Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Walter's Steam Powered Giraffes

A year ago the group and I played around with an idea to expand our merchandise. Stamping our images over items still proved to be very costly, so we looked into more affordable options.

One of the ideas I had was to sculpt little steam powered giraffes people could buy. Each one unique and hand painted.

Well, it took about a year for me to get around to doing it. Mostly because at the time I didn't know what I'd do about firing the sculptures. But not too long ago I discovered the means to sculpt without the need for an oven.

Magic Sculpt!

You mix the epoxy with the hardener, and depending on how hot of a day it is, it will harden in 2-3 hours.

Seemed to be the answer, and so I bought some and messed around with it.

My first creation actually hardened way too fast. It was a very hot day. As I was adding the details the consistency turned to that of a rock and well, that was that.

The second giraffe I wanted to base off some concept art I did.

However, practicality meant I was restricted to what I had at the time. All the same, he came out great.

The second giraffe's clay I mixed incorrectly, and so it took a few days to harden. As it solidified I added layers of Mod Podge in hope it'd help support it. Luckily it became more or less rock solid as the weeks went on.

To make these guys I used my knowledge from art school in building a wire armature. Armatures are basically skeletons to help support the figure. Though the wire I had available was a little flimsy, so I had to wrap it around itself multiple times. I also punctured my finger with the ends a lot. Fun stuff.
The clay goes over the armature skeleton. Adding screws, bolts, and plastic tubing (And push pins for antlers) they were coming along. The next day I primed them both and began painting.

The final touch is a sealer. I used a spray on gloss glaze to make them even more shiny.

It all came back to me while sculpting. All those lessons from art school. I really enjoyed the hours spent on those sculptures! I had taken a 3D character design class that used oil based clay and the teacher was impressed with my initial attempts. Especially the thin nature of some of the limbs and tiny details. I was determined to get clay to do impossible things.

The difference between oil based clay and magic sculpt is that oil based clay is extremely hard. You work it enough and it gets easier to mold, but sometimes its like chiseling away at soft stone.

Magic Sculpt starts its life very malleable, with a consistency already like the clay used in art classes that you add water to. And like that clay, water keeps it squishy. Of course, Magic Sculpt you only have an hour to work before it will start hardening, so you have to be quick. This annoyed me initially because I wanted to add more detail, but since making these I've learned that Magic Sculpt will adhere to itself, and so you can add more during multiple sessions in addition to sanding it down.

My following giraffes should be a bit more detailed, and yes...I'm at least making 3-5 more because I bought five pounds of the stuff already. I may not continue after that depending on interest, but I do have a lot of ideas.

And these are just the start.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Welcome to the Workshop

As if you wondered who'd write this, I'm Christopher Bennett and I play Rabbit in Steam Powered Giraffe.
Here we're gonna peel back the veneer of Steam Powered Giraffe and take a look at the inner workings of San Diego's musical pantomime troupe. Nestled quietly in the Cavalcadium for fan club members' eyes is a place we'd like to share our behind-the-scenes experience, past endeavors, development, concepts, and ideas not made immediately public. Here you'll see behind the makeup; See the splattered paint, the raw ingredients that go into the production of what we do. And if you stay with us, you might catch tricklings of future plans. GOODIE.

This area probably isn't for everyone. If you have no interest in seeing the strings, you might find this boring. All the same, the option to dig deeper into our group is here for you. I'm doing this as a chronicle of our creation; be it the mime, music, or artwork. For the super-fans or anyone curious as to what actually goes into making this crazy act somehow work.

For our first entry, I'd like to share some images from when we were starting out.

Seen here is a photo manipulation of myself a few months after we began in January 2008.This is an early idea of Colonel P. A. Walter I. Since, we've reimagined his appearance and this photo is no longer used.

Our mime instructor, Jerry Hager, performed his one-man-show Mankind at the Sunshine Brooks Theatre, in addition to a Christmas Show staring his character Kazoo. For both, SPG and another one of his students helped draw people in from outside as shifting statues and Christmas characters respectively. He managed to convince the friendly folks at the Sunshine Brooks to let SPG put on a stage show in their historic theatre.
 We were giddy.
The show what formed was directed by Jerry, loosely inspired by the backstory we were cooking up for the robots, and detailed the events that took place in the infamous Plifterston, New Pennsyltucky World's Fair.

This was a teaser poster for Myspace that I made. You can see the old historical photo manipulations and one of Jerry, who played Colonel P. A. Walter III.

When our newsletter first premiered, we did full newspaper-esque header images with jokes and little comics.
But, we switched to a simpler version deciding the effort was counter productive.
Still worth a chuckle to see.

Album One's case design went through a lot of concept stages, some far more terrible than what I'm showing here. This was whipped up with a number of other concept covers.

The SPG Webcomic was in concept for quite some time, and here's a sketch from early 2009 with cartoon versions of the robots.
Notice Rabbit's old tailcoat. AND HOW FAT.

That's all for now!