Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Rat is Ready!

Last post I promised many things. The Clockwork Rat was amongst them, so here he is!

As a small reward for actually bothering to read my blog, I'm letting you see the rat before he is uploaded anywhere else. Take that, Etsy and DeviantArt! Also, as I get to be more long-winded here, I will explain him in greater detail than I would have the opportunity to, elsewhere. Also, for those more impatient than I, news about new projects is at the bottom of this post.

The rat is about six and a half inches tall, and is the first sculpture I've attempted that uses so many different techniques and materials. He has some paper mache, some polymer clay, some brass piping, some watch parts, an antique key, some screws, some glass, and some two-part epoxy. Hopefully, I blended the different parts in such a way as to not be 100% clear as to where one material ends and another begins.

The rat's head is mostly polymer clay, as are his paws, the front of his feet and his heels, and most of his upper arms, upper legs, and chest. His legs and arms are connected to the body with glue and a two part sculpting epoxy, "milliput". There are brass pipes in his arms and legs, and one acting as his neck.

The glass gauge in his chest is a glass pebble that is flat on one side. I painted the gauge directly onto the back of the pebble, then wrapped it in polymer clay. The winding mechanism in his back is an antique key that I sunk into the clay and glued into place. No, it doesn't turn, and he doesn't actually work (though, that'd be really cool, and I'd be a toy-maker, not a sculptor if I were able to do that!) The sphere that makes up the rat's belly and hips is paper mache, and has some milliput and brass added here and there for effect. The tail was made of a brass pipe and some brass wire.

The rat's surface was covered in wax based brass (rub-n-buff), some 'antique copper' mica powder, some silver and gold acrylic paint, and given a wash in green, black, and brown acrylic paints. He was then sealed with acrylic sealer.

The rat is definitely not as elegant and classy as some steampunk stuff, but I've found that I like the grungy side of steampunk quite a bit.

Now for some real news: I'm trying to move my jewelry making skills to the next level, so I've taken to doing some wrapped wire things. I've also ordered a ring mandrel, so I will be able to add rings (made of actual metal!) to my jewelry. Also, the cloth and clay dolls group that I belong to started their next challenge, which is Birds, so I am now working on a bird art-doll as well! The ducky and the ostrich will be less lonely now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

How I made my Steampunk Pistol!

Tada! I promised this, last week, and now I deliver! It's my steampunk pistol! Yay!!!

Okay, let me just say first and foremost, it's not the coolest steampunk pistol ever. I know that. It is the coolest steampunk pistol I've ever made, though. I really wish now that I had taken pictures of the process along the way. I'd love to show you exactly how this started out.

I'm going to describe how I made it, and I think that may just help enough for if you are wanting to make your own.

1) the 'handle': That's right, I don't know the proper name for that part of a gun! Hehe. Anyway, I can tell you what it is. It's Cardboard! Four layers of cardboard, I think. I took cardboard and cut out the handle several times, then glued them all together with wood glue. I cut them both with the 'grain' of the cardboard, and against the 'grain' so that they'd be stronger together.

2) the barrel: It's a piece of pvc pipe. The little end cap on the back of the barrel is just a little cap I found that would fit on the end. I think it was from a bottle or something, but I'm not sure what.

3) That red thingie on the front of the gun: That's the only piece that may have some 'specialty' parts to it. It's a short piece of PVC pipe with a couple of domes glued to either end. The domes are something to do with model railroading, but I got them so long ago that I'm not sure what they are actually for. Anyway, they covered the ends of the pipe so perfectly that I glued them in place with Gorilla Glue....which is great stuff.

4) the trigger: I found a brass plated ring in my studio amidst all the clutter and junk *way too much clutter and junk. I took this little ring, clamped it, and cut it in half with my Dremel's cut-off wheel. Then I took one of the grinders for the Dremel and rounded the end of the 'trigger'. It's stuck in the cardboard of the gun with Gorilla Glue!

5) All the extra stuff: The body of the gun is cardboard, no lie...but there's a few widgits here and there to look 'cool'. The front of the body has a plastic piece screwed on that's from the end of set of blinds. The key sticking out of the side of the gun is just an old key that I glued in place. the sight on the gun is the foot from something like an 'easy stitch' hand sewing machine (which is the best use for that piece of junk ever). And there are undoubtedly a few bits of plastic here or there on gun.

