Saturday, April 14, 2012

On the Creation of a Jackalope

Last autumn, I went out to Peaks Island with some friends of mine and we visited the Richard Boyd gallery before continuing our romp to Battery Steel. I left my business card with one of the owners and was pleased to receive an email a couple days later with high compliments for the work on this blog. I was even more pleased however, to receive another email a couple weeks ago telling me about their Creatures and Critters show coming up in July, and inviting me to submit a piece for it.

So after a little bit of brainstorming, and then realizing that the deadline for submissions was the 20th I decided to sculpt a jackalope. So from start to not quite finished (but totally getting there):

First, I construct the frame which will support all the clay.

Second, I pad it out a little bit with tinfoil, but not too much.

After that is the most exciting part. 
Getting it from there to here happens very quickly, and its awesome to see it take form.

My first set of ears collapsed under the weight of the clay and weren't the right shape anyhow.
This second set of ears proved much sturdier.

This is where my jackalope is at the moment.

His eyes are two balls of black sculpey which have been hardened with a heat gun.

The claws were also pre-hardened.

 Still more work to be done, but I hope you've enjoyed the preview of what's to come and perhaps a little insight on how I've been building these. I have to give a massive heap of thanks to the sculptor Peter König for two extensive tutorials, from which I've learned everything.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Quartet of Heroes

The set, dressed and ready to go.

This last Friday I went to see the opening of Heroes, and it was fantastic! It was at once hilarious, yet touching, and sometimes tragic as you got to know these French veterans of the first World War. I would like to acknowledge that the finishing touches to the sculpture were not my own. To that end, it was painted by Anita Stewart, the set designer and Portland Stage's Artistic Director, and fixed with a layer of cheesecloth and some paste-type material to preserve it by Chris Hourclé; who also created the set along with Ted Gallant and Chris Reinhardt. And the set looks awesome!

The first scene of the play; the quartet from left to right: 
Philippe (Philip Goodwin), Gustave (Edmond Genest), Henri (Munson Hicks) and Jacques (the dog).

From the moment I was brought onto this project by Andrew Harris, the Production Manager, to the end of it has been a blast. I believe I've clearly been spoiled by having Portland Stage as my first client, because they were so easy to work with and encouraging every step of the way.

Philippe has an interesting quirk.

The dog moved!

I was given the chance to see the play twice, the second time I was invited to go up on stage after the play for a little Q&A session with the audience. I must say, it was quite the honor and a great opportunity for myself professionally to connect a person with the work. I am happy to say that everyone involved and witnessing the play was quite pleased. I am also happy that Jamie Hogan, who helped set me up with this opportunity was in the crowd that day.

Jacques is made of Styrofoam. Gustave had to pretend it was 200lbs of stone. 

I was told that after the first preview of the play audience members were walking by the dog, who is then at the edge of the stage, and reaching out to touch it and find out what Jacques was really made of. If he was actually made of stone, this may not have mattered, but as it was they put him back on his pedestal at the end of the play for future performances.

Jacques is brought in by Gustave for consultation.

The quartet plan their getaway.

During the second half of the play, I really felt the chance to vicariously experience being on stage as the characters, especially Gustave, acknowledge the dog as a member of their quartet and make plans to bring Jacques along on their adventure (though Henri won't have it).

Getting roped up.

Henri reads dog's journal entry to thunderous laughter.

If you take nothing else away from this blog entry, I want it to be this: go see the play, it was fantastic! Seriously... get out to the theater and support some of the amazing arts in Portland next time you get a chance! It'll be worth it.

The play ends on a serene note of hope and inspiration.

My thanks to Chris Hourclé for providing the photography above.