Thursday, June 24, 2010


I forgot to mention something yesterday that I thought might be important. If you use Golden Fluid Acrylic paint in an airbrush, you must thin it down so as not to clog up your airbrush. I use Airbrush Medium which is one of the many Golden Mediums. It works really well. And the joy of this medium is that when you spray color on fabric there is no heat setting to do.

I also forgot to include a snapshot of Catrina's boyfriend, Fernando.

And if you are wondering why the ghost How To is going so slowly, I will mention that I am working on seven other figures at the same time. So stayed tuned for more goodies.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Change of Heart/Mind

Originally I was going to use the "sew" method on this figure, but I decided to use the "glue" method instead. Why the change of mind? I am not sure, except that when I went into the studio and saw the ghost standing there with all of her base fabric pinned in place, I just couldn't resist the urge to open the bottle of Stiffy and just glue everything down and be done with it.

This photo is of Steps #2 and #3. This is a closeup of the stiffened fabric which is Step #2. For Step #3, I got out my wonderful and fun airbrush and sprayed color into the folds and a few other parts. I know that you are saying, "Wow. She sure is blue." But this is an underpainting, so to speak, for the final effect. Bits of fabric in varying degrees of transparency with be layered over this paint and it will be much more subtle in the finished figure. You do not need an airbrush to achieve this same effect. I just find it much more fun and a bit faster than doing it with a brush, which I had done for many years. The airbrush is a new toy for me and I am loving it. The paint I use is Golden Fluid Acrylics. This line of acrylic paint is fantastic. It comes in bottles and is about the consistency of heavy cream. One of the joys of using it is that you can just put one drop of paint on your palette or keep adding drops until you have just the exact amount of paint that is needed for that project. I think this is a great improvement over tube paint. I would always squirt out way more paint than I needed, thus wasting paint and money. Even though the Golden paint is thinner it has a very high concentration of pigment...a little goes a long way.

Off to the studio...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Solstice

One of my favorite days of the year. I am afraid that I am a creature of the night, actually meaning that I love to get up late and and go to bed very late. And this day celebrates the longest day of the year, meaning that I have lots of sunlight until very late in the evening to work in my studio. I can work under artificial light, but sunlight is just so much better. (Actually, with my last name I would qualify as one of the Count's "children of the night". I really love the way Bela Lugosi says this.)

I thought I would post a couple of photos of other figures that have either used the cut-up-fabric-and-glue-it-together method or cut-up-fabric-and-stitch-it-together method.

The Ghost Puppet is the stitch method. This figure is a rod puppet. Her head and right arm can be moved in very intricate ways. So a lot of the bits of fabric on this figure were left free to float in the breeze. By the way, this is the same puppet that made it to the movies and I keep hoping to post those movies someday on this blog. LOL. The Old King is an example of the cut and glue method.
I have been a bit under the weather, again (yikes), but I hope to have more photos of the previous ghost in progress soon.

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.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back again...

The light has now dawned on me that I may not be the blogger who can post interesting and wonderful things on a daily or even weekly basis. I have been under the weather quite a bit lately. I live in San Francisco where the weather is totally unrelated to anywhere else in the world. Until today, we have been mostly in the grips of winter. Yes, I know it is June but the storms coming in off the Pacific Ocean don't know that. I have RA and when the weather is cold and damp I don't move around very fast and I am not able to work in my studio as much as I would like. So for the last month or so, I have been taking every opportunity of good health to work in my studio to get stuff made for Halloween and Vine which just seems to get closer and closer, but is actually Sept. 25 this year.

I now have a good group of figures going for the show. My favorite of the moment is Catrina. She was inspired by the Day of the Dead figures from Mexico. I have loved these figures for many, many years, but I didn't want to copy them. So it has taken quite a while to come up with this figure, which I think has my own personal slant on the subject of costumed skeletons. I now have three more of these figures in the works: two ladies and one gentleman. I am having a ball. I do have one problem concerning the name Catrina. All of these female figures are called Catrina, after one of the women portrayed by Posada in his original etchings. (See Jose Guadalupe Posada in Wikipedia or Google.) The figures in general, including the men, are called Calaveras or Skulls. Maybe this gal can keep her name of Catrina, but I will have to find different and appropriate names for the others.