Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Birthing Yanu

Meet Yanu, the owner/wearer of those lovely silk Luna moth wings just made. I wasn't expecting to make him now and then BAM! Here he is! Very quick sculpt. But then, Halfland is all about transformations. The transformations from one thing into another, like the caterpillar to a moth, like day into night, like a lump of clay into a living creation.
Tape and wire armature attached to wooden square stock on base. Paper wings that were used as the pattern for the silk version were attached for scale as clay musculature was added in layers.

His face went through several transformations, the last a surprise to me. (Click to enlarge for reading notes.).
It was a challenge to articulate facial features the way I wanted on a sculpt the size of a walnut. I finally resorted to a magnifying visor worn over my specs and knit cap. I may look funny but I'm thrilled that Yanu has arrived.

Friday, October 01, 2010

On a Prayer and a Wing

Constance and I dove right into making Yanu's Luna moth wings and started working out a technique that turned out so well I believe I'll make all the rest of Halfland's insect wings with this exact method.

This could be my favorite Halfland build so far! After Constance and I built the bamboo grove set (I'm so behind in posting you likely don't even know yet about Constance, or the bamboo grove!), we started constructing/designing the illuminated moon lantern that the Mothman character, Yanu, will carry through the grove in the dark (you heard me!) Then somehow, one thing lead to another and all of a sudden Yanu himself started wanting to be finally realized in the flesh.We started puppet building with Google, calling up as many images and videos of Luna moths as we could wish for. (The age we live in offers increasingly awe-inspiring privileges in its making it so effortless to have all that we need at hand to create.)

I strung an old piece of silk voile on a large quilter's hoop and secured the fabric all around with tape. Affixed scale print outs of the character's wings to acetate to the underside of the fabric with more tape. Next I used fine (34 metric gauge) gold wire lengths and positioned them as "ribs" in the wing structure, using the print outs as the guide. These wires were held in place with the use of straight pins pushed through all the layers, to make the ribs curve and stay close to the silk.
Then several coats of matte medium on both sides were applied to adhere the gold wires in place. I mixed a custom florescent UV reactive paint, to capture the Luna moths' elusive, delicate blue green color, and hand-colored the wings on both sides over the dry matte medium layer. Walnut ink and dye was used to tinge the edges for an organic look.

To securely sandwich the wire structure between 2 layers of silk, I brushed on a flood of matte medium, carefully pressing down the new top layer tightly around each little wire. The resulting durable wings are animatable, due to arcs of aluminum at the top of each wing part, and the thin gold wires supporting well the shape. And yet it's all still nicely translucent as well (see back lit photos just above).
Then came my Graham Owen-inspired moment. One of the reference images I had from a moth and butterfly macro photography book showed the phenomenal feather-like texture of these wings, including the elaborate mosaic that make up the four "eyes" on the wings. I started painting the ovals organically with yellow paint (as seen doing above) and used many colors of flocking powders and chalks to emulate the eyes on both sides You can see the feathery texture the flocking powders give when seen through a magnifier above. I dusted each segment of each wing on both sides with white flocking powder, to avoid coating the wires.

Once fully painted, I freed each wing part from the hoop by cutting around the paper pattern shape I had been following. I layered the top and bottom wings, shaping the frill of the tails with the wires, and was blown away at how beautiful, natural, and functional these came out. My newest 1/2L thrill.
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