Most of the 'extra stuff' is plumber's epoxy. It's a two part compound that you mix up and then smash into shape. It dries hard as a rock. I did that to hide all the cardboard texture and add some strength. I used both the kind that Billy Mays sold, and Milliput. I'm sure there's a billion more brands out there and they probably all work about the same. I will say that the Mighty Putty hardened a LOT faster than the Milliput, though. If you want to be all artistic and sculpt with the stuff, I suggest the Milliput. If you are just filling in holes, the Mighty Putty is cheaper and faster.

The red thing on the front was painted with glossy acrylic paints. The 'brass' parts of the gun were spray painted black then coated in brass 'rub 'n' buff' stuff. and the green patina in places on that is just green acrylic paint.

Hope that you found this entertaining or helpful or interesting or all three. If you made your own steampunk pistol, I'd love to see it, so send me a picture!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Coming Soon!

Yesterday was a waste for me, at least creatively. I got some cleaning done, and I watched a few tutorials, but I didn't really advance on anything I was working on, except the infamous steampunk gas mask. I am getting close to finished on several of the projects, so here's a quick update of what you all will be seeing soon.

1) Steampunk Gas Mask: Yes, I've been promising this one for a while. It's just going slow. The lenses for the 'goggles' portion of the mask are going in today. The 'goggles' got glued in yesterday, and are nice and snug now. I also finished cutting down the 'helmet' part yesterday, so it's ready for some smoothing and a little decoration.

2) Clockwork Rat: This has been my secret project, but I'm gluing his last leg into place today! He's been tough, because his legs have to be fixed to him one-a-day. Same thing for his head, and some of the odds and ends on him. He has a little sculpting work left on him, and some painting and finishing, then he'll be good to go! He's exciting for me, because he has some actual brass sheeting here and there on him for added realism. I've had nothing but problems with brass sheeting until this project, so yay!

3) Clockwork Revolver: The steampunk pistol that was meant as the precursor to my gas mask is almost done. It just has to get it's final finish, and I need to attach the grips on the sides of the handle. It's not the most impressive pistol, but when I show it, I'll give a part by part breakdown. I'm happy with it, thus far!

4) Steampunk Jewelry: The astute of you may have already seen a couple of these pieces (hint: they're on that etsy 'visit my shop' thingie). More were made, so more are on the way.

5) Chang and Eng Drawing: I think I already mentioned this drawing. It's of the 'Original Siamese Twins'. I need to get it matted, then it will be up for sale.

6) Sheep Art Doll: Started this one late last night. We'll see how it goes!

As you can all see, there'll be um... more to see later. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weather makes mans head explode

Every time it becomes a little overcast here, or God forbid, it begins to rain, I get a headache. Not a little uncomfortable pain, either. I get this excruciating, devistateing, soulless damnable pain that can completely incompasitate me. When this happens, and it happens a lot, I am not content to suffer in silence. It makes me evil. It's happening as I write this, by the way, and is my inspiration for sharing.

I looked up my problems with the weather changing causing me to suffer, and guess what? I'm not alone. Apparently I'm a 'human barometer'. Yay me. 'Weather changes cause changes in air pressure which can cause sinus pain'....no crap. I knew that. I was looking for treatments though.

...And, we found the treatments! Wait a minute, they are the same as they are for any sinus headache, which means I've tried them all and they've all failed. That sucks. Looks like I'm going to be resorting to surgery soon.

As for the suffering in silence, I think part of that is human nature...but a bigger part of it is my own low tolerance for 'stupid'. Stupid pisses me off. Stupid makes me angry. Stupid makes me want to choke something. Add pain to this mix, and stupid goes from an annoyance that I can barely tolerate to an annoyance that I want to beat with a shovel. Being perfectly alone, you might think that right now there's nothing stupid to bother me, but you'd be wrong. You see, I have Television and the Internet, and both seem to be overflowing with stupid.

Okay, I'm going to wrap this up. The long and the short of what I'm saying is that if a storm rolling in causes you a terrible headache, I feel your pain. There is treatment out there, but it mostly looks like the same crap we've all had before. Oh, and if you are stupid and there's bad weather afoot, stay clear of me...for both our sakes.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How to make your Old art New

This is actually sort of a few tricks more than a 'how to', but it is all stuff that works well for me.

I keep every sketch book I fill up. Every one. Some of them date back years and years (and are quite embarrassing to actually look at). When I'm feeling out of inspiration, instead of turning to ripping off other artists (face it, when an artist 'inspires' us, we're kind of ripping them off), or turning on the TV and turning off my creativity, I revisit those old sketch books.

Revisiting the old sketch books and projects helps from another level other than being a source of inspiration. Something I did ten years ago may still be valid as an idea, even if, as an artist, I'd NEVER let anyone see the original piece, now. All that remains is to rework the original. Take that old bad drawing and redo it with all your newly refined skills. It's also nice to look back once in a while and see that you've actually improved. Nobody else is going to point it out to you, so you may as well do it yourself.

