Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bone Woman coming alive.

I've done some further work on my Bone Woman for the Puppet Challenge.  A few more layers of gesso, and a lot more sanding and I got to this stage, and decided it was as smooth as she's going to get.  I've cut the holes for the eyes/beads, so tried them out to see if my idea would work.  I'm pleased with it, as it is a simple solution to creating an eye that seems to move and follow, as the shiny beads catch the light.

I sat outside in the sunlight and found that a camping 'Billy' (the slightly upmarket version, with a spout) makes a very useful holding device for a puppet head with a stick in the back of its head...though I had to weigh the billy down with a large tin of dog food!

I quite liked the colour of the first coat, but decided it was darker than I really wanted, so worked back into it with white, then in the end I rubbed paint off as well, and was pleased with the result.  I think it looks like she has rubbed chalk into her face, as a base for the fairly extreme 'make-up', which would, I imagine, be ochre, red clay and soot.

Next, I began to paint in the features, using the small mask as inspiration.  I just painted, adding in (and occasionally taking away again) colour, shading, details, until I reached the point where she seemed to be telling me she was finished, and any more would be just too much.  At this point, she looked like some kind of demon from a zombie movie without her eyes in, but those two little brown beads made so much difference.  

With her eyes in place, she seems not just human, but somehow sad and kindly and wise too.

The next challenge was hair, and how to attach it.  I looked through my collection of wool and yarn, tried out bits of home-made string, feathers, fabric, and then quite by accident, found something that did the job perfectly.  A roll of garden tie purchased from a hardware a couple years back, made from strips of recycled/repurposed grey marl t-shirt fabric.  I'd already tried making 'string' from it, but the result was too thick, so I tore the strips into thinner strips and discovered that the ends frayed and shredded and curled up.  I used a wider strip of it to make a kind of headband/skullcap (with a hole in the back for the stick), and began sewing strips with shredded ends on.  I cut long strips, shredded both ends, then sewed the middle down where her natural part might be.  A few layers later, and some thinner braids/string made from red wool, a few beads, and I love it.  


I suspect she will end up being far too heavy to really work as a puppet (I've still got body, arms, hands, legs, feet and clothing to add, not to mention I'm toying with the idea of a tiny Shaman's frame drum), and all that weight has to be held and manipulated by the puppeteer using only one hand, while the other moves her hand/arm.  But, she's my first attempt, and I'm really enjoying how she is developing.

Apologies for the not-so-great photos, they were taken using my phone.

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