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Making of Frankenstein-part 9

Well, the show went ahead and all was well in the land of Frankenstein.  Two dress rehearsals and four performances later and we are done. Below are a couple of finished shots.


























































































Where the mic was taped on kind of followed the edge on the back which was handy, but being theatre edges were not a major issue. 
We all did a dress rehearsal together so everyone know the drill, and in the end it was applied in about five minutes with ten minutes painting and tickling time to get it sweet.

I had the delightful Kelly Marshall and Chamia Choudhury take care of the application for the show as I was unavailable for those evenings.  They did a great job, and I had an absolute blast making it. 

Now I want to do another one. 

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009

 

Making of Frankenstein-part 8

Now the mould is dry and hard enough, I have cast out the skins in latex.  I swill a layer or two, then build up a thickness of cotton wool and tissue in the areas which don't need to move, such as the top and back of the skull.

Once this is left somewhere warm such as an airing cupboard for two days, it has thoroughly dried throughout. I talc the inside to prevent it sticking to itself and there you have a latex skin.  I repeat the process twice again, so I have two for the show plus a spare so Jai can rehearse and get used to wearing it while I paint the other two in the workshop after the makeup test-oh the luxury!

































Now onto painting. The paints I will use are PAX paints (for an article on mixing and using them click here), as these will adhere well to the latex and be used on the skin when applying the makeup for the show.  I start with a base coloir on the two different skin areas, and the gradually build up layers of colour with washes of thinned pax.



































The brain and skull areas are pained with a pale pinky colour as a base, onto which I will gradually work darker reds and purples to make the shapes really pop out.




















Putting some nice blood reds into the deep cuts will create some contrast and make the incisions really stand out and look sore.
























Airbrushing on some FW acrylic inks using IPA as a solvent instread of water to (accelerate drying time) I build up layers of mottle and veins (sometimes affectionately known as 'tinkers tartan').  I also used blood colour inks and let them run from the cuts to get a natural weeping appearance.



































The brain and skull stand out quite nicely now. For the show, we'll stick a load of KY jelly and blood in places to make the brain look slick and shiny. Nice!



































And finally, from the front. It seems to have gone well. All we need now is a final test on a rehearsal.



































As soon as we've done it, it will be posted up here straight away!
Stay tuned.

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009

 

Making of Frankenstein-part 7

Now the mould has hardened overnight, it's time to crack it open. Using a huge screwdriver and persuading it with a nylon mallet I go for the seamline, and gradually the mould starts to open. Hurrah! Fingers crossed!












































I go around the back and front, gradually increasing the gap size until it freely comes away.














































Here are the two halves of the mould, and I'm pleased to say that everything is well. A quick clean up and I'm ready to bond these two halves together.


























































Even though the mould was made in two halves to get it off the head shape easily, I can effectively make this into a one piece mould by putting the two halves back together with clamps and adding 'clip wads' of plaster and scrim onto a few points of the chunky wall I built. When these have set, I can remove the cumbersome clamps and use it as a one piece mould.





























Here is a close up look of the seamline when the mould is closed up- I'm happy with that!



































Alright! So, now I pop this in a warm place to really dry out overnight, away from all moisture for a whole 24 hours. After this, I will run my first piece in latex.

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009


 

Making of Frankenstein-part 6

The mould will be made out of plaster, so in order to comfortably remove it from the head when it is finished, I need to make it in two halves.

I put a dividing clay wall on the top, and support the back with plaster and scrim (no bandage still) using clingfilm (ceran wrap) first to keep the other half of the sculpt nice and clean. I use thin strips of clay which bend easily over shapes, and then just wipe a small tool over the clay to get a nice smooth surface.




















































































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Because I want to make the mould in two halves, I make keys or 'joggles' in the clay using the handle of a screwdriver.  These will then help the two sides join in the correct position The screwdriver handle gives me a smooth, rounded indentation which will be reproduced in the plaster. I prefer these to 'hard edge' shaped keys, which can chip easily. There are tools for this (many made by mouldmakers themselves), but the result is the same.


































































And voila-the wall is ready and waxed with a little spray wax. Lets get busy with the first layer of plaster.
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This plaster (Crystacal R) has a good working time of about 15 minutes, so I mix up a batch (known as a 'gauge' of plaster), and then add plaster to water to get another gauge ready, but I don't mix it yet. I brush on a layer with the first mix (pic. 1), and keep slapping it on all over until I have a nice layer all over the sculpt and up to the edge of the clay wall (pic. 2).

