Monthly Archives: January 2011

Getting Nailed

I have a fair number of very interesting mold making projects on the go right now as I’ve just gotten my hands on a pile of new polymers, but in the mean time let me share with you how my bordering on obsessive-compulsive self-portrait is going. I spent yesterday and this morning screwing in about five hundred brass wood screws (the parts cost on this project is higher than I’d anticipated) and following that up with about a thousand nails — I’m estimating that there are about eight thousand in the entire project. I’m very happy with how it’s turning out and the effort is definitely worth it. I’d love to do a piece like this on commission and I may try and pitch a hardware store chain on doing it as an advertisement. I am not too proud to take corporate sponsorship and am happy to have Rona or Home Depot be my Medici family.

On one hand the whole thing is a little mind numbing but at the same time it has a certain zen relaxation to it as well that I appreciate and take my mind off the pain.

Conversations with a seven year old

Some surprisingly age-inappropriate, in a good way, comments from the last couple days.

Shannon: So, would you say that I’m the best dad around?
Nefarious: There is a much better version of you elsewhere in the multiverse.

Shannon: Is Justin Bieber the most famous person you can think of?
Nefarious: He’s not famous at all. He’s no Bob Marley!

Oh why am I still up this late? I have to get up early to go to the hospital and staying up past my bedtime to Photoshop-doodle pictures of some Tuff Gong multiverse should not be so high on my list of realities to realize… Nefarious is quite fond of the multiverse right now because we’ve been talking about the nature of reality and seems quite enamored with the idea that all things are not only possible, but present. As to our Jamaican friend, that’s something she got into after exploring my record collection on her Mp3 player.

More plastic casting with Composimold

Among other things, today I made some doll parts for a pug-sort-of-creature toy that I’m making, and used some “leftover” plastic from casting those parts in one of my skull molds (a teenage Chinese girl) and made myself a skull bowl using an old t-shirt and some ribbon to line it. Here it is, and there’s lots more (including some step-by-step on the mold making with Composimold, which is very cool stuff so far) of that project and some stuff that Nefarious is working on after the break.

So yeah, more after the break.


Nearly 1,000 nails pounded, 15,000 left to go

Well, I’m not sure what the upper limit actually is, but it’s a lot. If every “pixel” was filled in, then it would be 22,500, but much of the canvas is without nails. I’m doing it on 3/4″ plywood, and I have this terrible paranoia that it’s going to self destruct as I’m 90% finished threading it and have a muscley swollen right Popeye arm. My general procedure is to mark out a little 5×5 grid of dots using a white-out pen and then I use marker to “label” what kind of nail each will be, selecting from a brass screw, a dark metal nail, or the same thing but rusty, a light galvanized nail, or a copper roofing nail. Then I pound guide holes for the screws, and then nail everything in from shortest to longest and then add the screws. In addition to a couple hammers I have a few nail holders (regular tweezers, and some DIY clamps I made for the purpose out of plastic and foam) and a screwdriver with the head cut off for pounding nails that are below the average landscape height, and also for slightly shifting the position of nails.

This is how far I’ve gotten as of this evening:

The whole thing is 48″ square, so four feet by four feet. I really may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I am trying to fill in absolutely every single moment of my life with something. The second I sit down and am not really focused on something else I descend into the abyss of pain that this damned disease keeps me in. To be honest, even blogging or watching television or any cerebral activity can often not be enough to keep my mind off the hellish agony. So I’ve got a lot of projects on the go. Obviously I can’t pound nails at night (my neighbor Chriznik of Effigy was really cool with me when I moved in and moved his band’s jam space to be considerate of me, so I feel horribly guilty about the wall-penetrating noise already, to say nothing of annoying Caitlin) so tonight I’m going to work on a stuffed animal project — I’m making safety eyes and so on out of plastic resin and this is the test project.

Oh and I also made a ruler that’s got 5/16″ spacing that’s in the picture above, but if I do this again, and I am not sure I would because of how long it takes unless I took on a $$$-generous commission, I have already thought up quite a few things that would streamline the process of creation significantly. Finally, if it’s not obvious from the picture what all those nails are supposed to represent, here it is in context:

I just realized this may be my first true self-portrait since high school, although I guess the paintings that I made for Caitlin for Christmas sort of count, but it’s not the same thing. I’d say this is a self-portrait in the focused, dedicated, formal and traditional sense of the word.

I have so much that I am mad about and want to write about — nothing personal, don’t worry, just more about politics and healthcare and space travel and all the myriad other things that bubble out of my tormented mind — and it seems hard for me to maintain focus on writing without getting worked up, but I think I’m going to leave that for another time because it always ends up taking so much longer than I realize at the time, and I get into pounding away at this keyboard and suddenly I realize that two hours have gone past that I could have spent doing so much more useful things. So see ya later alligator.

Oh yeah — tonight I’m going to start reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s Gifts to Nefarious which I’m hoping will be good. We just finished Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson, which on one hand was a fun and light read, but on the other hand was bizarrely peppered with homophobia and racism, enough that I felt I should post a warning review to Amazon about it, because to my surprise, even though there are a great many reviews of the book in various prints, not a single reviewer has mentioned this.

Should I be upset? I found it odd to say the least.

The king of all media (my first hard plastic toy)

“All media” in that I now feel comfortable making molds out of silicone, plaster, and fiberglass, and then casting those results in sliicone, candy or chocolate, wax, soap, and hard plastic, as well in the non-moldy world all sorts of woodworking and metal machining and more. Add Caitlin’s background in welding (we just got a small MIG/TIG welder) and fabrics, and my comfort level with computer design, painting, and more, then we’ve got a very capable household and that’s something I’m quite proud of. I’m just so pleased about it and I feel like we can make anything. Today’s addition to my portfolio is hard plastic. Here’s the first thing I made, and there are lots more photos after the break.

That’s a miniature skull that’s cast in urethane in one of my silicone soap molds. I didn’t completely fill up the two-part mold, so once I’d put in a bunch of liquid plastic and closed the mold, I sat there for a few minutes rotating it to spread the plastic evenly. What that means is that it’s got a nice thick even skin, but is hollow and full of air on the inside so it’s tough but quite light.

A few days ago I ordered ComposiMold, which is a reusable mold making material that I’m looking forward to trying. When I placed that order, almost on a whim, I also got a gallon and a half of polyurethane resin. It’s super cool stuff. You mix it 1:1, and then about three minutes later it changes from clear liquid to an opaque off-white hard plastic. Watching it happen is really neat. Then fifteen minutes later you can pop it out of the mold. It trims easily with a hobby knife, and even better than that, it can be machined. On this piece, and you can see this in the photos below, I’ve cut out the gap under the cheekbone (ie. zygomatic bone). When you grind it, there is zero melting. It just turns into powder. It’s really wonderful to work with and I’m quite excited thinking about all the neat things I can do.

More photos of the plastic skull (and some other stuff too) after the break.