two dolphins

i am proud to announce that i have been given the commission for two dolphins, benefiting the georgia aquarium.  the first of them was commissioned by mckenney’s inc, the build/design firm responsible for the hvac and life support systems for all that water.  and the second dolphin, commissioned a bit later, is the home depot dolphin.

when i did the sandy springs turtles in 2005 i think it was, i decided i needed to pitch my designs to the industries most likely to help with the fund raising.  so i designed a doctor dolphin that would appeal to the many medical businesses in sandy springs, and a travel dolphin, that a local travel agency picked up.  so when i designed possible dolphins for the current fund raiser, i continued that trend.  i designed a delta dolphin, i designed a coke dolphin.  i wondered which of our big-hitting companies would get involved with fund raising.  i figured perhaps the large number of consultants and lawyers and accountants this city supports would make them public spirited, and designed a consultant dolphin with a shark’s fin instead, but nobody is spending money in the world of consulting, i guess.

but anyway, when i did the sandy springs turtles it was unclear who was eventually going to wind up with them, and so my customizing was limited to what the eventual owner would probably like.  this time, i know who i’m working with.  i have a wonderfully helpful contact at each sponsor’s head office who is as excited about it as i am, and i’ve got the full cooperation of everybody i’ve talked to about it.  this way i get to customize the dolphins to really reflect who these sponsors are, and all the great work they’ve done in the community.  with humor, certainly, but loving humor, i’m working with the companies directly to make a whimsical sculpture that everyone working there can identify with.  it’ll be wearing their clothes, and their badges, and look just like them, given today’s diversity in the workplace rules.

so, welcome to my studio, home depot dolphin.  the corporate staff is getting together to try and c  come up with a name for our dolphin, because as you know, the work aprons have the associate’s name on them.

the mckenney’s dolphin with all the seams pasted on, just so i can see what i’m doing

so last night i started with a pint of acrylic gel medium (thanks kay), and glued on the pieces of fabric i’ve been cutting out and ripping seams out of.  i started with the seam joining the sleeve to the body of the shirt.  and then i wrapped the cut-off sleeve hem around the flippers.  the fabric was dry, and the surface free of dust, and i coated out the back of the fabric and stuck it down with my fingers.  the gel medium is thick enough so that the fabric doesn’t slip, tho i have blue tape if it does.

this is very slow work.  i’d forgotten.  i can only glue on a few little bits at a time, and then it all has to sit there and bond and dry and cure.

i mixed up a bit of apoxie sculpt, my 2-part epoxy clay, just a little tiny bit.  and roughed up the brass belt buckle, and sanded the belly of the dolphin down to  the fiberglass, and then applied the bondo to the back of the buckle and mushed the buckle onto the dolphin.  and then taped it down.  after an hour or two, even tho i could still stick a fingernail into the epoxy, i removed the tape, stuck gel medium under te web of the belt, and wrapped it around underneath the bottom of the fin, and pressed it down.  i used a bit of tape to hold it in place, and had already made sure to mark the belt line with a level so it wouldn’t look awkward later.    the bit of blue you see at the belt line is to stop the gel medium i smushed behind the belt buckle into a gap between the body and the webbing, it dripped and i kept filling it until it dried.

i went to hancock fabric yesterday and got some interlock cotton knit with the same number of ribs as the cotton collar.  it doesn’t matter that the fabric i bought was white, of course, because it’s all getting painted once it’s on.  it only matters that it’s the same sized ribbing, and the rest i can fake.

you’ll notice a little adjustment at the ankles.  i decided that the legs of our dolphin curve a bit to his right, like he’s got his hip stuck out.  it shows up in his feet also, and his right flipper is a little higher than his left.  i decided to play this up by putting one cuff lower, just a little, and drawing the shoes in slightly different as well.  these are things you have to decide on while you’re doing the prep.

this is a closeup of the feet.  you can see the shiny white stuff around the fins.  the stuff on top is a little raised bit where the leather is thicker for the eyelets, and at the bottom of the fins for where the boots have rubber treads.  i’ll be building this up a bit more.  it’s hard to do with goopy modeling paste and a palette knife at that scale.  so i’ll do several tries as it dries.  i don’t need much texture, anyway, and could easily just paint it, but i like the way it’ll look.

i’m still trying to deal with the water feature.  it’s most complicated.  as you know, i have been given a scale model built of the very same hardware store bits and pieces i’m going to use to make the rest of it with.  real soon now i’m going to take the whole model over to home depot (sorry, their prices are better than lowe’s) and get all the things i need to do what i need to do.

i can go as thin as 1/2″, which is pretty damned big for my purposes but oh well.  i can graduate it to 3/4″ and then to 1″ and 1.25″ and 1.5″.  i can see where i could use a very small amount of 1.5″ pipe on the very lowest part of the sculpture.  and i can see were the pumps and filters can it in various places on the base.  but the difficulties of installing these objects, and more importantly, tying them in so they don’t get knocked loose, overwhelm me at the moment.

which is another reason it’s going so slow.  a little bit there, a little bit here, while i work up my courage for attacking the real technical issues.

i’ll be putting the hardhat on tomorrow.  i’ve tested the spray foam insulation stuff i’m going to use.  it’s the stuff that increases in volume to fill any cracks.  it does unless you mess with it while it’s still wet.  it remains wet and ooky for awhile and you can squish it right up, meaning all that volume is only good if you don’t touch it until it’s set.  so tomorrow i’m going to fill it mostly up and then tape it down to the head of the dolphin, wiping off any oozing gook with acetone (fingernail polish, i love the smell from when i used to use it wiping graffiti off lockers, as punishment for writing graffiti on lockers.)

to keep it simple, i’m going to get finished gluing things on both dolphins before i start painting them.  my studio is going to get pretty crowded.

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