This Halloween Isabelle wanted to be.... a great horned owl. Not any old owl, a great horned owl. I figured it would be a great family project. I could also use a lot of random materials I had lying around the house, and could try out some new maskmaking methods I read about on the Internet.
I had a hood I had made as part of an earlier experiment, made from mixed brown "beaver" fur and the faithful old McCall's MP328 pattern (see previous blog post "Random Things on Hubby's Head"). We used this hood as the base of the mask.
For the eyes, Isabelle formed round shapes with brightly colored Fimo over styrofoam balls, covered with Saran Wrap so the Fimo wouldn't stick and could be removed from the styrofoam afterwards. She left the centers of the eyes open so she could see out of them. Similarly she made the beak out of Fimo, sketching a beak shape out of cardboard and then shaping the Fimo over that.
For the round areas around the eyes and the "V" shape of the forehead, I cut shapes out of sheets of foam that had been used to pack ceramics and glued them to the hood. In order to get the direction of the fur to look natural and pleasing, I made patterns for the pieces using these instructions. I outlined the round areas of the eyes with black faux fur. Isabelle trimmed the "V" shape of the forehead with a feather boa we bought at Joann Fabrics, and she made the "ears" with feathers we bought there as well.
We also had a huge roll of craft paper we bought at a garage sale one summer for $1. We cut out a big piece of this, spread it out on the kitchen floor, and had Isabelle lie down on it in order to sketch out a pattern for a "wing" type cloak. We made the cloak out of a large piece of brown felt, sewing on the "beaver" fur on the top and back for the wings' shoulders and some cream colored "rose" faux fur for the downy undersides. Isabelle outlined the edges of the big feathers with a black Sharpie and colored in the tips black as well. Brian made thin sleeves of fabric at the edges of the cloak and fed thin wooden dowels through them to stiffen the edges of the wings, and sewed elastic loops into the cloak for handholds.
Finally, for the speckled chest of the owl, we just happened to have a faux fur vest lying around that was just perfect for the part. Black leggings completed the ensemble.
Then on Halloween, it rained, and the owl just happened to have to carry an umbrella and wear purple rain boots!
Killer Frog is a local legend. He was a Christmas gift to Isabelle from her great aunt Margie, a beautiful enameled rhinestone-studded frog-shaped jewelry box that developed an insatiable appetite for Playmobil people. He was also the inspiration for my husband Brian's Halloween costume this year.
It was interesting to turn a noob loose in my studio and see what they would do with my methods. As can be seen below, Brian first sculpted a frog mask sketch on the miniature armature, and then the actual mask sculpture on the life-sized armature.
Being the devoted spouse that I am, I positive-cast and assembled the mask for Brian, and he painted and finished it. Here he is modelling it wearing his very appropriate "Get Green" painting shirt. You can tell from the fangs that he's Killer Frog and not, say, Toad from The Wind in the Willows or LeFrog from Flushed Away.
And in other news, we've had some personnel changes here at Sans Souci Studios. Here is our new kitten and administrative assistant, Ezzy, whom we adopted for Isabelle's birthday at the local animal shelter. As you can see he's already getting into the swing of things.
And on a more solemn note, our own black Halloween kitty, Skimble, shown sitting with Isabelle below, passed away suddenly but peacefully in a favorite sunny spot a week ago. She had been a stray with many old injuries, and I guess her body was just too worn and tired out to go on anymore. She is badly missed.
I've been so busy with this that and the other thing that I realize March is almost over, and I haven't yet posted my annual "it's winter and I'm not getting a thing done" post yet. So, here it is.
Isabelle's winter vacation is always tough. I'm not able to work in my studio much at all during the day when she's home, so I try to work at night, after she goes to bed. Only problem is, THIS.
THIS being one of our cats, Rumpleteazer, aka The Teaze to her friends. Nighttime is HER time. After Isabelle goes to bed, she's used to sitting on our laps and getting lots of cuddles while we read or watch TV. In her mind, it is SO not cool for us to do anything else at night!
This is one of Teaze's usual bids for attention. Here she is, standing up on her hind legs and clawing my stomach while I try to work. Usually she claws my butt, but I haven't figured out a way to take a picture of that yet.
And here her bids for attention are escalating.
Oh well. I managed to work for a grand total of ONE HOUR while Isabelle was on vacation, and most of it was spent taking cat pictures. I suppose if I can think up some snappy captions, I could at least post them on icanhazcheezburger.com!