Friday, December 21, 2012

Octopus Frame - Part 1

The most complex of my end-of-year framing projects was for "An Octopus Finally Killing A Lighthouse Which Is Assumpted Into An Angel".

First I drew out a rough plan...

I wanted to add a curtain, and my first thought for this was to add a metal rod like a towel rail, with rings on that looped through eyelets in the fabric. There were tentacles too.

I began with an L shaped bit of wood, cut to fit the wood panel the painting was on (the painting was already finished by this stage). Then stuck more wood on the outside to make it thicker and cut an arch for the top using a jigsaw from some MDF, that will be the hollow for the "black hole" painting.

The object was now bare wood. I then filled the deep holes with something called Sculptamold. That's a mix of paper and plaster, so it sets quickly and rock hard but is less liquid than plaster and can be sculpted with. After that I poured liquid plaster over the whole frame and coated that with casting resin to make it stronger (plaster is quite brittle and rather inclined to smash if dropped). I then stuck some shells on using epoxy clay, an ideal glue for this purpose because it's really strong and good at filling big gaps.

I had a choice for the tentacles... plaster again? Or clay of some sort? Or plastic or polymer clay or epoxy clay? All had pros and cons. In the end I chose papier mache because it wouldn't be too heavy, could be moulded and was strong enough to take knocks without smashing into bits.

I used a product called Art Mache, which is fine paper dust which can be made into a clay-sort of paste and moulded by hand. It worked rather well. Here it is after the tentacles have been applied...

You can see the wood frame beneath, and the shells. The plain plaster looks pink here because the casting resin colours it. The black rings are rubber o-rings. I thought these would work as suckers for the tentacles! I didn't expect that they would stay on, so I pulled them off, still leaving a nice indentation.

The Art Mache took days to dry, and in the end I propped the frame up in front of the fire all day. This did the job (although even then they were only just dry).

Here it is dry and seen from above...

Then it was time to colour it. I wanted to echo the colours in the painting but not make them so bright that the frame would be a distraction. I wanted a dark frame then, and toyed with the idea of black and gold a lot. I painted some tests on plaster and the rich brown with gold highlights looked wonderful so I decided on that.

Here it is all brown, but with a deep red (mars violet) for the tentacles and arch at the top.

You might see the yellow dots, those are the holes for the curtain bar...

That's about half way. I'll post the second half plus photos of the finished frame in the next post.

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