Angry Little Kabuki

I have quite a few blank vinyl figures lying around my house. I do custom commissions and it's always nice to have a "surface" ready on hand, so I have a healthy backstock, usually.

 

So this friend started arranging the little toys in different scenarios and at some point, he put a little sky blue "Foomi" on top of a "Blockhead" figure. There were several visits like this, where he would seek out these two little figures, and arrange them as such.  He offered at one point, in jest, that he would be interested in buying them from me, at cost, blank because he liked the silhouette and the color combination. My dissapointment must have been clear on my face because he quickly retracted this idea and proposed instead, that the little blue Foomi  should be -and I'm pulling directly from my commission notes- angry, Kabuki, rage, whirlwind, and the black Blockhead would be his lumbering steed.

 

Now, I'm sure that there is many an artist that would just run at this, full force, no nevermind to doing any sort of research. That's fine. That's just not how I handle commission projects. I have a weird passion for detail collection.  I spent some time researching Kabuki makeup and how these terms that were given to me in reference to what he wanted conveyed by his piece. I then designed the Kabuki figure considering the information and imagery I had collected.

 

The Blockhead figure wasn't officially commissioned for quite a while. When he finally did decide he wanted the Mario Brother's poison mushroom on each of the faces, he said he wanted each of the faces to be slightly different. Still the same image, but clearly "hand-done" and "not-stenciled" and "non-uniform." When I asked for clarification, and suggested some warping on each face, my client became excited.  

 

I sealed the two pieces with a matte varnish. This finish is similar to an eggshell and minimizes brush strokes. The client did not want the two pieces to be separate so he didn't have to display them always together.

 

He was particularly happy with the piece, he told me, because I did go the extra mile and spent some time doing some research instead of just "spitting some paint at the things and handing it to him the next day." 

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A Wedding Dream

My dear friend Harmony had a lot of hopes and wishes for her wedding. I'm pretty sure if you asked her about how she felt about it now, almost two years later, she'd still say it was at least in her top five. 

Harmony always had a vision about what her dress would look like - most girls probably do - and the resounding factor that she felt she needed, all other details aside, had to do with a color detail. She wanted the bottom six inches and the entirety of her train to be "Happy sunshine yellow."  She wanted her dress to be different, and uniquely hers, despite it's really shallow price tag. So she found a dress for inexpensive that looked lovely on her, and started asking around and searching the internet for a DIY project that would fit her needs. But, alas, Google let her down, and the results came back as a resounding "No, you CANNOT do that without ruining your bargain satin dress in a way that would make it unwearable."  It was theorized that because she couldn't get the satin wet (because you can't really get satin wet with out ruining it) to remove fabric dye, she would effectively turn her legs yellow, have a crusty, stiff dress and it would just look like garbage.

She asked "fiber" friends, people who crafted their lives around fabrics, embroidery and dying - actually not that few and far between in Kansas City - and they all came back with, "No, I really can't think of a way to do that without ruining your wedding dress."

One night, while getting set up for an involved board game over at Harmony's house, she posed the question to me, a painter, how do you change the color of the last six to eight inches of a satin dress without actually getting it wet?  And then Harmony won a round of Catan, because I was so distracted with wrapping my head around this artsy problem. I just kept coming back to, "if you spill or bust a pen on a wedding dress, it's ruined.... right?"  By the end of the week, I had concocted several mixes of acrylic mediums, inks, and just the right amount of water and was testing spray effects and brush effects on some of the satin left over from the alterations on Harmony's dress.  I found (by found, I mean I mixed, sprayed, brushed, dripped and drizzled) a combination of ink and specific acrylic mediums and water that held onto the satin without warping it, making the satin stiff, and didn't rub off the satin when touched.  I tried about 25 different combinations of a multitude of media before finding the perfect effect we ended up applying to the dress. I actually almost had to throw in the towel, because I found the right mix on the last scrap of scrap she had given me.

The only people who know what went in that spray bottle are Harmony and me, and she recently confided in me that she couldn't remember any of what was used to make this happen. "Ila showed up with these spray bottles full of yellow liquid the consistency of milk. I taped up the room with tarps while Ila painstakingly taped off the line on the dress and fanned the train across the room on coat hangers and string. We then evenly misted the dress while wearing respirators that made us feel like a couple of Storm Troopers."

 

I can guarantee you that I could recreate this happening (the colored edge and train of a wedding dress, not the amazingness that was Harmony's wedding). If you would like me to do so, I can, for a price. I feel strongly that the mix of mediums, ink, and ratios therein are a trade secret that I cannot give away for free. 

 

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