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Show Time Again.

Once again it’s showtime.  This year we’re doing a dance production of Pirates of the Caribbean.  Yes there’s artistic license used – show me a stage production that doesn’t! – but the story is there.  I’ve heard some of the music so far, received the script – which now has to be turned into a working script for distribution to all parties involved.

The logistics are giving me nightmares. I have four scenes with one basic set.  Port, mansion, treasure island and deck.  Just a bit of a challenge. 🙂  I’ve got the sketches done for the various scenes – now to make it reality.

I’ve started working on the props and the jewelry for the dancers.  How to create jewelry that’s as authentic to the period as possible, yet “dances”.  In other words doesn’t swing around and slap someone in the face, doesn’t catch on costumes or arms, hands, legs and feet (yes, they’re all involved in dancing!), won’t move around during the dance BUT still be visible from the audience.  😀  Then of course there’s the little factor that you need 12 or more IDENTICAL sets of jewelry, sometimes more, depending on the size of the group.

Finding the required number of old mountings – scrap!  Finding the right size mountings – scrap!  So… thank God for whoever invented polymer clay!  This is the first time I’m using polymer in any of my sets.  It’s got it’s own learning curve involved but so far I’m really happy with the results.

The jewelry for the maidens involves a triple strand pearl choker with a large cameo focal.  Try finding the right sized cameos. LOL.  Out came the one and only cameo I had inherited from my gran, add Alleygoop silicone molding compound and the first cast was made.  Take said resulting mold and make ONE cameo.  Haul out the sculpting tools and re-define ALL the details, cut away any surrounding clay, smooth and create just the actual head.  Make second mold. Happy?  Yes! So make another 13 heads – one extra just in case! Brush on paint and antique to try and resemble the pink tones of the original shell carving – yeah okay, I can live with those.  Once those were done, I then had to create a suitable background to mount those on in the form of a cab which would still need a suitable old fashioned mounting.

I wanted a mother of pearl look. Maybe I shouldn’t have read the instructions for faux mother of pearl at nearly midnight right before going to sleep.  I duffed it – used translucent instead of pearl clay as the base. However – having gone that far, I wasn’t going to waste any clay. Out came my pearlex powders and I created something vaguely shell like that worked.  Cut those out in an appropriate size oval – oops! Wait! No oval cutter.  Find suitable chewing gum container, cut away the top and file the edge to a taper. That worked. Ovals cut, heads added and the lot cured. Oval cutters arrived 3 weeks later. Figures!  Ok – so now add a mounting and figure how in the name of all that is holy I’m going to add them to the choker.  There is of course, the possibility that the focal will have to be changed for a different dance item – hmm… a pin? Could work.

The mounting became an exercise in learning.  I found an old earring with a lovely surround, obviously the wrong shape – wouldn’t possibly be simple right? – and made a silicone mold of just the detail of the mounting.  Roll out a nice long snake of polymer and take a few impressions of the detail. Cut strategically and join into a long rope – wind around the cured cab to get the exact shape and tweak the join. Great! Layer that on top of a medium thick sheet of clay and trim the excess away.  Neaten the joins, double check that everything is properly joined, cure.  Prototype of the mounting made.  More Alleygoop, another mold.

The mountings made and “gilded”, cameo’s in place, I derived a “channel” piece on the back that will take the three strands of pearls (the concept of changing the focal has thankfully been scrapped), and now I get to repeat the entire process for the earrings.  Only much, much smaller.  At this stage the mold for the cameos is made, as well as the mold for the mounting. I just have to sit down and make them.

The sample set was made – rather happy with the way it all turned out, as is the dance teacher.

In the meantime the treasure chest yawns wide open, decidedly empty and begging to be filled.  A few strands of pearls finished so far, along with a few other bits and bobs I’ve scrounged. There is a set to build, totem poles to make, paintings to be done, supplies to be bought, a chandelier and a mast to construct and we’ve barely started.

Oh, did I tell you the show is in July?


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While I was making the leaf veiners, I found a corn cob in the fridge that still had it’s leaves. Now from past experience I know that the corn leaves are very useful for texturing so I decided to make a texture sheet from it. I can see all sorts of uses for it. Basket weave, leaves etc. etc.

Read the photos from left to right please.


What you’ll need:

Pasta machine, tissue blade, tile, scrap clay and a corn leaf.

What to do:

Condition some scrap clay and put through the pasta machine on the 4th thickest setting. Make sure there are no air bubbles in the surface.

Gently unroll the corn leaf – they tend to curl – and wipe it with a clean cloth to make sure there is no residual grit or dirt. Stretch it slightly and place it on the clay sheet.

Position the sheet of clay and corn leaf between the rollers of the pasta machine at the same setting you used for your sheet of clay. Carefully roll it through keeping the corn leaf stretched and even. See how mine creased slightly? Carefully separate the leaf from the sheet of clay.

Trim the edges of the texture sheet using a tissue blade, place on a tile and cure according to the manufacturers instructions.

Nifty don’t you think?

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