Occasionally I wipe a plastic scraper or kidney over the edge to keep the edge clean-this is known as 'striking off' or striking the edge.

Pic.3 shows the jute scrim going on. I pre-soaked this so it does not rob any moisture from the plaster, and apply about four layers all over, smoothing down each with the second mix of plaster. I add the second mix before the first has had a chance to set, ensuring bestter adhesion as fresh plaster doesn't stick well to a dried plaster surface.

Pic 4. The finished half, with clean edges and chunky sides to accommodate clamps later, and reduce any distortion or warping of the mould. Not that likely on a mould this size and shape and not really that much of an issue if it did
, but old habits die hard


























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First up, I carefully peel off the supporting plaster behind the clay, taking the plastic film with it.






























The clay peels away from the plaster surface easily. Hurrah. This is fun, like peeling sunburn-I never tire of this.


































The cleaned up mould half, now ready for the other side. A quick squirt of wax to guarantee an easy parting later, and we are ready for the next side.


































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The second side is much the same-a first layer followed by a second with scrim. I decide to cover the tiny undercut caused by the eyelid with a little clay (arrowed), just to be safe. Plaster won't flex at all, so any undercuts will cause breaks somewhere, and I don't need that!
















































Below is the finished mould. I will leave this overnight, and then hopefully pop it open tomorrow when the plaster has hardened up nicely.





































You can just about make out the line diving the two halves, and the edges are nice and chunky, as they should be. Thin walls and edges will chip and crack during the demould process, which will involve big screwdrivers etc to lever it open.  The plaster surface is only about 20mm thick, so it should dry out relatively quickly. The scrim layers will help to ensure the mould is good and strong.  I have a good feeling about this but we'll see in the morning if this is misplaced faith.

Happy sticking

---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009

 

Making of Frankenstein-part 5

Now the sculpt is finished, it's time to make the mould. The head piece is a simple slip latex appliance so I need to use plaster for the mould. I am using a hard casting plaster called Crystacal R as it is a strong plaster to make moulds with but also absorbs the water from the latex well.

The first step is to ensure the bottom edge of the mould finishes in a nice neat line just under the edge of the sculpt.  In order to create this, I make a solid ground for a clay wall using bits of wood hot-glued together (I realised I had no plaster bandage-D'oh!)
















































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Once this was in place, I placed a layer of water based clay onto the wood, and carefully laid it up to the plaster surface, keeping below the finished edge of the sculpture just a fraction of an inch.




















































This now keeps the bottom edge of the mould neatly in line with the shape of the sculpt.  Next stop-the plaster.

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009


 

Making of Frankenstein-part 4

Now the sculpt is finished. The details have been hardened up-wrickles hardened up, moles and little imperfectione here and there, and the meaty softness contrasting with the hard, sharp lines cut into the skin and bone. I had to lop an ear off in order to mould the sculpt (sorry Jai. It was a clean break, and it'll glue back on). As the sculpt goes up tight to the back of the right ear (thats 'camera right'), to have the plaster ear there would just get in the way.

By maintaining contrast like that, I hope to create a dramatic effect that will be seen from a distance, as well as include enough little details to keep it looking good up close.  I will also paint a lot of detail too, and a lot more will be done with the colour and makeup.  Here's the sculpt all the way around.






























































































































































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I tried to make the surgery look clean and messy in different places, as if there was surgical precision mixed with frantic urgency on the part of Dr Frankenstein. Lets hope the mould goes as swimmingly! I'll be back!

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009


 

Making of Frankenstein-part 3

Thought it might be an idea to show you the (incredibly rough) design sketch. Being for stage, it needs to be effective from a distance.  Jai and I agreed to not go the Universal/Hammer flat-top route, and go for the 'man made up of men' look. 

There will be some additional stuff that will be done in makeup rather than appliances. This is because there will be a lot of singing and sweating on stage and unlike movies or TV I can't pop in for checkups in between takes. As a result I'm keeping the appliances to a minimum-and away from the mouth area.




















