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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am getting a little bit later start on this than I would like, but I am pressing on. I decided I wanted a cemetery statue/monument, was going to do a grim reaper, but I have done that before, cool as it was, so I decided to kick it up a notch at least. i am planning on going for the look of a bronze that has a heavy green patina for the statue and a weathered marble for the base. Below is a crappy doodle of the concept. I am not sure yet exactly how I am going to execute the scythe, but if I end up crunched for time, that’s a detail that can be dealt with later. The thing in the other hand is a crow. I am making it from scratch too so this ought to be interesting.


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I was originally inspired by this image and thought it would be neat to have a statue with that type of patina on it, it would be fun to paint it.
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so here’s some progress so far. Originally I had intended to build a frame with some 1x4 boards I reclaimed from an old shelving unit I acquired, and cover it with XPS foam. However, I found a decidedly awkward looking pink side table at a thrift store for $7 and thought with some embellishment, it would do nicely, save me some time, and also add the benefit of extra weight and stability to the thing.
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Mock up of detail concept i am going for. They will be panels made of 3/4 in XPS foam

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I am pretty sure whoever made the decision to paint that thing to go with a Pepto Bismol themed decor would never have guessed it’s next life would develop in this manner. I know furniture isn’t sentient, but I like to think this thing is happy to be elevated from WTF to HOLY CRAP!

Okay enough inane banter…. Here are progress shots, added some wood, pile of skulls and bones at top. The skulls are milk jug skulls, the bones are some cannibalized arm bones from a skeleton I tore apart for other purposes a few years ago, and some are made from scraps of pool noodle. I am probably going to make some more to fill in gaps where there is just expanse of blank great stuff, which is how they are all "glued" together. I really would have liked a few more skulls, but I got tired of making them, there are I think 11 so far? I don’t know. After a respite, I may decide to make a few.
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Looks awesome! If you get crunched for time, there are plastic crow decoys that are pretty cool looking and available in 3 poses (wings folded at rest, wings open like in flight or landing, wings folded and head turned to look behind it). I love the color your are aiming for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Here are some progress shots of the statue. In order to make this easier to move and store, I am making it so it can be broken down. The wings will be separately removable, and the statue will come off of the base. The PVC attachments are odd on the armature, especially on the area where the wings attach simply because I wanted to utilize the fittings and PVC sizes I had on hand so as not to have to buy more. More so for reducing clutter than concern over cost. For the forearms, I used a piece of heavy wire from a flower/wreath hanger I rescued from the trash can at a nearby cemetery.
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I used some push button spring clips to attach the wing sections to the body so they would be secure yet easy to remove.


