Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We just finished Windycon. I think next year I will be doing mostly mail in cons. I will update this with upcoming cons we will be mailing into. The Fur, Fins and Feathers show is going on in Urbana now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Things have been hectic lately I should really post more often. Shortly after my last post I made a mimic box to be given to Jeff of Jeff's Gameblog for his birthday. If you are unfamiliar with a mimic it is a classic D&D monster. Here is a picture from the monster manual
I put a little mouth and eye on the inside. I actually came up with a not bad method of making fish like teeth. It is a little bit time consuming but looks fairly convincing. You take translucent sculpey make your teeth, bake it then coat it in many, many layers of a clear varnish to build up a thick clear layer. 
Here is the mimic box fighting with Stuart's cat Kamali. Both parties were unharmed.

After the mimic box, I moved and had to pull apart the studio for about a month and a half.  The new studio is nice, though smaller. I've already gotten it fairly cluttered. The dragon is at around 225 hours and heading to 3 or 4 hundred. I'm also going to be doing a couple of pieces to benefit the exotic feline rescue I mentioned in the last post. I may have the first one at the next convention, and with any luck the dragon as well. I have a couple of shows underway in November. At Cinema Gallery in Urbana I'm going to be participating in the "Fur, Fins, and Feathers" show. Also, in November I will have a table at Windycon. Grace will not be participating in Windycon, as she will have just moved around that time. I will likely have some of her stuff at the table so if you are looking for her work you may still want to stop by. 

I've started the pieces for the "Fur, Fins, and Feathers" show. They will be the first two of a series of four figures with slightly animalistic features. For the vaguely bird based performer figure I thought the best finish would be a red crackle raku glaze. This is the first I've done home raku (I've done it at the university many times) so I needed to pick up some supplies. I did not have tongs to remove the hot pieces so I had to improvise; I ended up getting this giant wrench.

Here is the wrench with a normal wrench for scale. It must weigh ten pounds, I thought it would easily stand up to the 1900-degree temperatures it would need to during the Raku process. It did quite well and did not heat up much at all. They looked at me very oddly at Farm and Fleet when I picked this up. I had also gotten a large bag of pine bedding intended for horses and two sets of welding gloves for the people helping. The cashier looked at us with a look that said, "I don't know what you have in mind but it is a bad idea".  
     The firing actually went quite well.  The house did not burn down and no one was injured. If you are not familiar with raku I will explain. What we did was fire the kiln to cone 04, over 1900 degrees, then turn it off at the height of the firing cycle. Then I pulled the glowing molten pieces out with the "tongs" and threw them into a metal trashcan full of pine bedding which burst into flame on contact. Stuart and Jenn helped with the hot kiln lid and batting down the fire with trash can lid so that it would be a very fast process. It's bad for the pieces to cool to rapidly and might cause them to crack.
Here are a couple of the bits of the figure that were pulled out yesterday. I'm still sifting all of the burnt pine bedding. I think that I will have to do more of this in the future it is one of my favorite types of firings.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Exotic Feline Rescue Center

This weekend Stuart and I went to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center near Terra Haute IN. I highly recommend it if you like big cats.  These cats seem much happier and more active then other captive cats I have seen. The admission is 10 dollars and well worth it. They have about 200 cats onsite, most of them are tigers and lions, and a little over half of them are in the area visitors are allowed in.  The bobcat pictured above was very interested in people and followed us around the outside of the cage for quite a while.

I would have like to have gotten some better puma pictures but most of the pumas were crashed out in their boxes or eating at the time. I did hear one purring loudly though. I'm thinking of sculpting one soon, so it would have been nice to get some reference shots.

The center actually runs on very small budget around 300,000 a year. It was kind of amazing what they could do with it. I suspect they spend a lot of time scavenging materials given all of the large enclosures they had built.
They had quite a few groups of lions, apparently motorcycles trick lions into roaring. Every time a motorcycle passed the place several of the prides would start roaring. We had it happen twice while we were there.
This tiger may be Herman, before he was fed he was pissy and charged at us. I can say it was the first time I'd ever been charged by a 600 lb tiger.  It is hard to get an idea of scale but that thing he is eating I'm reasonably sure was a front quarter of a  cow if that gives you an idea. 

Friday, June 20, 2008


We recently got back from Duckon.  There were some very entertaining activities at the Con such as the singing Tesla coils and a birds of prey presentation. The eagle owl was very impressive, and big. As for the singing Tesla coils here is a video from last year when they only had one. This year there were two and a guy in a metal suit.

On a weird note I also had my first theft/very discounted sale at the show. From what I can tell someone hit the booth at night while the dealers room was closed and left with most of my cute cast stone vampire bats. The same person or perhaps someone else left $10 in one of my small boxes. They may have also taken a platypus. I didn't really notice until this morning when one of my roommates wanted one of the brown bats for watching the cat, and I could not find any of them. So, I did inventory and noticed an odd pattern. 

The dragon had an accident involving a cat and a hot room. I'm going to have to perform surgery to get the armature back into place, fortunately I did not lose or damage the head. I should be posting about the small cast animals and other new things soon.  Also, I will be attempting to do the Convergence (the small sci fi con not the giant goth con) artshow. I'm also entering the lottery for the Windycon dealers room. Grace will not be doing Convergence.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


This is Grace - you mostly hear from Angela on this blog, since I maintain my own at

However, I thought you might all want to know that we'll be vending at Duckon starting tomorrow evening. We'll have eyeball boxes, cute animals of all descriptions, and a whole lot of weird. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Dragon is taking a bit longer then expected. I think I'm looking at well over two hundred hours if not over three hundred.  I'm nervous to put forth another expected finish date, as this has been one of the more ambitious projects I've taken on. I will post updates here as I go and hopefully it will be ready to cast some time this summer.  I thought I would go ahead and put up some of the early progress shots.

