, after the Thanksgiving meal, as I was cleaning up the kitchen I saw the unique shape of the breast bone and immediately saw a face in it, which hijacked my mask idea from my beautiful mask plans to something creepy-funny-wierd.

Here's the inspiration that I couldn't ignore:

You can see where I saw the nose. The side bones were too close and lined up over my eyes, so these I cut off and then angled out to the sides. The entire piece was covered with a thin layer of white polymer which I texturized around the "face". I knew the mask would be too heavy to be held in place by some sort of tied band at the back of the head; and I didn't want the wearer to be encumbered by upholding the mask with a stick. So I came up with the idea of a bridge spanning over the top of the head.



The armature for the head band was added by drilling a hole into the top area of the "nose" through which a wire was fed. The wire was doubled up and curved over the crown of my head. I then covered the head band wire armature with aluminum foil to make a thicker armature. This was covered with white polymer. Unfortunately, while I was handling the piece firmly, the side bone areas on the face broke off, even though they were covered with clay and cured, I'm guessing this is because I put too much force on those areas, plus the armature of that area was thin turkey bones which are quite brittle. I glued them back and covered with another layer of thin clay and the entire piece went through a second cure.


After the second cure, I added wire armature for the spider-like arms at the top of the head, and once again the side face bones broke. So I devised a method, that is similar to making a cast, to secure them. After curing my cast method, I had no further breaking problems even when I put force on the appendages. I also decided to treat the upper head "arms" to the cast treatment to ensure no breakage with those wired armature appendages. I photographed the process and will share here what I did:


So, if you have a piece that keeps breaking, how do you fix it, to prevent it from breaking again? First, using a strong glue (I used super glue), glue the piece back in place. Then, take a thin sheet of something porous (thin fabric would work, but I used a spent dryer sheet).  Cut a strip of your fabric or dryer sheet and saturate it with liquid sculpey or bake 'n bond. Adhere the soaked strip to the area around the break (see bottom left image), wrapping the area a couple times to ensure a strong cast. Then using a heat tool, cure the cast (you may have to hold the end of the strip in place with a needle tool until the heat fully cures the liquid clay). Add a layer of bonding agent and cover with a thin layer of the original polymer color and smooth or texturize as desired. Fully cure in oven at temperature suggested on polymer packaging.


After the breakages were finally resolved with their cast fixes, and the upper antenna arms were reinforced with a cast, I decided to add spiked horns to the band across the head. The armature for the spikes were the wooden rods of spent Q-tips which I had saved to upcycle. I drilled holes into the band and glued the wooden rods into the holes. Then I covered them with white clay and twisted them up to create the horns you see. Back into the oven everything went for a third curing.


The last thing I decided to add were the armored plates on the headband and the rings surrounding the horns. I decided these plates would finish off the headband well and would not demand a lot of time (something of which I'm always in short supply while creating challenge pieces!). After these additions were made and a final curing, the entire piece was treated to an antiquing with a burnt umber oil paint and then heat set. 




While it was indeed fun to just let the piece create itself from the initial base material, this is so far beyond my typical style! Whenever I put it on my face though, it just makes me giggle cause it's so silly to me. I'm sure someone somewhere would like this mask, but it's definitely not for me. I may make some more changes to it and I am considering listing it in my etsy shop. I'm a bit wary of listing this piece only because I'm not certain it would fit the face of everyone (since it was basically custom fit to my face). It does look kind-of cool just sitting on a table though, perhaps for someone who likes creepy weird items to decorate...  I may still add some things to it and am considering adding another layer of antiquing in black to give more depth and interest. What do you think of my creepy mask? Would you have guessed that it was built upon the breast bone of a turkey? Leave me a comment below and tell me your thoughts!

This challenge vote will open on February 1st. I'll be sure to post here a reminder when the voting is open!

12 comments:

  1. Impresionante trabajo. Imaginación, inimaginable...con la capacidad de ver solo unos huesos y en la mente ver una máscara. Mi admiración profunda y felicitaciones. Usted se ha superado. Saludos cordiales

    Impressive work. Imagination, unimaginable... with the ability to see only a few bones and mind see a mask. My deep admiration and congratulations. You has been exceeded. Best regards

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    1. Thank you so much María Teresa, for your kind comments!

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  2. WOW!!!! I am glad you included pictures of you wearing the mask, otherwise I had no idea of the size.

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    1. Thanks Lyone for the comment and for checking out the blog post! :)

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  3. What a cool mask! I love that you incorporated the turkey bone into it as well. Thanks so much for posting the method you used to repair the bone break. That is something I will store away in my mental tool box to use next time I have to repair something >)

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    1. Thanks so much dundeegirl2 for stopping by and for the kind comment! I hope the polymer "cast" is useful to you in the future! ;)

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  4. I love these little insights into how your mind works. You have a gift for seeing things for what they can be and not just what they are. And then you take risks in your designs so the rest of us can see what do. A true artist. And it's so great to read about how you overcome design challenges rather than giving up. This mask is creeptastic. Excellent design and execution.

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    1. Thanks so much Tammy, for your generous comments! :) I'm glad that relating how my crazy mind works is inspiring to you and others! ;)

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  5. I. LOVE IT. I am also not really into this type of stuff, but the artistic genius of the piece is undeniable! You have an amazing eye. I feel that there are many people who fit into this niche of lovers of the macabre. My only critique is that the "spider-like arms" could be tapered a bit more - maybe even slightly more pointed on the ends. However, the mask is so striking and so gorgeous, it really looks incredible as is.

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    1. Thanks so much Mary, for your thoughtful comments! I see what you mean about the spider-like arms and I do believe that would give it a creepier feel... when I made them I was mimicking the natural shape of the turkey bones, but with the horns on top of the head, a pointier end on those spider arms would fit in too! Thanks for the thought! And thanks for leaving me a comment!

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  6. That is fantastic. Part way through reading about it, I just had to scroll down to see how on earth the thing could be used as a mask. You wouldn't be eating many goodies wearing it! In the end, to me, it makes a beautiful sculpture just as it is in the picture at the top. Set it on a mantlepiece or coffee table and bring on the conversations!
    Thanks for the tip about the cast.

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    1. Thank you so much! Glad you like the "cast" tip! :)

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