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Late one night last summer I was sitting on our front porch sketching some new Halloween designs by candlelight and came up with a concept for a gargoyle type of creature that intrigued me. The sketch was a departure from my previous gargoyle designs; it was something different and something I felt worth building for our 2012 Halloween display.
The build process for the GateKeepers was a lot of trial and error with the head and wings being created first with not much thought given as to how the entire piece would be assembled. The following documentation will rely heavily on the photos to tell the story as all the techniques can be found in the other tutorials.
Using the sketch as a reference I decided to start with the head. Each head was built on half of a balloon that had been covered with papier mache strips and allowed to dry. Next the elongated jaws were constructed creating the gaping mouth effect and covered with more papier mache.
The eyes and nostrils were then cut from the balloon shell and homemade papier clay was used to add skull structure and texture. After the clay dried the pointed ears were made from corrugated cardboard and the cheekbones were exaggerated according to the concept sketch. The teeth were made pieces of recycled cardboard cut into thin triangle shapes.
The GateKeeper’s wings were made by from large sheets of corrugated cardboard. Each wing was covered with several layers of newspaper strips coated in papier mache paste, as the wet wings dried they were positioned so that each point of the wing was angled upwards, this was accomplished by placing small plastic bowls under each tip while the main portion of the wing lay flat on the floor. Once the wings had dried they maintained the curved shape giving them some three dimensional interest.
The wings were further defined by addition a tube of rolled newspaper to the inside of each wing simulating the wing bone, note how slits were cut into the paper tube to allow it to be curved.
The final step with the wings was to add a thin layer of papier clay and sculpt a vein-like pattern into the surface. A vertebrae-like bone pattern was also sculpted along the inside of each wing.
The head and wings were than attached to a wooden frame, this part of the process was all trial and error as I used recycled scraps of wood and built a frame that would hold each piece in the proper position.
The torso was next on the list, again the basic shape was made with recycled corrugated cardboard and covered with papier mache strips. Ribs were added to the chest using rolled up newspapers. The legs and claws were also cut from thick cardboard and attached to the wood frame.
The GateKeepers were based on a single sketch showing a full front view so when it came time to work on the back of the sculptures I had nothing to reference. The shape of the backs went in a very Alien-esque direction which allowed me to continue with the heavy vertebrae texture.
The head, wings, torso and legs were now just random pieces attached to a wood frame, the process of connecting all these parts in a logical fashion was a big challenge. The technique I used was to use 1 inch strips of cardboard to “fill in the gaps” between each piece and cover the wood frame. The process was like putting a jigsaw puzzled together meaning that sometimes the pieces worked and looked convincing and other times the area needed to be reworked.
The painting process was a base coat of black exterior latex paint followed by a white dry brush to highlight the texture. The resulting creations are unique and a bit odd which fit perfectly into our annual Halloween display.