I started off by cutting a six by six inch wax base and building a thick gauge steel wire armature. Here is a shot of the initial armature with a nickel for scale.  This turned out not to be enough support, after I got most of the wax on.  I've not worked this large in wax before and it supports itself less well then I expected it to. I think I was expecting it to act like greenware ceramic, when the wax was cold.

After I got the armature together I covered it in victory brown wax, causing it to look a bit like an undead chicken. Given recent events I'm glad I went with wax over sculpey in this case, as I'm intending to cast this guy in the platinum-based silicone rather then tin. The reason for the platinum is the shelf life, tin-based silicone gets funny and fragile after a couple of years and as detail is going to be very important with this mold I would like something that will not be prone to losing bits as it gets older.

Once I'd added about 8 pounds of wax I started to have a balance problem. I didn't have the wings on yet to create counter balance so the dragon got really top heavy. I tried adding an additional external support, this did well when it was not being worked on. I needed something  larger to stabilize it while I was working.
In the end I grabbed an old lazy Susan and drilled a one inch hole in it. I then bolted a large treaded rod to it to create a back iron. I liked the idea of a reusing this device as a back iron for other large pieces, so I decided to make the horizontal bar adjustable. I got some cast metal electrical clamps that had threading running horizontally. Next time I will just want to work the back iron into the initial armature.  I think that will be a lot stronger if it is solidly attached, but it was a little late to do that with this dragon. Here is a close up of the adjustable horizontal bar.

Once, the dragon was nicely stable I started adding finer muscle structure. I added the taxidermy eyes as I would then know what size I needed for the casts. It is also really nice to have the eyeballs difficult to damage while you are working on the lids. This applies to claws and teeth as well, though I did not add pre-harden claws and teeth in this case.

Most of my time so far has been in the detailing. It has been about ten percent building up the form and ninety percent detailing.  This is generally not the case with most sculptures. I blame the scales, so many scales.  I will likely be working on this guy at the next convention, which will be Duckon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Upsetting Sculpey

I recently purchased a new box of super sculpey, the normal pink stuff.  I just used it to make some molds of smaller stuff with platinum based silicone. I lost every single mold I used the new sculpey with the silicone just didn't cure where it touched the clay. I wonder if they added sulfur to the formula. This isn't the first time I've used super sculpey with this silicone, so it was just the new batch. I noticed it was softer then usual and smelled a little different but I didn't really question it until all of my molds failed. Not that it smells like sulfur. Has anyone else had this problem? 

Sorry about the long time between posts. I'm going to put up an update on the Dragon shortly. It is taking a bit longer then I expected.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Show at the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria

I recently picked up my work from the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria. It was not a show that I did under the Necropolis Studios name, but I thought it might be worth mentioning, and they gave me a package of pictures from the show and extra post cards.
Here is a picture of the postcards:

I really recommend the venue for anyone that might have the opportunity to show there. William the executive director, pictured on the left, was very helpful, and provided hotel rooms for all of the artists. They also put on a really nice opening with live music and sushi. The opening was a bit terrifying, for me as I tend to be a bit socially awkward. When Stuart and I got up to the building there were about 400 crows circling around in the dark a bit like a scene out of Nightwatch. I chose to take this as a good sign. When we got in we met K.A. Letts the cubist who gave me some opening pointers. She noticed that I was mostly together when talking about technique but I was very shaky when people wanted to ask about the meaning of the work. It's not that the work doesn't have meaning, but I have a really hard time discussing it and not feeling like an idiot. She suggested before any opening I come up with a three sentence script about every piece.

The other artists Beth Bojarski and Mark Winter had a long conversation with me during set up. They both had lovely collections of work and it was kind of fascinating to watch them flip in and out of professional mode. Here is a shot of some of Mark's work at the show:

I had six pieces at the show, including a 5ft figure that does not fit in my car. The big figure titled "Perennial" was sort of a 200 hour learning experience. I may have to wait a while before I try one that size again. I unfortunately have not been able to get a hold of them, but there are some great shots my family took of people talking around the sculpture that look as though it is participating in the conversation. Here is a shot of it at the show:

Here is one of the other pieces at the show, titled "Uprooted She Creeps". This one also went to Gencon with us as well.
I will likely post some of the other pictures from this show, on the blog at a later date.

Friday, February 22, 2008


This last weekend we had a table Capricon in Arlington Heights, our second science fiction convention as Necropolis Studios. Capricon was extremely well organized; they even had the room parties in the convention booklet, a daily 2 page newsletter about all of the activities that were happening last minute, and they provided food for all of the dealers. It was also the most themed con I had ever been to. The theme was pirates and you could pretty much do pirate related things every moment of the convention if you chose to.

Thing went reasonably well at the booth, we learned quite a bit and have a lot ideas about a new booth set up. We also upset our first person, apparently someone mistook "necropolis" for "necrophilia" and was unhappy we would name our studio after such an awful thing. One of the other dealers let us know as they thought it was pretty funny, we thought it was pretty funny as well. A man named David with interesting eyebrows came by and took our pictures, which he then emailed to us, which was very nice of him. We got quite a bit of art done at the con, Grace seems to be getting over her dry spell. I was working on a large dragon that I'm hoping to get casts of in April.

Here is a shot of me working on the Dragon:

Here is a shot of Grace drawing "Wearing My Nonsense Hat Again":

Here are a few pictures Grace drew at the con:

Monday, February 18, 2008

First Post

Welcome to the Necropolis Studio Art Blog. This first post is mostly to see how this service works. In the future this blog will contain information about necropolis studios, art techinques and materials, artists we like, and other assorted topics.