Thursday, November 10, 2005

Luck's Dancer

The short story is this: Neil Gaiman commissioned me to make a sculpture to fit a niche in his stairway wall. I did. Last year, in a somewhat slapstick fashion, (go here for his version:) he broke it. He sent it to me to be repaired and I looked at it for a long time and decided to make some changes. I’d just read his draft of Anansi Boys, and was under the influence of a different color scheme..muse?

When I was finished, the sculpture looked more like this:

The longer story of the ‘reconstruction’ and more photos are in my journal archives, beginning here: Angel's new clothes
Lots of people seemed to fall in love with the little yellow dancing jester, whom the frog was forever trying to snare with his umbrella and whom we began to call "Luck's Dancer."

I thought I'd like to have a casting of the little Luck's Dancer for myself and that others might too. And then, my friend Laura asked me out of the blue to make one for her. I considered sculpting another dancer that would be simpler to mold and cast, but, being me, I decided that: #1 Neil’s fans (and mine) would most likely rather have an actual casting from the original . And #2 I, being even more me, couldn’t pass up the challenge of molding such a complex figure (which, by the way, was not harmed in the very least, and is restored back to his original place in the universe of torturing the frog, looking even more delicious than before. )

It's the most difficult single-piece mold Ben and I have ever made. We began with a long session of sitting and talking about it, turning the delicate figure (the original is made of paper clay, which is basically blended paper mache) this way and that to imagine its mass as negative space. And, with that, imagining how liquid would flow into it and where air might be trapped, which is exactly what we had to avoid. This is part of the science of the whole business, and something we enjoy quite a lot, though it can leave one with a headache. That done, we decided the best approach would be to create channels that connect pieces to the surface (so air could escape) and to connect dead ends to other spaces. As you may imagine, air inside molds is a thing we try very hard to avoid, as it wreaks all sorts of havoc in castings. And we can't have havoc, as the SlaughterHouse motto says, "Nothin' can go wrong now!"

Opened up, the rubber mold looks like this:

The figure comes out of the mold looking sort of like this, with all the sprues attached.

I cut those off and smooth everything up and with lots of layers of paint, transform the little figure into something that feels real to me. The molding and the cleaning up are sort of the ‘day job’. It’s the painting that's fun and creative, where each figure takes on its own personality. In this case "he" as this little guy is most definitely a boy.

If you like "Luck's Dancer" and are feeling adventurous you can choose SURPRISE ME and get a truly unique treatment. Each will be a one of a kind finish. Fun for you, fun for me.

Ravyn has wonderfully created
Holiday Gifts for "Luck's Dancer" and a few other pieces we especially picked for gift giving.

This is a good step for Slaughterhouse. Thanks for looking and hope you have fun. Oh, and Happy Winter Season from Lisa, Ben and the SlaughterHouse Rats...

OH! While I have your attention---we still have a few more spaces left for TINY STORIES, the project. Bob Podrasky is in the editing ( fagblog: Reading Tiny Stories )phase .


K said...

Have I really only been coming here since February? It seems, in the nicest way, like years. But that was indeed the link on NG's website that I followed.

"Our little rats get awfully tired after midnight..." So that's how the tiny detailing is achieved. Tiny paws. Please don't work them too hard!

Anonymous said...


I am so glad I followed the link here from Neil Gaiman's livejournal.

Lisa: your work is absolutely stunning and as soon as I have a stable income I'm buying one of everything! (LOL)

Seriously -- incredible work. I look forward to seeing more.

Anonymous said...

Good Job! :)

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Unknown said...

I've also followed a link from Gainman's blog, I was curious about the statue from the nook in the stairwell and the reparation of it.

However, the pictures are all broken, can that be fixed? I'd love to see the making Luck's Dancer and the Angels new clothes.