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I drew out a rough pattern of the wings and used it as a template to bend the pvc pipe with a heat gun and then trimmed it to size after it cooled. I am planning on making the feathers out of a combination of poster board and weed control fabric stiffened with some all weather wood glue and cornstarch paste for the longer primary feathers, and for the shorter secondary and cap feathers, I will use EVA fun foam sheets. everything will then be given multiple layers of paint and spar urethane varnish.
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
For the skeleton, i used this skull I picked up at Menards. it's also the one i used to make most of the milk jug skulls on the base. It's a hollow resin and quite fragile, but it has great detail for a skull that is under $6 so to counter the fragility, I broke open the bottom, inserted a length of 1in PVC pipe and filled it with rigid 2 part foam, so should something happen and it gets dropped or hit, it will all remain glued together with the foam.
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For the bones in the hands and the forearms, i used some foam backer rod. i will go over this with a layer of paper mache clay to give it the final finish and detail. i am planning on using the same material for the rib cage and neck as well.
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The bones in the wrist are not really accurate, but i had to bulk them up for stability so I had to take some license there
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
for the details on the base, I wanted to do a gothic sort of vibe with some skull details thrown in so I planned to make a mold and cast some copies of this small skull I have.
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However, not wanting to spend the money for expensive real mold making silicone and other materials, and considering it's relatively small, I thought I'd try using some 100% silicone caulk. I picked up a few tubes on clearance from Walmart for 50¢ each, really cheap. In order to make the mold though, I had to thin it enough to make it pourable, so after watching a few youtube videos, I mixed it with some Naptha and added corn starch to aid the curing.
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I bought some 2 part fence post setting foam from Menards and mixed up a small batch and poured it in
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When I first pulled it out, I was stoked, it look great, however within 20 minutes or so, I noticed the foam had begin to shrivel up and the skull ended up distorting and shrinking to about half of the size and was just awful looking. Unfortunately I failed to get a pic of the fully shriveled one but here is one from about a half hour later starting to get pitted and puckered.
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UPDATE - I found the fully shrunken pull from above. i thought i had tossed it but apparently i set it aside for... i don't know for nostalgia?
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I determined that there was some sort of reaction to either the naptha, and/or the not yet fully cured albeit fully hardened silicone. The mold STANK of a combination of naptha and acetic acid from the silicone, that nasty vinegar smell it gives off, for a week. I tried another pour after this point and the foam didn't shrivel but by this point the silicone had shrank substantially so the mold was distorted and the resulting pull from it was unacceptable so I chucked it all in the trash. This was experimental so I wasn't seriously disappointed or surprised it didn't work but still I was hoping it would. It turns out the skull I was using was a bit too big anyway and since I didn't want to end up with another failed attempt, I resorted to getting an ice mold from amazon and cast some in the same foam with it. I am happy with the results. They just need some cleanup.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looks awesome! If you get crunched for time, there are plastic crow decoys that are pretty cool looking and available in 3 poses (wings folded at rest, wings open like in flight or landing, wings folded and head turned to look behind it). I love the color your are aiming for.
Thanks for the suggestion. I looked into those at the onset of the conceptual stages of this project and determined that most of those were either not natural looking enough, or large enough to suit my taste, so i decided to try to make one myself. I have ZERO experience trying to make a lifelike bird, but I have a ton of reference images so I'm going for it. Worst case scenario, it looks like monkey butt and I can curse loudly over it and move on.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Damn, watching you do everything you way you do it puts everything I ever made to shame. I don't have the skill or imagination that you do, excellent job so far.
I appreciate the kudos. Whatever skill that is perceived however is merely the result of omitting the information regarding the parts i have struggled with, (exception being the failed mold attempt) along with a bit of experience from building similar things in the past. In other words, it's acquired through trial and a lot of error.
 

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I appreciate the kudos. Whatever skill that is perceived however is merely the result of omitting the information regarding the parts i have struggled with, (exception being the failed mold attempt) along with a bit of experience from building similar things in the past. In other words, it's acquired through trial and a lot of error.
Wait ... You left out the bits like "Spent an hour looking for the right size bolt, gave up. Found it the next day in 5 min.". How could you?

I mean ... That happens to no one here (we are all fully stocked and meticulously organized).

I admit that as I read this installment I thought it was current day events and I thought, "Is this for 2022 maybe? Who starts creating a mold so late in September? Do they golf in thunderstorms, too?"

This is going to be such a cool project. I am excited to see how you do the crows. I would love to have a dense flock so if there is a DIY solution that would be awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
[QUOTE="Engineerchic, post: 2607387, member: 100865

I admit that as I read this installment I thought it was current day events and I thought, "Is this for 2022 maybe? Who starts creating a mold so late in September? Do they golf in thunderstorms, too?"

This is going to be such a cool project. I am excited to see how you do the crows. I would love to have a dense flock so if there is a DIY solution that would be awesome.
[/QUOTE]

I actually made the mold and started adding the extra wood bits to the base/cabinet, and created the basic PVC armature for the skeleton over Labor Day weekend, and i started planning, and gathering materials and references around the end of July just have been too busy to get around to putting anything on here until now. BUT the progress mentioned and pictured here is now current. as of now, the only progress made on he crow is to glue 2 blocks of syrofoam together, figured that isn,t really post-worthy.
 

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I love what you have so far can't wait to see the final product! I used the fence post stuff to mold 25 skulls I bought a 2 molds from Pacific Mold Company and then took the plastic mold and painted on about 8 layers of liquid latex to the mold letting each layer dry before I added the next. Once the latex was all dry and thick enough I poured the fence post mixture in. The latex acts as a release and you can make about 10 or so skulls before the latex becomes too corrupted. I also found you have to be very accurate with the mix ratio or the skulls turn out flakey, brittle and with lots of air holes. It helps alot to put a plastic bag over the top of the mold and weight it so the material stays compressed and it expands. I put a 20.lbs block of wood on it.

Good luck, I will be very interested in how you manage the wings, the plan sounds solid!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I love what you have so far can't wait to see the final product! I used the fence post stuff to mold 25 skulls I bought a 2 molds from Pacific Mold Company and then took the plastic mold and painted on about 8 layers of liquid latex to the mold letting each layer dry before I added the next. Once the latex was all dry and thick enough I poured the fence post mixture in. The latex acts as a release and you can make about 10 or so skulls before the latex becomes too corrupted. I also found you have to be very accurate with the mix ratio or the skulls turn out flakey, brittle and with lots of air holes. It helps alot to put a plastic bag over the top of the mold and weight it so the material stays compressed and it expands. I put a 20.lbs block of wood on it.

