Saturday, March 24, 2012

Passing silhouettes of strange illuminated mannequins

It's a bust!
Male, albeit, but it's a bust.

I made my own bust using a technique based on this thing:
Today is the last day to enter the contest described therein and I am so pleased because I would have created something and entered and spent way too much time I don't actually have right now. I'm a sucker for contests of skill and strength. I like to win, but I also like the idea of how creating or doing something within the confines of externallly imposed parameters and rules. It sounds counterintuitive because my normal creative process involves a lot of experimentation and breaking of rules. But having imposed boundaries helps me to get around them somehow and always offers up new ideas and opportunities.

Does it look less quarterback like here? Less lumberjack?

My son was my model. It sounds so quaint, doesn't it? Because for whatever most people always think I'm like 24 years old and my son is a tot. Not so. I'm 44 and he's almost 18 and is a strapping 6ft.+ alphamale body. So it's a little ridiculous to think I could use the full form of this particular bust indefinitely, because it is obviously male, but it was an experiment. I didn't even have saran wrap on hand, which is part of the instructions for making the cast--you apply it to whatever surface so the tape doesn't stick horribly. I just put the tape on his bare skin and it didn't hurt too bad. But for reasons I won't go into because it's kind of gross, you MUST use the saran wrap if you try this. Seriously.

The fragmentation of a chopped off head bothers me a bit, so I thought of compensating with something on top of the neck. Didn't work. I still go into the first stages of shock a little bit when I think about some dreadful sights I saw in anatomy lab. If you've taken anatomy lab, this will make sense to you. 'Nuff said.

The entire process took only about 45 minutes. It's actually pretty revolutionary. And BEYOND EASY. The tape is a ridiculously manipulable medium and very forgiving. You don't have to be anal about the wrapping or placement technique because it all binds together naturally. I barely watched the technique video but one tip I would share, if it isn't included, is to spend some time 'burnishing' the tape down while it's on the model to get it all as stuck together and flat as possible. Luckily I foresaw that.

I have been wanting to make my own bust for some time. I thought of duct tape because I remember an artist friend of a friend using it a couple decades ago for some sculpture in a class, and the end result was nothing short of amazing. But I never considered using clear packing tape. I say 'clear packing tape' vs. Scotch tape as promoted in the link and tutorial videos, because of course you can just use any clear packing tape. I buy mine at the dollar store and wal mart and have over the years tried many generic brands because I use it constantly to ship packages between amazon and now Etsy, and there really is a difference in quality. I wish I could remember the names of the crap to avoid because it is dreadful. But Mr. Frosty from the dollar store is good and the generic or no name brand from wal mart is good too.

The site says that the scotch tape is much stronger and the videos do seem to be using less than I did (which would translate into a thinner, more even surface) so I may lose my morals and buy a name brand tomorrow when I make another cast from my (female) friend who has agreed to serve as model.

Tee hee! Neither did this. But I was getting silly.

Alas, the finished and clear cast was not attractive. Not at all. So I decoupaged it with some off white, sparsely-glittered tissue paper. Does it look like creepy peeling skin? Should I use something alongside it (like bits of something with a floral pattern or text that brings more attention to the decoupaging, vs. trying to make it look like skin?)

One of the coolest things about this technique in general (especially with the tissue paper decoupage) is how translucent it is. It's also SUPER sturdy and structurally sound. My idea now is to make lamps with it--giant pod shapes or something. String lights would look so cool inside of it. Depending on how it goes, I may end up using an interally lit kind of thing to illuminate it weirdly for my necklace displays.

This is how it looks inside. That's all clear packing tape, sticky side out.

So of course my mind was racing crazy thinking about all the things I can do with this technique. In addition to the lamp idea, I also thought of beads. I made one as a tester, and it came out lovely. I used one of my round polymer beads as a model--probably about a 18mm size. It took a relative larger amount of tape than the bust for some reason, at least until I was satisfied with its smoothness and strength. It seems pretty difficult to get a specific shape using a small model, but I like the organic nugget form so I didn't try too hard to keep to a shape. I just wanted to see how it worked with the process. The result is a featherweight, sturdy, hollow bead. I used the exact same technique on the bead as the bust. Tape, cut, retape, decoupage. I made the bead holes using a needle but they kind of disappeared like they might in fabric, so I used the bead reamer to get them more defined. I'll be making some more and also altering the surface with paint and who knows what.

The packing tape bead.


  1. Mind-blowing technique! Whoda thunk sticky tape was a creative medium. Can see me making some display busts.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. how cool! love the doggie head and the hand and the whole thing/idea/creativeness. lovely jewelry to boot. xoxo

  3. Aren't you clever. I've got an old beaten up dress makers dummy I use but I really should update it but I just dread the thought of decoupaging the whole thing - Kate xx

  4. I desperately need a bust or something for some of my pieces that really need a "naked" canvas. You rock! My beads came in from the Dollar bead place. They are so cool, too. Some didn't come, but they refunded me the money, so I wasn't surprised. I love those yellow foil ones!