In looking back at some of my OLD work, I've noticed that I have always loved Steampunk, even when I didn't know what it was. I also had some interesting directions that I wanted to take it in, apparently. This has been a huge help to me with some of my newer works...particularly some jewelry that I've been working on, lately...which brings us to the second part.

I drift as an artist, from medium to medium. I'm not content to sit forever with just a pencil, so I moved to ink. Ink was fine, but soon I was doing watercolors, then acrylics, then sculpting with polymer clay, then sculpting with paper mache, then back to polymer clay, but adding paper mache, then adding wire and brass bits and 'found objects'. It's an ongoing process. When you are revisiting your old work and you find a theme or idea that you like, feel free to try it in a new medium. A painting that you did fifteen years ago may just suck. A sculpture based on the painting may be very cool, though. I've done this a few times with my work, and it's always been fun, if not completely successful in becoming a WORK OF ART (in all caps, like that....that's what we're striving for. The one piece that will catapult us from obscurity to wealth and riches and fame).

I've been sticking to talking about traditional art methods, but if that's not your thing, don't feel limited. I used to do quite a bit of design work, and you'd be amazed at how easy it is to sneak in some of you old art into a new design piece. Old pencil drawings made great backgrounds for new clean and crisp designs, or photos of sculptures can be relentlessly plundered for textures....it's all up to you, and you get the wonderful feeling of accomplishing something that is completely your own style, once you are done. Any outside influences were years ago, and safely lost in time.

Even if you look at your old stuff and don't really feel like reworking any of it, at least you will be able to see your own improvements, and it will definitely get your creativity moving again. You may see this old 'junk' and suddenly be full of new ideas completely unrelated to what your eyes are on. Trust me on this.

Thank you for taking the time to read my mini artists rant, I hope that it helps at least one or two people out there, and I promise to get back to scary stuff soon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Advanced Apology Regarding The Morrow

If you own a TV or play video games, you probably know that tomorrow is the U.S. release of Final Fantasy XIII. I'm on the preorder list for this bad boy, so tomorrow, I'm not going to be around much on the internets. I've got some Chocobos to catch and Summons to perform and uh, bad guys to shoot or magic or stab or something.

If one of the most highly anticipated video games ever isn't enough, I also have a concert to attend tomorrow night! Yay!

They Might Be Giants are playing at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC tomorrow, and I gots some tickets! That alone is exciting for me, but it gets better. Jonathan Coulton is opening for them! Woot! If you don't know the music of which I speak, I do suggest giving their sites a visit. It'll open your eyes to the world in which I live. Mwhahahaha! Okay, not so bad, but ya know.

It's all very exciting, as you can tell, but it means I'm gonna be busy, and not with cool art stuff. To make it up to you, I shall tell you what I've been working on lately. For the last few days, I've been making some polymer clay jewelry. It's all either kind of magical looking or kind of steampunk looking. I'm not 100% happy with the results yet, but I'll post pictures as soon as I am!

Until next time, be good...or whatever you usually do.

Friday, March 5, 2010

bARTer Sauce!!!

I just became the 'featured trade' on bARTerSauce!!! It was very fun, and I got a cool cyborg donkey and an 'unwearable' necklace out of the deal!

It's a pretty sweet site, all in all, even if not all of it is work safe. If you have interesting art to trade, I say go for it! Very cool place.

Oh, and that bearded monster in the picture ...that's me. See why I wear a gas mask?

Whe you go to bARTer Sauce, check out the fact that a short story is sent with each thing, and random interview questions...it's all really interesting, and besides, you get to see cool stuff.

I'm not telling you what I traded to get my stuff...if you want to know you have to go there and check it out, yourself!

Why does the business side of business suck?

I'm an artist because I enjoy creating. I'm trying to sell my work because just creating doesn't pay the bills. Selling sucks.

It's a big dilemma for me. I enjoy making art, but I don't enjoy photographing it. I don't enjoy listing the pieces for sale. I don't enjoy Tweeting, or Facebooking about my work (Oddly, I do enjoy blogging about it, though...strange huh?). As for presentation, I'm more than willing to make a work of art, but if it's flat, and I need to mat it first, I tend to stall, and stall, and stall, a lot. I've worked in a couple of different places in advertising, but when it comes to advertising my own stuff, I kind of suck at it.

It gets worse. I don't like keeping up with my receipts, I don't like doing cost analysis on my art, heck, I don't even like trying to figure out how much time I've put into a piece, because I forget to look at the clock when I'm starting something.

