it’s several weeks since i finished fixing my dolphin, but i’m only now getting around to completing the documentation because i’ve got another project hot on its heels and want to get to it. thus the housekeeping.
i will miss the folks at mckenney’s. they’re such a microcosm, such a fun bunch of engineers and their support teams. engineers are a special bunch, and i really enjoyed talking to the ones who noticed me sitting on the floor in the lunchroom.
altho i’d removed most of the yellowed acrylic topcoat from the hat, i had to be extra special careful around the logo, because i wasn’t sure how it had originally been applied. i got the hat from mckenney’s, and don’t know what went into the logo – was it a sticker, was it silkscreened, was it somehow baked into the plastic? who can tell without research? so while i still used the same flat-bladed scraper, i was much more gingerly around the lettering, and only scraped it in tiny places that won’t be noticed. the picture shows the before condition. i’m not showing you the scratches.
when i was last there, i worked up some putty in the shape of the handles that some kids wrenched off the sculpture when it was sitting out in the main waiting area in front of the aquarium, where millions of kids tried to break it. which for sure i would have done if i were still a kid. i would have tried my damnedest to twist off some part of anything i found in public. it was my job as a kid. hell, i still go around and twist things to see if they’re loose. anyway, i made replacement handles out of epoxy putty last time, and stuck them on top of the putty container and left them, which is why the color and lettering on the one on the right. so this time i peeled them off and mixed up a smaller lump of putty, on the bottom left, to glue them on with. i took the picture of the fresh putty while i was still mixing it. you can see bands of lighter and darker gray. it wouldn’t harden right if i left it like that, in case you’re interested.
here i’ve stuck half of the resulting lump of mixed putty on top of the built-up surface, which is the gray knob underneath the lump. i built the knob up a few sessions ago, and now i’m gluing the replacement handle on with this new lump of putty.
you can see the new handle in place, still light gray, between the dark gray pump on the left and the dark gray piping on the right.
and here is the replacement handle, along with the knob and the lump, painted the same cadmium red as all the other handles and turnscrews and connector thingies..
next step was to paint everything. like the old navy rule. so i mixed up a dark gray out of black and white (duh, tho there are many ways to mix a gray), and went around to all the midsized pipes and hit them with gray. later i came back in and hit all the bumps and scrapes of the base with the same gray, to be covered over when i touched up the waves. there were a lot of damaged bits, where the sculpture had been slung around by movers or whanged by kids.
the larger pipes had already been painted with an even darker gray. the clamps were painted a lighter gray that i also used on the dolphin’s skin.
lots of pipes. what looks like white – the smallest pipes – are painted silver, and really show up in natural light. same for the flange bolts in the black flanges, and all the screws and fittings.
the mid gray went all over the dolphin’s skin. this is a flipper. there’s also his tail, and the back of his neck. i came in with the lighter gray that went under his mouth, and painted the front of the fin lighter than the back. it seems i was a little sloppy with the edges, riding the gray up over the shirt’s blue, but i would have come back in with blue later to correct it. or not. closeup there are no hard edges.
when i started on the repair, i found they’d stuck a pair of safety glasses on my dolphin. i’d already considered and rejected this idea, because there was no way to firmly secure the glasses; the stems were too flimsy. so i didn’t do it. and it was the right choice, because they would have been ripped right off while they were on public display. but in the confines of mckenney’s dining room, i think it’s safe to do, so first i tried liquid nails, but the glue didn’t want to stick, so i peeled it off and mixed up a little putty, and built it up around the earpiece and the indentation around the nose. that was last time; this time i painted it gray.
you’ll notice the coloring around the eye and along the bottom of the chin. it’s way lighter than the coloring on the back of the dolphin, so they look sky-colored when seen from below and depths-colored when seen from above. and there’s just no easy way to match that when repairing him. so i had to repaint the skin on my dolphin. i did this with a makeup sponge. pat pat pat pat. you can see how uneven it looks at first.
but as i continued to pat color on, it got thicker and less splotchy, and finally looked okay closeup, and just fine at a distance.
then it was time to paint the rest of him. because of the yellowed acrylic topcoat (which so should have been covered by a professional auto topcoat), all the colors were gross and disgusting. faded, yellowed, just yucky. so i had to repaint the whole thing before i was satisfied. but it wasn’t as much work as it sounded, because all i really needed to do was to glaze the existing colors with thin coats of stronger color, just to cover the gray. the two boxes are all my acrylics. i didn’t use hot sauce or pepper, and that’s my coffee and cheese toast in the background. in the cup to the left are the various blues of the shirt – cerulean and pthalo and ultramarine and a little black. the pigments are all transparent, especially when thin, and i simply brushed on a thin coat, brushed it out, and left it to dry.
see nice blue now.
see nice thin coat of raw umber and yellow ochre with white.
see nice cerulean skimmers
and the lovely prussian blue waves. all these are thin coats of glaze color, unifying the forms and hiding the flaws.
and here he is, all repaired. every little piece of him has been gone over, repainted, rebuilt.
even his badge and his phone and the georgia tech pin have been repinted, with very tiny brushes and a steady hand.
i just love this dolphin. i have a clipping from their newsletter that shows him set up at a job fair, so i guess they’re using him as a mascot. there’s nothing more gratifying than to see something you’ve really put some time into being appreciated and loved.
thanks, mckenney’s for letting me be involved with your family in such a special way.