Sunday, March 6, 2016

SCULPTURE: "Creature from the Black Lagoon"

It has been almost three months since my last post. I have been busy with various other projects. But I could not resist finishing out my studio wall with another paper mache "monstrosity". The movie "CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON" came out the year I was born in 1957. It was one of my favorite monsters growing up, and I'd watch it any time it was showing on TV.
If you have looked at the other two paper mache projects that I've posted on my blog, you will be familiar with the process. I start off gathering a lot of research images, to both inspire me, and to help me with details. I decided I needed to pose as the Creature, to figure out the perspective and proportions. Then I worked up a little composite sketch from all the research I'd found, to match the photo of myself. 
I had found a larger circular piece of wood at the hardware store and began to make my armature out of PVC pipes. I was able to bend the shape of the pipes with a heat gun, to get just the right angles I wanted. I began making the Creature's hand from heavy gauge wire. I used newspaper as filler, and began covering the shapes with masking tape.
Next I began to fill out the basic forms with more newspaper and tape. I decided it would be much easier to sculpt everything, if I kept the base and face, the arm, and the hand in separate pieces for as long as possible. I then added some mulched mache to the shoulder area, and to the forearm, to add support when dried.
The hand was my favorite part to work on. I used the same method as before, filling in the bulk with newspaper and wrapping it all with masking tape. I used wire to form the outer edges of the webbing between the fingers. Then smaller strips of tape were used to fill in the open spaces and create a membrane to add mache to.
Once I had my basic forms built, I began to add paper mache mulch to build up the stucture. When dry after a couple of days, the mache is hard as a rock.
Below are the labor intensive steps to add details to the hands. I used "paper clay" on top of the hardened "mulch mache". The clay is smoother, and easier to sculpt with. It's a little pricey for the amount you get...about $10 for a pound. I think I used perhaps 4 or 5 pounds of the paper clay. I'm guessing that the total price for supplies might have been around $100.
Next, I move on to the face. The eyes are made from two wooden balls I found at a hobby store. I began to build up details in stages. The paper clay shrinks as it dries, so there was a lot of time spent filling in spaces and cracks.
I then sculpted some "seaweed" for the border around the edge of the circle. I used the wet mulch and a spoon to make some basic shapes...almost like icing a cake. Once that was dry, I then used the paper clay to form the shapes of the individual leaves weaving in and out of each other.
The next phase was to attach the arm to the base, and continue with adding details. I think I made a couple of thousand little balls of paper clay to create the bumpy skin texture. That took a couple of days to cover everything. I eventually attached the hand to the arm and filled in the wrist area. Before adding the mulch as support around the wrist and shoulder, I used the PVC glue to hold the armature together.
Below is the final sculpture hanging on my studio wall. Next stop...the paint job!
Painting is probably my favorite part of these projects. As usual, I used acrylic paints, and built up colors with glazes of very wet washes, and also thicker dry brush techniques. I can use color and various values to enhance the sculptural forms. In the lower middle of the photos below, you can see that I had some little patches of white between the bumps. I used a syringe filled with black ink to squirt into the gaps.
Once I had everything painted to my liking, I coated the whole thing with a high gloss acrylic varnish. The details of the paint looked better before adding the varnish, but I wanted a "wet look" since the Creature is coming up out of the water.
Here is "Mr. Gillman" all finished and hanging on my studio wall!
This is how my triad of the "Terrors of the Deep" look all together!


Anonymous said...

Looks great to me! Maybe you should send the link to the guy who did the obviously think alike..ha! Or the guy who does fish..or they one and the same...sorry that is already jumbled in my brain! Mom

Anonymous said...

Looks great to me. Maybe you should send a link to the guy who did the portrait.

Jon F said...

Very nice work, Warren.

Tastyrecipe1 said...

That's awesome. I' currently looking for something like this for my tiki bar. They make a large wall mount for around 100 bucks with both arms about 36" wide but this idea is much more classy and practical. Do you make to order? I love the crab and the squid too.

Warren said...

Tastyrecipe...sorry. I do not, at this time, make these paper mache pieces to order. Truth is...the supplies alone cost me around $100 for each of them. I'd say you are getting a good deal on the one you saw for the wall mount. Each of my sculptures took many, many hours to create...the prices would be probably more than you'd want to pay.

Monty said...

But if you were to put a price on it how much? This is a gorgeous piece and I am an insane collector.

Warren Ludwig said...

Hello, Monty...thanks for your enthusiasm about this piece. Since this piece took me months to make, I haven't considered the price I might put on something like this. Since it's not for sale, and was created for my studio, as part of a trio, I'm afraid I don't have a number in my head. Thanks again for the complements. Just out of much would you be willing to pay?