Good luck, I will be very interested in how you manage the wings, the plan sounds solid!
Yeah i have gotten some minor bubbling or pitting in the foam on my small skulls, but overall they are solid and since i am goign for a pitted and weathered stone texture anyway, less work for me to it's to my advantage in this case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
so latest progress, not much but I got the small skulls cleaned up, which basically just required cutting the extra stuff off the back and sanding it flat. for the sanding i spray glued a sheet of sandpaper to a scrap of plywood and just rubbed the skull around.
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And I got started on the basic form for the crow. I printed out a full size image of the crow, cut it out and traced it on to the styrofoam block. This is where i wished i had either a hot wire or my tiny band saw would accommodate a thicker material, but since neither is the case, i just made due with a hack saw blade and a long reciprocating saw blade and one of those foam sanding blocks to get the rough shape carved out. I have some very crude reference lines now marked on it to aid with further form refinement. This is my first try at doing this type of thing this way so hopefully it'll come together. I have also found the finding good quality reference images of a top view and bottom view of a live crow, in any position besides flight are difficult to impossible, but i have a coulpe so hopefully they will suffice
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
crow is coming along. i refined the form and glued in some more of that floral wreath hanger wire for legs
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The way I did the feathers ended up being more bulky than I thought, so the actual wing feather layers/pattern is not at all accurate. Originally I had intended that this would be a "real" crow that was just perched on the statue but now I am going to make it like it is part of the statue so the stylized look will make more sense. I think it will be cooler looking painted with the bronze patina to match the rest anyway, but I may make it a bit less than the rest so it;s darker and stands out more. Anyway, the process I used was to cut out the individual wind feathers twice and then layer them on
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When I got to the cover feathers, I cut out a single sheet and cut lines in to look like individual feathers rather than actually doing individual ones,

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I also started adding head and leg and feet detail. I really don't like the way the tail is curled up, i overdid it with the heat gun, but I am moving on and leaving it.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I also made some progress on the detail panels for the base. I cut out some rectangles fro m3/4 in foam and ran them over my crappy table router with an ogee bit along the edge for detail.
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I made up a pattern in Photoshop and printed out, transferred it to poster board and cut it out to make a tracing template

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I cut out the inner details with an exacto knife. I will use some sand paper to clean up the roughness in the cuts a little, but the weathering and paint I am going to do with take care of a great deal of it later. I will glue a skull in the center of the circle, I think I am going to remove the mandible on all of the skulls, I think I liek it better that way. So that's one down and ONLY 7 more of these to go!
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sometimes I get into a build and something comes up or I get an idea that changes the direction of it, not just something not working out as hoped, such as the thing with the crow, or the skull mold, but a change in the actual look or detail of something. That is probably very vague sunless you have experienced it and know what I mean. SO it happened on this one today, in a somewhat significant yet not detrimental way. It has been HOT in my area lately. I do not do well with 80 degree heat. I like 60s. So my main work area, which is my unconditioned garage, has become temporarily unacceptable to work in, during the late afternoon, early evening hours, which is when I have the time to work. So I, I decided to stay in the cool air conditioned comfort of my house and try to figure out a more solid plan on the look of the scythe that I have previously mentioned was not decided. SO I grabbed a sketchbook and pencil and started doodling. In the process, I also decided to figure out what to do about the "belt" area of the robe, not wanting to just tie a rope or something around there. I thought maybe if they sort of seemed to go together as a theme that might be cool. I know, kind of sounds like a fashionista matching the shoes to the bag, but anyway, I had the idea of a thick sort of medieval leather belt, but then that started me thinking further about the robe altogether, and before I knew it, I had made a doodle of some leather plate armor/doublet thing that looks like a rib cage, rather than the original plan to have actual bones showing, and I am now convinced that it is so badass that I now have to go that way. LUCKILY I have yet to get far enough into it that i have to redo anything and I might get also lucky enough that this will take less time that the "real" bones. I made a quick mock-up to see it in real size. I grabbed some empty beer boxes and cut some rough shapes out, this literally took me less that half hour to throw together as proof of concept so I am definitely thinking it's a go. anyway after all that TMI, here's the doodle and photo of the mock-up

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