Friday, April 23, 2010

How I made my Spaceman Split

Since I haven't anything new to show you at the moment – the freelance stuff I've been working on isn't for public consumption yet — I thought I would do a little post on how I made my "Spaceman Split" bowling pin sculpture from a couple of months ago.
First, I had to clean off my work table. It had been a while, but was crucial to doing the project. Besides having a clear workspace, I did find my Queen's Greatest Hits cd's underneath all my crap.

Next, I took the old bowling pin that was provided by The Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah. It was a retired pin, with lots of dings and dents and a chunk of wood missing from the inside. I filled that hole with spray foam and the other dents with wood filler.

After letting the wood filler dry, I took a rough grit sandpaper (100) and knocked off all the excess from my sloppy filling job. Then, I took lighter grit sandpaper (220 and higher) to smooth it out. Then, I spray painted a couple coats of primer. Oh — and yes, those are vintage Star Wars curtains you see in the background. 

After the primer dried, I filled more dents that I missed the first time. The dark color of the primer helps show ones that weren't visible before. At this point I'm starting to wonder if it's worth filling in all the holes, but I know in the end — it'll be worth it. So I sand those again and give it one final coat of primer. Then I give it a couple coats of white.

Now it's starting to look like a brand new pin! Still, the gray primer is showing through the white, so all the white in the final piece will be painted using Liquitex Acrylic Paint.

While I was prepping the bowling pin, I was also trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with it. Normally, I would have done this first, but there was a short turn around time. So I decided that I wanted to do something retro and keep the shape of the pin without altering it. That way, I could go ahead and get it ready so when I decided what I was going to do with it, I could get to painting the image right away. 

Eventually I decided on a retro-ish space man smugly holding a ray gun but unsuspectingly standing on top of a large green alien about to attack him. The sketches above are the rough sketches that I did. As you can see, I decided the switch the arm holding the ray gun in the final sculpt.

After doing some color tests, I decided to go with a limited color scheme and keep it simple. It took 2-3 coats of paint to get the look I wanted. 

In between coats of paint, I sculpted the Spaceman's arms, hands and ray gun. I used Sculpey baking clay and pieces of a coat hanger for armature. The barrel of the ray gun is a small nail. Oh, and before I got too far along in the painting process, I drilled holes on where I wanted the wire from the arms to go. For the alien's tentacles, I used wire for the basic shape, wrapped them in tin foil until I got the desired thickness and then finished it off with a layer of Sculpey. I'd love to show you what that looked like, but I forgot to take pictures.

The alien's face is beginning to take shape. Later when I painted the face of the Spaceman, I noticed that when I was done …

… it looked like John Locke from Lost!!! This was completely accidental. Maybe subconsciously I did it on purpose. Anyway I kept it. It's Locke in Space.
Once I was done painting, I glued on the arms and gave him a coat of sealer. Here's the finished product below:

I had a great time working on this for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Utah auction and am really looking forward to doing it again next year!