Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How it's done....

As a rule, I dislike showing unfinished works of art to anyone other than very close friends. And sometimes not even to them. When I do show unfinished work, I seem to get so many suggestions on how to finish it, that I lose sight of what the original idea was. However, I am going to make an exception and explain it all. The Halloween figures are created by sculpting a head and shoulders which is attached to a wood armature and then the body is created in a kind of unusual way. Papier mache translated from the French means "chewed paper" and that is pretty much what it is...bits of paper soaked in glue, placed on a form and allowed to dry to a hard finish. It can then be painted. My background is in costuming and that involves fabrics. I love the textile arts. So instead of using bits of paper soaked  in glue, I use bits of fabric soaked in glue. The glue that I use is a product called Stiffey. Don't you just love it? I also have boxes and boxes of fabric scraps. I  like using fabrics because they have color and texture which can be selectively placed to create highlights, shadows, and textures. Sometimes after I have created the figure I will go back in with acrylic paint and add a different color or highlight or darken a color. This technique  was used on the earlier ghosts and on Edgar Alan Poe.
I think you can see on the ghost where shredded fabrics have been scrunched and glued down with bits of torn lace and hints of color worked in.  Poe also has different fabrics collaged together and then overpainted.

I am now doing some figures with a slightly different technigue. Instead of gluing fabrics down, I am going to sew the collage onto a base fabric with lots of free motion embroidery. I really love free motion embroidery.

So here is the first photo of a new ghost. The head has been painted, but will probably have a fine tune on the paint job later. The body has been sculpted into the final shape and I have started draping a costume in dupioni silk. This is just a basic draping technigue of putting fabric on a mannegquin or form and playing with it, pinning it down, seeing how it looks, and then perhaps moving the fabric around some more and repinning. I have cut sort of a giant half circle, pinned it on the form and began pinning in folds as I think they will look nice. I know for sure that I want the costume to flow from her right shoulder, spiraling around her body to the left back. Now it is time to start hacking up different fabrics and begin placing them on this background to create a nice texture and flow of the garment. She will have a veil over her head, but that comes last.

Lots of in progress shots to follow.


  1. Thank you for sharing Charles. Its nice to see another artists creative journey. I am looking foward to seeing your new creation finished.

    Debie xxx