hats again, still

what do you do if it doesn’t work the first time?  quit.

no, just kidding.  this is the second time around gluing a hat down to a fiberglass dolphin.  the first time, i tried to stick it to his head with spray foam insulation, and it didn’t work, because it didn’t cure.  this time i turned the damned thing over and filled it into the air, and it worked much better, after not curing because i am still not following directions.  so there.  but it’s going well.

the cured foam inside the hat was cut out with a mat knife, until it fit snugly on his head, and then i mixed up some two-part epoxy and stuck it into the hollow of the cap and then in between the space between cap and head.  and the same for the hardhat dolphin, no matter i tried to put it on the head, it still ended up with a quarter to a half inch of putty between the hat and the head.  i did try to stick it flush on the head, promise i did.  but somehow it never stayed that way.  it’s kind of hard carving negative space, the negative curve of the top of your head, for example.  the anti-dome.

and then i put the blue strap with the vice closure, and cranked it tight around the cap, smushing it down onto the head until the putty dried.

there’s the putty, those wormy things on his back.  a large tablespoonful of part a, and an equal amount of part b, careful not to let the spoon contaminate part b (which i don’t bother being really careful, just no contaminating chunks, okay), and five minutes of kneading in my hands, after which it’s clay-soft, and my hands are coated with white epoxy which won’t come off with soap and water, or oil.  i didn’t try acetone, orange oil, turpentine, mineral spirits, or alcohol, because i couldn’t have been bothered, and it’s still there the next day, and tho my palms itched something horrible at one point during the night, they haven’t bothered me since, even tho my palms are still gray and flaky 24 hours later.  i’m such a testing ground.

once i had the hat strapped down, and pressure on the putty, i went around with more putty and did the edges.  my theory is that edges are where water gets in and items get ripped off figures’ heads.  so on that theory, i’m going around sealing all the edges, in this case, around the hat and with putty, smoothed with a wet finger.  what doesn’t show in these pictures is the fact that i’ve yet again gone around with the modeling paste and beaded all the fabric edges on all the glued on fabric.  that’s several times now, obscuring pickable edges with a layer of acrylic.

so, let’s see, hat, clothes, i even stuck the home depot badge on in the place where the  badges go.  i need to get any award pins that might be available and stick them on, which means calling the sponsor tomorrow, and then i’m ready to move to the next stage, the base, and i’m putting that off for now.

my real trouble is the hat.

the hat is stuck on with putty, which is rock hard now.  there are still air holes in the hat, and i’m probably going to have to cut into the fabric of the hat with a razor blade, open the space up, and fill it with molding paste.  otherwise the air hole will wobble and collapse under pressure, and the topcoat will crack, and water will get in, and air, and ruin the sculpture in no time.  so i have to make a hard, unyielding surface to be topcoated, and can’t have any soft spots.  just another step that’s absolutely necessary and without which i’d be a fool to proceed.  in construction they call this the critical path.

the hat brim is the problem i’m concerned with the most.  i’ve got putty solidly between brim and forehead up to about two inches from the edge of the brim.  that means the brim is resting on top of the putty base.  all but for the last two inches.  which is a good hand hold width for ripping the whole hat off the head.

which is a real concern.  a planning issue.  and i don’t want to be the one they come back to, with its hat in their hands, after some midtown hoodlum goes poking around after hours.  so how to protect the hat?

my first instinct is to use fiberglass.  the sheet of fiberglass cloth and bottle of resin, got to do it outdoors after the fucking thaw, stinky toxic kind of fiberglass.  using fiberglass on top of the brim and draping it around the side of the head, like a layer of hair, would make the hat one with the dolphin.  it would be fierglass – cotton – fiberglass with a coat of primer, paint, and two different topcoats.  that might be a little more difficult to rip off.

or am i going too far?  what would the girls at cowpainters advise?  wwcd?

so i think i’ll turn my attention to something else and let that sit for awhile.  maybe it’ll solve itself.  it often does.  fairies are awesome, aren’t they?

i told jim how intimidated i felt about starting on the pipes for the mckenney’s dolphin.  i mean, once i start cutting into the 8-foot lengths of pvc pipe, then i’ve got cut lengths, and while you can always cut a length shorter, it’s hard to cut it longer, as jim reminds me, as if he’d made that up himself.  so i’ve been hesitating.  i know i need more connectors, and i need connectors i can join directly to other connectors, which means the screw-end ones, which i don’t have.  so i’ve been hesitating.

jim told me all i needed was a bunch of sticks i could use in place of the pipes, and some plastolene to stick it all together temporarily.  and i hapened to have a bunch of old bamboo garden sticks moldering in the yard so that and a pair of utility shears and i’m good.

so i ran out to home depot and filled a plastic bucket full of pvc pipe fittings in 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1/5″ widths.  eighty bucks’ worth.  that, and the receipt will get me what i need.  most of it’s going back, and this is the second crate full o’pipe fittings i’ve got on my floor now, nearly a hundred dollars in pvc that’s mostly going back thank god.

i started this evening, it’s a wonder i got anything at all done today, it was that kind of day.  but i sat down with a cup of coffee, a pencil, a crate o’parts and a ball of plastolene (clay), in front of my dolphin.  didn’t use the clay.

i had already mapped out a possible place for a connected set of 90 degree curves in the 1.5″ pipe, which is starting at that knob on the bottom right and curving over next to te ball of clay.

i started at the protein skimmer.  the plastic bottle will fit next to the dolphin’s leg, and so i started positioning parts around it.  there’ll be a 1/2″ pipe draining the bottle at the bottom, and it will go, using a 90 degree angle connector and a 45 degree connector, underneath the 1.5″ pipe.   then it turns right and goes alongside and underneath the 1.5″ pipe, around the back of the base.  complicated, and it’s only the first pipe fitting.

my plan is to build it from the large pipes (on the bottom) down to the smallest pipes at the top, but i don’t know.  there’s nowhere at the bottom of the base to put big pipes, and i’m pretty much limited to two segments of the largest pipe.  not connected to anything, just coming out of the base and going back into the base, like the knob at the bottom of the picture above.

but if i do it right, i will have every pipe securely glued all over the place to the pipes underneath, above, and next to them, and puttied to the base of the statue.  i was thinking of building a skeleton out of rebar, but i’d have more trouble securing that to the base than i would gluing things down securely.  so.

i’m much less daunted now that i have four of every type of connector, and sticks of any length.  i can build it and keep track of connectors to get, and take everything else back, and be happy.

however.  xmas is coming, and i’ve been putting off making the presents i know i want to make.  so i’m going to stop now, at least, slow down, and divert my attention to more expedient things.

which i’ll continue to cover right here.

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