Thursday, October 11, 2012

Saint Alia of the Knife-Process

While I was backing up my computer I rediscovered the process pics I took in 2011 while making a small figure of Saint Alia of the Knife. She is a powerful girl first introduced in the novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Alia was born fully aware and is the younger sister of Maud'Dib, the "savior" and self-imposed ruler of spacefaring humankind. There is a lot more to this character so go read the entire series of books-they're recommended!

This is the step-by-step process I used to create this piece:

STEP ONE- Gathering Materials
I didn't sketch anything in advance for Alia, this project was only for fun so I let serendipity sort of dictate how the figure was going to look in the end.  I knew I wanted something similar to her David Lynch movie look so I gathered a palette of blacks/greens (the colors of House Atreides) and other odd bits and ends that might come in handy as I dressed the figure later on.
These are the materials I ended up using:
Paperclay, translucent sculpey, craft styrofoam, heavy gage wire, a selection of pre-mixed craft paints, black fabric, a scrap piece of furniture fabric, a scrap piece of leather, a rock, doll hair, thread, two glass beads, seed beads, matte medium, and super glue.

STEP TWO - Making the Support Structure for the Figure
I thought the rock I used for the base looked like something Alia might stand high upon to survey the desert.  Based on that notion I cut the heavy gage wire to make a stick figure with childlike proportions.  I then took small chunks of styrofoam and super glued those to the wire to bulk out the form.  Once that was done I bent and twisted the support into a pose I liked and marked the two areas on the rock where I would eventually glue the finished figure.

STEP THREE - Sculpting the Figure
To sculpt Alia's body I added paperclay directly onto the support, there's no need to add glue or wrap a smaller gage wire to provide grip. When I had a rough approximation of the face I pushed in two blue glass beads for her eyes (because she is a spice addict) and added paperclay on top to create the eyelids. After I finished the basic form I used a potter's needle and loops to add in the fine details. It took about 24 hours for the figure to fully dry. In the pic below I've already started to add color into the face. Also at the bottom of the pic in front of the mechanical pencil is Alia's crysknife made out of translucent scupley and "aged" with craft paint.

STEP FOUR - Painting the Figure
I used a selection of craft paints to paint Alia.  I wasn't sure where I was going to glue in her fabric robes so I decided to paint the entire figure. Better to do that then try and remix colors if I missed a spot. I painted an Atreides Hawk on her right shoulder and a stylized "A" on her left. Because she was in a dessert I added dustiness to her boots that matched the color of the rock. I wanted to make sure it looked like her and the rock were from the same environment.

STEP FIVE - Glueing on the Details
To finish the figure I super glued black fabric that was stiffened with matte medium onto the body to create Alia's robes, a scrap piece of leather and furniture fabric for her belt, thread and seed beads for her lasso, and braided doll hair. Once the costume was complete I went back and made a final pass with craft paint to blend all the elements together.  The finished figure is approximately 5" high and 2-1/2" wide from front-to-back.

Saint Alia of the Knife was entered in the 2011 Crafts Competition at the OC Fair.  I ended up winning Second place in my division-not bad for a little project I did for fun.

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