Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Solution in Search of a Problem

When I need to relax there are few things more rewarding than melting things with a heat gun.

Today I was goofing off with a spare pool noodle and tried slashing it across it's width with a razor knife before gently melting the surface.  The result was a really interesting ridged texture interspersed with bubbly gaps.  Here are a couple of shots I squeezed off before my camera decided to call it quits.  The piece is about 13" long and roughly 2 inches in diameter.

It's a really bizarre organic effect, but I'm not quite sure what it would be good for at this point.  If I was still into tabletop miniatures this would be ideal for some quick and easy Tyranid-syle terrain pieces.  With a nice three tone paintjob and some strands of clear epoxy it would have an awesome, gooey appearance.

It would be great for some kind of tentacle or tendril, but I need to figure out how to taper the effect along the length of the noodle.  The one I was using had a hole running through the middle, so melting it down to a point wasn't possible.  If I can get my hands on some solid pool noodles without a hole I think the technique has some real possibilities.


Dromicosuchus said...

As it is, it reminds me a lot more of some sort of plant growth than it does an animal; an alien tree trunk, perhaps. Hm. I wonder if you'd get a similar effect if you slashed it parallel to the pool noodle's length, rather than at right angles to it? As it is, I'm not sure how appropriate for a tentacle it would be, given that a tentacle would need to have plenty of muscles/tendons/what have you running lengthwise along the limb in order to allow it to curl properly. If you could get the same pseudo-webbed effect along the noodle's length, it might end up looking very spiffy indeed.

Anonymous said...

Possibly the greatest opening line ever written.

Raven said...

For tapering to a point: heating and stretching segment-by-segment might work, before texturing the surface in this very interesting way. (That would keep the concentric hollow also stretched-and-tapered, proportionately.) The hollows would actually be useful for armatures, either wire still-figure or jointed/pulleyed and thus animated.

I presume you could have graduated metal forms (measuring cups?) to heat for molding suckers along the side, as an option, although that would resemble an Earthly sea-creature and perhaps avoiding that resemblance is the better choice.

Propnomicon said...

@ Dromicosuchus

I haven't tried different patterns yet, but I think you're right about it producing some interesting effects. I plan on doing some more experiments later today.

@ gndn

I am a simple man, with simple pleasures. Heh.

@ Raven

I hadn't considered the stretching approach. I'll definitely need to pick up some sturdy gloves for that. The polyethelene foam is surprisingly good at holding heat.

Unknown said...

I'm somewhat reminded of the body of sea anemone. In shorter sections they could be part of some prop or costume attached to it still. Using it as the trunk portion of a giant Chaugnar Faugh statue could also work.

CoastConFan said...

There’s some really good possibilities there for prop making. They certainly look like stalks of some alien creature or something closer to home. One thing that comes to mind are crinoid fossils which can be old as the Paleozoic Era half a billon years ago. When I was young, I used go out and collect fossils and crinoids were plentiful. Crinoids are pretty hardy as some types continue to survive today, making them one of the oldest life forms around. Crinoids remind me of some of the Haeckel prints that so influenced a young H. P. Lovecraft. Haeckel is specifically mentioned in Herbert West -- Reanimator

An argument on the impact of Haeckel’s prints on Weird Stories and SF writing

Another lovely from Ernst Haeckel’s Kuntsformen der Natur

frykitty said...

I can picture this painted up and used en masse on the walls of a room in a haunt. It could be the inside of an organic alien spaceship.

Joe Givan said...

Perhaps sculpting it down with an electric carving knife first? Maybe filling the end with expanding foam insulation before melting? Just a thought….

Unknown said...

AH HAH! This would be perfect for Eye stalks of an Elder Thing!!! Also the tentacle like arm/hands of the Elder Thing. smaller types of this foam is found (without a center hole) at HomeDepot/Lowes in the window insulation dept. Happy day! I found the parts I was looking for... :-)