Sunday, September 25, 2011

Behold! The Arm! part 1

The wait is over! The newspaper has arrived (so have my LED lights!)! Thanks to the work of several friends and my mom I now have enough material to start making things for real. The 'mystery project' from the other day is still paused because I needed to start working on a decoration that is going to hang in front of my front door for Halloween and the mystery one is an extra. Initially, I had wanted a spiderweb-wrapped mummy that shook and screamed. That is, until I actually saw the thing (see earlier post). I've designed something I think is far better. Select bones and cloth(to be like old rotted clothes) and spiderwebs. If it works right it should look like a desiccated spider victim. Since I normally web over my entryway pretty heavily it should fit right in.

 I used instructions from this website, it's one that I highlighted in an earlier post about snot rag maché. The instructions it gives are pretty simple. Making newspaper do what's in the instructions is surprisingly challenging.

 Above you see the first steps. Roll some paper into a tube the length(ish) of an arm and tape it in place. Make sure the paper is secure before cutting from one end toward the center. Remember, the humerus is longer than the radius and ulna. Then you have to make the cut portion into the radius and ulna.  That's where the first major challenge comes in.

I used between 4 and 6 sheets of newspaper and rolled that.  When I cut it, as you saw above, it took on a life of its own.  Apparently it wanted to be a squid.  Since I disagreed with that purpose, I had to make it do what I wanted.  

 The two images you see above are the first steps of what I did.  First I taped the end of one section.  The was mostly to hold it in place so I could tape the 'bone' the rest of the way.  Then I had to cut that first taping, re-position the bone end, and tape it down again.  It was making the second bone that was hard (shown below).  The paper had bent back and didn't really want to form a tube.  It took quite a bit of effort to tape the end of the second bone so that I could work with the rest of that section. If you look near the 'elbow' area you can see where the paper tried to tear.

 The end result was pretty impressive though.  You can see that the radius and ulna try to twist around each other which is what they do in the arm.
 For optimum arm definition, though, I needed the lower arm bones to be separate a bit.  Because the paper was so stiff I couldn't hold it in one hand and tape it with the other.  I had to stick something between the bones, in this case my cable remote, and then I was able to tape the ends together and get some space between the bones.  What I didn't get a picture of was the bending of the elbow.  That was easy, I gave it a slight bend, it was maybe 20 degrees up from flat, and taped it down.

 Any decent arm has fingers.  So that's what I started next.  I tightly rolled some newspaper and used my own extremely long and bony fingers as a model for how long the fingers should be

I quickly decided doing it one finger at a time was dumb.  So I rolled a longer and smaller tube, marked where the fingers should start and end with tape and then cut the taped section.  That kept it from unraveling.

If you use this method of finger making there is a section of the rolled piece that you shouldn't use.  The very ends of the rolled piece have the least amount of paper and are really weak.  You have to find where the paper is a little thicker for it to be nice and strong.
If you look you'll see that on each of the 5 fingers there is tape on both ends. That became my easy way of knowing where each finger would be on each roll of paper.  It took me a bit to get tubes of a size I liked, I made 4 tubes total but only used 3 of them for parts.

Here you see the hand assembly.  The instructions say to make one side flat and then use the other side for definition, depending on what will be visible.  Since this required tape in a specific way, I laid out what I thought I would need and built the hand on top of it.   
Once the fingers were in position, I started layering tape over the top which is the back of the hand.  To give it bone definition I attached the tape to the left side bottom tape and then slowly pressed the top tape down as I laid it over each finger bone. Getting in between the fingers was the tricky bit here.  It helped a little if I rolled the finger I was working on to the left as I was trying to tape down the other side and in between fingers.  Once I had all the fingers down I taped to the bottom of the finger bones and wrapped the tape on itself.
The amount of tape on the metacarpal area was clearly not enough but I wanted to be able to bend the fingers easily so I measured the hand with my hand and marked the knuckles with pieces of tape.

I told you before I used my hand as a model.  I did actually take pictures of my hand to refer to as I was bending fingers but then realized it was just as easy to hold my hand out and look.  As this is a spider victim I figured the hand should have an almost natural relaxed look.  I say almost natural because the body would have eventually been desiccated which tightens skin so the fingers would be curved more than what a living hand would be when relaxed.  At least, that's what I remember from the mummified frog I once found at an archery range.

This is the finger bending process.  I started with the little finger end joint and curved the finger around as per the instructions "bend the finger and then tape the bend tightly" which is actually more difficult that it sounds if you only have 2 hands of your own.  I worked from pinky to thumb and made sure to bend the finger on my marked knuckle joint as well.  That was tricky because the tape didn't really want to bend. Soon I had a delightful piece that actually looked like a hand.  Then I had to attach it to the arm.
One look at your own hand will tell you that, unless you make it that way, your hand isn't flat.  To get that natural look I overlapped the existing tape (which wasn't sticky because that's the tape to tape area below the hand) below the hand onto the end of the arm bones forming the wrist.  Then I formed the curvature of the hand by wrapping that section around the arm bones and taping it down.  Then you flip it over and do the same on the other side, taping to the contours of the palm side.
And voila!  One arm.  You can see that I wasn't quite finished yet.  The hand looks good but the fingers are really super long because the palm doesn't go all the way to the knuckles like it should.

Adding a little more tape to the front and back of the hand for the palm was really easy, but I did have to cut out a bit between the thumb and index finger so that it didn't look webbed.  And there you have it, one arm ready for fleshing!  That's part 2, as you might have guessed.

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