Friday, December 7, 2012

Shark Attack

I recently flew down to Florida to work on an Outdoor Channel show called "Lived to Tell". True stories about amazing survivals. The first a story of a man lost in the Everglades for four days then two shark attacks.

Most of the makeups were out of kit, but there were a few pros-aide transfer pieces I sculpted for each of the shark attack stories. In one story, a boy tries to fight the shark off by punching it in the face to only severely cut his hands on the sharp teeth. The other a large shark bite for the upper thigh, where the victim was bit.

For both shark stories the makeups and prosthetics had to withstand the long days and ocean water. Happily, all the prosthetics and makeup lasted through hours in the ocean.

Our Everglades survivor. Makeup done with theatrical dirt, tattoo inks and Fleet Street blood.

Pros-aide transfer gashes on hands. Painted with tattoo inks and Fleet Street blood.

The victim after the attack, dragged to shore. We used a marine friendly blood made of fruit punch concentrate, imitation maple syrup and karo syrup. Delicious!

The fiberglass shark.

Early morning application on our picture boat. This is a large pros-aide transfer appliance. Our actor playing the victim is the actual real life person who was attacked by a bull shark. Not only did the appliance need to look like the bite but it had to cover the huge scar on our heroes thigh.

Attack!! Shark and shark "wranglers".

The bite.

The bite with more blood. I filled the "gash" in with Ben Nye thick blood and Fleet Street drying blood in Fresh Blood. This seemed to be the best combination of bloods to stay on in our very wet environment. We of course added tons of our homemade blood as well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Studio

Since moving into our (my sister and my) fantastic new studio space there has not been a dull moment. Not only can I take on larger fabrication projects, but also many more projects at once. Here are a few things that have been happening this past month.
Brow prosthetic for a Prometheus Engineer for Comic Con NYC

Final Engineer makeup

"Sloth" from the Goonies prosthetic for Halloween

Sculpt and mold for prosaide transfers
More on this project soon!


Last October I had the pleasure of Department Heading the film Sinister starring Ethan Hawke. Here are a few stills from the film. 

The wonderful folks over at Todd Master FX handled most of the big makeup effects. I did get my hands bloody a few times. Here I used Fleet Street bloods and Mehron bloods with a little Skin Illustrator as the base color.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Crash Test Dummy

I have been meaning to post this for a while as this fabrication happened back in September. I was asked to remake and alter a crash test dummy head and hands to resemble those from a vintage 1950's dummy. The client was interested in the look of the vintage dummy but needed something that would withstand extreme impact. 

There were many factors to consider other than just a cosmetic remake of a head and hands. First of all the parts that I would be making needed to be able to attach to a rented crash test dummy body. Also, the dummy would be impacting at 90 mph and the parts would need to stay together during the impact. In addition I needed to change the skin color of the dummy. The new ones were to be dark brown red instead of the more yellow caucasian flesh color of the original vintage dummy.

I needed strong and durable materials that I would be able to tint.

To start, I made a "life cast" of the original dummy head. Then I made a cast in clay using Chavant NSP, (melted and brushed in and reinforced with burlap). I was then able to resculpt the mouth in an open position to match that of the vintage dummy.

A new mold of the head was then made out of silicone rubber and Plasti Paste. To cast the head I decided to use Task 16, a urethane rubber by Smooth-On.

The Task 16 was tinted and roto-cast by hand inside the head to a thickness of about a half an inch. I then used Flex Foam V to fill the rest of the head making sure that the foam didn't fill the neck. The foam added structural support without adding too much weight to the final product. I then filled the neck area with a little more Task 16 and let that cure.

The original head attached to the dummy body via a bolted on metal bracket. I needed to make sure that the new head would be able to attach in the same way.

I drilled out large holes to inset three standoffs--fittings that thread from the inside (purchased from mc master carr) into the cast head. Using a cast of the bracket (that I had molded earlier and cast in Smooth Cast 300) I attached the standoffs with machine screws and placed them in the drilled holes. I filled the holes with a little Task and once that cured I took the bracket off and added more Task around the top of the fittings.

