Saturday, December 22, 2012

Being the Remains of a Witche

Barry John brings us a memento of merry old England- the left hand and heart of an executed witch.

The grungy, dark brown finish of a mummified body part is devilishly hard to get right. Based on my own experience the best way to do it is a traditional three color shadow-base-highlight paint job followed by multiple coats of a translucent coloring agent. For the tinting wash I've come to rely on a mixture of furniture paste wax and powdered pigment, but I've seen some very nice pieces done with artists ink or plain old shellac.


Phil said...

Quite excellent. And the brief technique explaination was just icing on the cake.

Seems like its been awhile since you've shared a "How its done" entry with us.

Propnomicon said...

@ Phil

I've been fiddling around with doing retro-style gaffs with paper mache and don't have a lot to show for it, unfortunately.

Most of the problem is disappointment with my own sculpting skills. Over the course of about two weeks I've been trying to do a convincing mummified finger. In concept it seems relatively easy, but getting the details of the nail bed, joint wrinkles, and the bone at the base right is taking multiple iterations.

I don't mind showing work that's mediocre, but when I'm so close to getting it right I'd rather hold off until the final product looks good.

Barry John said...

Thank you very much for the post. I really do appreciate it. I'm a religious propnomicon reader. This made my day! :-)

Propnomicon said...

@ Barry John

The pleasure is mine. It's a wonderful piece.

Angus said...

Have you tried to build it anatomically?
Hard center bone, cotton wool flesh, twisted for tendons, covered in tissue paper or toilet paper?
Once you have enough thickness on the tip, you can cut the nail fold with a thin blade, and push the nail folds with a thin tool.

It didn't work too badly for me, but I can understand that you'd want better than that.

Rhissanna said...

Oh! Very nice. And good luck with the finger sculpting. They're buggers to draw.

Phil said...


I can understand your problem all too well. I've got a finger sittign sealed up in a bottle thats been on hold for ages for pretty much the same reason.
In the meantime, I'm working on trying to get an interesting skin texture on a thing in a box. It's been darned difficult trying to get the various tones to blend. Of course, I'm like you in that no matter how much work I put it it's never quite good enough.