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The Sentinels were created for entry into the April 2009 Mad Lab Contest.
The contest required a haunted prop to be made from a plastic bucket, the size used for household cleaning and mopping.
The bucket serves as the base armature for a towering four and a half foot tall skeletal statue dubbed “The Sentinel.”
The armature was a good exercise in using recycled materials such as plastic milk jugs, plastic coffee cans, plastic starch and water bottles, plastic bags, newspaper, magazine and cardboard.
The finished sculpt was draped with distressed fabric creating an eerie shroud that protects the Sentinel as he stands watch over the graveyard on October 31st.
The Sentinel project started with gathering a collection of recycled items that would be used to construct the armature for a large skeletal style of statue.
The main body armature consisted of a plastic bucket, plastic milk jug, plastic coffee container, three plastic starch bottles, three plastic water bottles, plastic grocery bag stuffed with newspaper to create the head and corrugated cardboard for the wings.
The statue leans forward creating a hunched look.
During the assembly of the armature the entire piece was nicely balanced and needed no weight in the base, however after papier mache clay was applied it became unbalanced and the bucket was ultimately secured to a piece of plywood to make it stable.
A combination of hot glue, masking tape and duct tape were used to create the armature, because the piece was so large it was important to insure that everything was secure before starting the papier mache.
The wings were created separately, designed to be attached to the body via two posts made from rolled up newspaper that were fixed to water bottles attached to the body armature. The wings had a slightly larger tube of rolled newspaper attached to them allowing them to be slid over the “posts” on the armature. Creating the wings separately made the construction process easier.
A skeletal face and jaw was created from recycled cardboard (such as cereal boxes). The skeletal face template process can be found in The Basics section of this website.
The entire armature, jaw and wings were covered with approximately eight layers of strip papier mache. The papier mache process was very quick because the scale of the armature allowed for the use of very large strips of paper.
Note that when the wings were covered with papier mache strips they were then placed flat for drying and with the exception of certain parts which were either propped or allowed to drape creating an interesting curved shape when dry.
Once dry the entire form was now very strong and allowed for the addition of details such as collarbone, ribs, arms and hands. The proportion of the collarbone, ribs and arms were based on a skeleton illustration found in an anatomy book.
The Sentinel Skull was nine inches from top of the skull to the bottom of the jaw. The skull in the illustration was one inch so I determined that the ratio was one inch equals nine inches and I calculated the other body parts by measuring the illustration then multiplying the result. The calculations were very easy and very accurate.
The teeth of the skulls were created by hot gluing sunflower seeds in place, the seeds were the right size and shape and created a convincing set of teeth.
Additional papier mache strips and homemade papier mache clay was then used to reinforce and add bulk and dimension to the cardboard and paper additions. During the clay/sculpting process the arms and hands were supported until the piece thoroughly dried.
The dried Sentinels were painted with a base coat of gray latex paint the sponged with black latex to add texture and aging. Finally white latex paint was dry brushed onto the piece to add highlights. Once the paint was dry a distressed piece of fabric was added to create a hood and robe.
The original game plan was to either use monster mud or paper towel soaked in paste but due to time restraints fabric was used. The use of fabric has several advantages such as making the final piece lighter and allowing the look of the Sentinels to change such as using burlap or some other materials.
The Sentinels, perfect for guarding the entrance to an ancient cemetery or welcoming unsuspecting guests to your next Halloween party.