Friday, April 8, 2011

A Pound of Flesh

Or clay. Having seen such awesome sculpts from such artists as Dead Spider, Lauriebeast, and Terra (what's up with women having an excess of kickass sculpting skills?), I thought I'd try my hand at sculpting the head of my new prop I'm building, my yard display's gravedigger. Every cemetery needs someone to dig the graves and I've had to do the work up till now. So I'm hiring someone to take over for me.

My original inspiration was Spider's Hemlock Densch, but I've seen quite a few characters now that have me casting about for my own character. I don't typically name my props as some do, but when he filled out his application for the gravedigger job, he wrote in Madog of the Dead so I guess I have to call him that.

My goal is to slowly turn my yard display into a Medieval church walk-thru. It's a multi-year project, if for no other reason that I work slow despite having tons of ideas. I like reading about other haunter's projects almost as much as I enjoy building my own so I find ways to waste enormous amounts of time.

Madog, by the way, was a Welsh prince said to have sailed to North America in 1170, thus predating Columbus's own journey by 300 years. There's actually a long tradition of "Welsh Indians," and some structures and ruins that were found in the New World and dated to well before the white man was known to have arrived, are attributed to them. I think there was a History Channel program about them. Maybe it was the SciFi channel (nope, still won't call it the SyFy channel).

For my purposes, Madog was also a riverman in the Brother Cadfael mystery series by Ellis Peters (like Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, Derek Jacobi is Cadfael in my head. Okay, Basil Rathbone could work as Holmes -- I liked his hard-drinking, chain-smoking style, but Robert Downey Jr. was just God awful!). Madog's job was to fish the dead out of the River Severen whenever someone fell in and drowned. Since I don't have a river in my yard -- and don't plan on digging out a channel for one (even for Halloween!) anytime soon -- Madog will have to be a gravedigger.

The difference between what I'm creating and what others have done before -- aside from their creations being awesome and mine likely sucking -- is that I actually won't be using modeling clay or similar media. I'm going to try and use a homemade paper clay recipe, the shredded newspaper used for blown insulation popularized by Stolloween.

I've been slowly adopting that to different skulls I've been creating to make certain features more prominent,  and figure I'd like to go a step further and see if I have any skill to use it for an actual sculpt. One of the challenges I've found previously, however, is the pulp clay I've been using thus far had a lumpy texture to it so I'm going to have to smooth out the mixture a lot more before it will be ready to use for features. Should be fun, though.

Now, you may be thinking  I have some form of ADD since my last post was about building entrance columns to my cemetery, and since it took me a little while to make two sides before I stopped and I haven't posted any update pictures since, the likelihood of them being finished is pretty slim. Well you'd be right (about them not being finished, anyway). Perhaps it is an attention deficit I suffer from, but also a groundswell of laziness too. I just don't feel like running to the Home Depot at the moment to buy the wood I need to complete the job. So why not start a new project?!

Having a couple of projects going at the same time though saves me from getting too bored with any one. But tomorrow I will be making the Depot run. Since I'll also be needing to buy lumber to finish my basement (see, not just laziness or ADD), throwing an extra board or two on the lumber cart for the columns will save me from making a special trip. Now whether I add a couple of lengths of PVC for Madog's body I haven't yet decided, because I might just craft that out of lumber too.

So far I've made my paper mache head that I'll use as a base and will be fiddling with the clay mixture today to begin the sculpt. I'll post some pictures when I have anything of substance to shop. That way I'll have a portfolio full of half-started projects but none completed!


  1. Don't worry, I usually have about 10 projects going at once that eventually seem to get finished. Good luck with your new project.

  2. Thanks, GfID, good to know! Perhaps I'm hoping that by having a bunch of things started I'll force myself to get the stuff done I want to.



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