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Here I have refined the sculpt, smooted the shapes down and sharpened the details up. Being for stage, I won't go too much into the wrinkles and pore texture although it's too much fun to leave it out entirely. Old habits die hard!




 

























 

I love the blocking out stage, and it makes the refining so much easier. Using rough edged sculpting tools, coarse plastic brushes and scratchy green scotch cloth you can shave down the surface, gradually arriving at a smoother and smoother finish, ready for the details


I'll finish this sculpt completely by the weekend, and I'll get more into the detailing.


Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009


 

Making of Frankenstein-part 2

 

Finally managed to get stuck into the 'Stein. It's been such a busy couple of weeks with teaching and paperwork, and this head has been staring at me through the workshop window daring me to get on with it. At last I have.

The plaster has had plenty of time to dry nicely, and being Crystacal, its nice and hard, also a pain to have to shave down and clean up. Still, lets have a look at some shots of what's happened so far.

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The plaster cast is not too bad on the front-just a few air bubbles around the facial hair. The top two shots are the cast just as it was from opening the mould.   The dark clay slip used as a release from the plaster bandage is clearly visible, and stops right at the seamline which needs a little clean up.

The lower two shots are after two hours of work with surforms, rasps and rifflers.   I won't be remoulding this head, so I had to use a hard plaster to start with, which makes it more work than it usually would be to shave down.  


























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I like to sketch out a pencil outline to show the boundaries of the sculpt, and also plot the major scars and distortions which I have planned. This way, when it comes to adding the plastiline, I know just where to go and I can work quicker.













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The blocked out sculpt in plastiline, below. This is a grey plastiline which melts really well. I heated it in a pan, and painted on layers to cover the area really quickly using an old paintbrush. Doing this also made sure the plastiline sticks well to the surface of the cast.


As the plastiline cools and thickens, I can block out the rough shapes quickly while it is still soft enough. That way, I get the bulk of the shape done in an hour or so. I want the head to look like it is made up of two different heads, and one half will be oversized to suggest this-separated by a big, nasty stitched join in the skin.









Well, thats all I had time for today, but I'll have more to show soon. We're on a roll!

Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009


 

Making of Frankenstein-part 1

 

With the last workshop (15th, 16th &17th September) just finished, it's time to finally get on with the Frankenstein creature makeup for Stage One Theatre Company.  In my entire career, I never once got to do a Frankenstein makeup-so I leapt at the chance. 

It's low budget, but I really wanted to do it anyway- so thinking caps on. I shall keep you up to date here with progress sketches and sculpts.

Here are a few shots of the lifecast-many thanks to Kelly and Karl for their excellent assistance. It was a textbook cast, and everything was perfect. A great start to a fun project.  Thanks especially to Chamia too for taking the photos!














We used Nivea on the shaved head as a release agent, which is much nicer to remove than vaseline. I pack out behind the ear with bandage to help prevent the plaster ears from breaking so easily. 


I chose to do the back half in bandage which saves on alginate, and also because there is no detail I need on the back of the head. An added bonus means the face is covered for less time.  That funky band of bandage under the collarbone helps prevent the excess alginate from running down the suit so much.













When it's time for the alginate, I do the nose first.  I don't want to fiddle about with nostrils when everything else is covered, so I do this first and make sure I can get right into and around the nostrils while Jai can still see and hear whats going on.


Once thats out the way, we cover the face in about thirty seconds, working out from the nose. The bandage on the front half is kept just shy of the alginate front and plaster back join. This helps to get a sweet seam when we reassemble the mould to fill it with plaster.  The whole process took about twenty minutes.

The dark interior of the back half is clay and water mixed to create a thin paste called a 'slip'. This is an excellent, cheap and easily cleaned release between the plaster bandage and the plaster I will use to fill the mould.


















Once the plaster has set and cooled down enough, we pop the mould open.  Everything went fantastically, with only a few minor air bubbles to shave down on the cast. Once I have cleaned this up, I'll be sure to get some images up here! Stay tuned.


Happy sticking
---
Stuart

©Stuart Bray 2009



 

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