As for spreadsheets to keep up with all this stuff, I'm completely lost. I take one look at a spreadsheet program, and my eyes tend to gloss over. It's boring. The money side of the business, in general, just keeps me baffled. I suppose that I'm a traditional artist in that respect, or at least, I live up to the stereotype.

Oh, I'm also disorganized. Did I mention that? It doesn't help with anything. Last night, I spent over an hour looking for a bottle of glue that had fallen from where I put it (which is NOT where it belonged, in the first place). Add disorganization to all my other business problems, and it seems hopeless. But I don't think it is hopeless.

I'm not writing this to fish for advice, or to offer some magic solution at the end of the post which will fix all of these problems. It's not a plug for some system or business class, it's just the obstacles that I face in running my business. I'm sure that I'm not alone, and I think that there's bound to be other people out there who feel the way I do, too. It would be nice if I read in other people's blogs that they have the same problems I do, so...maybe me writing this out will help someone else. Also, now that it's all typed up on the screen, I can't keep ignoring it.

That's it for today's post. Time to start cleaning (again), work on putting things where they belong, and get cracking on business stuff.

Also, I've got a brain candle that needs photographed so that I can list it! Hehe. Thought you were going to get away without reading something creepy, didn't you? Ha!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Steampunk and why I care

So, like most con goers, I've succumbed to the steampunk bug. It has a special place in my heart as it's related to the time-period when we could see babies in jars at a side show, and wear cool bowler hats, and have awesome mustaches. It also uses a lot of brass, and I'm just tacky enough to love brass.

I've got a problem though...I REALLY want to make steampunk stuff, but I feel kind of lost with it. I can barely sew, and I'm not that great at just taking random parts and making them into something cool. I'm especially not good at taking random MACHINE parts and making them look good. I'm trying though.

In the works, currently, are a steampunk gas mask, a steampunk pistol and I'm getting brave, so I cut out the pattern for a corset today (not for me, don't worry)...which I will make steampunk.
The mask is fairly flying together, which is funny, because I started the pistol to cut my teeth on the genre before attempting the gas mask....the pistol is going somewhat slower, though.

Sadly, I've had to say goodbye to my Darth Vader helmet, as it's the basis for the gas mask. I don't think Lord Vader will mind me using his helmet for such a noble cause, though. I also ruined a candle holder/lamp thingie that I've had for a while to get at the round pieces of glass on it for the lenses on the gas mask, and I murdered a fake leather portfolio to make the mouth piece. I think it's coming along, though. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I hate photography

The title says it all. Well, not really, but I don't like taking pictures of my stuff for the shop. There's so much set-up involved, and if you're like me, there's never a clean flat surface available to take the photos on. Also, in my high tech 1935 house, there's only a handful of outlets available, so finding a clean flat surface near enough to a power supply for my lights is even harder. This blog is forcing me to take more photos, though...and honestly, it's good practice.

Okay, now for the real reason I'm blogging about this. I have to take photos today. Grrr! I don't want to, I'm lazy, I don't feel like taking photos, and I always feel a little nervous about listing my things for sale...which means I'm stalling. The blog gets attention, because I am putting off the pictures.

I'm sure that everyone who runs a business, be it a little shop on etsy or a gigantic deforestation corporation, has some part of the business that they don't like to do, too, though. Eh well. If I'm ever to get rich and famous, I gotta do it. Feh.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Back from ShevaCon

So, I opened up the con season this year with ShevaCon, which I had never been to before. It's smaller, but ran well. It was fun getting back into the groove. Last year I went to NO cons at all. This was a first for me at a con, in that it's the first time I wore a costume to a convention! Yay! I got my picture took a few times, so that's cool, yes? It's inspiring me to do costuming...and maybe sell costuming at some later point.

Of interest, while there, I learned about the Mandalorian Mercs group, as seen in the bad phone picture here. They are a costuming club dedicated to Mandalorian Armor. They seem to be much freer about what goes and what doesn't go than say the 501st....which makes them intriguing to me. I can make a costume that looks "Star Warsy" much easier than I can make a screen accurate Storm Trooper.

I also got to see Charles E. Cullen, who amazes me, now. He lives in Roanoke, and I'm not going to attempt to describe what he does, other than to say he makes movies, has a TV show (in Roanoke) and sings. Any attempt to define him more narrowly than that would be impossible for me. I strongly suggest everyone check him out. Oh, and in seeing Charles Cullen, I also got an autographed copy of "Night of the Bums"! Woohoo!