The hands were much simpler because I did not have to alter them. They just needed to match the skin tone of the newly cast head. Silicone and Plasti Paste two part molds were made of each hand. They were then cast in solid Task 16 rubber tinted with with same Flesh colored So Strong pigment.

Once the Task cured rubber I had to cut away and drill out of the wrist area so it could attach with the existing hardware of the crash test dummy.

After everything had been cast my client decided that it needed ears (after my sculpture, sans ears was approved. The 1950's version had ears, the new versions do not.) So I did a quick sculpt of simple ears, molded them with body double, and cast in them in tinted Task 16. The ears attached to the head with Task 16.

Next, the head just needed a little paint to match the vintage version. Pupils, eyebrows and some hair.

Just a few days later the dummy was shot in black and white with a high speed camera, and looked (and worked) perfectly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Campaign for Wool, Bryant Park - New Business Ventures

September was a busy month for Amelia and I. We were asked to design and build a few key elements for the Campaign for Wool event on September 27th in Bryant Park. There were many components to this event. We were responsible for creating a fence to house 30 sheep for the day, transforming the fountain into a wooly sculpture, and wrapping 13 trees in brightly colored wool. 

From budget approval to final product we had just under three weeks to get complete and install our work. We were able to move into a new studio just in time to get started. Spark Workshop Brooklyn is now home to our new joint ventures and individual businesses.  


The fence was collaboratively conceived. We were asked to design the fence using clear plexiglass panels. The concept was to put the sheep on display as opposed to a farm or petting zoo. 

We had the added challenge of building the fence so that it would be easily constructed on site within a limited timeframe. We also wanted the fence to break down and pack up for use on other sites. 

A final challenge was that due to park regulations, we were unable to put anything into the ground. 

We came up with a modular design that used dados, grooves, posts, and concrete blocks to create a secure and stable structure. 

We hired local woodworker, Iris Lasson, to fabricate the wood posts and railings

We cast over forty concrete bases in reusable molds 

The post cap became a key structural element 

We were able to take more creative control with the fountain. Our concept was to highlight the beautiful fountain by making wool fiber seem like water. 

We built wooden structures out of plywood and then wrapped them in wool fabric so that we were easily able to attach wool fiber. 

Here are images of the fountain installation:

The event was one day only. We came in the evening to take everything down and pack up what needed to be shipped for future events. 

Check out this link (one of many) to read about the event: 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cradle, the exhibition

A few images of Cradle at the gallery.

Creature Mask

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to exercise that part
of my brain where I really get to run wild with a creature design. With
scripted notes and a meeting with the director, I quickly came up with a
few concept drawings.
Once we felt we had a basic idea in mind, I rendered a 3D
model in this amazing iPad app called 123D. It's free, and while it
doesn't do everything it is a great way to further visualize a design before I
started sculpting.
The actor playing the creature is 6 foot 10, so a life cast
was definitely necessary. The cast was done with smooth-on body double and plaster bandages. It was then cast, first with a urethane shell,
using smooth-on's fast-set shell shock, then filled with a rigid foam.
Any imperfections in the cast were chiseled down and sanded.
Or filled in with Magic Smooth (a two-part epoxy that can be smoothed with
water, then sanded when dry), and plumbers epoxy. Because I only had about
two weeks to complete the sculpture, I ended up sculpting the mask in a soft oil based
clay. It took about four days to complete the sculpture. I used some Saran Wrap
against the clay with a needle tool over the wrap for most of the wrinkle
texture. To get the numbers etched into the left side of the mask I made a
stencil. Using a small loop tool, clay was sculpted away, keeping the size and
font consistent.
For the mold, the dividing wall was built with WED clay.
Then a few layers of shell shock and a thick layer of Plasti Paste were
used for the mold. After the mold was cleaned out, an injection hole and vent holes
were drilled in the back of the head. The mold was put back together around the life
cast, and strapped shut.
I made some color samples for the director to approve. Ultimately we
went with pale skin with just a touch of silver flocking to give the skin an eerie pallor.
Small batches of Ecoflex silicone with fuse fx pigment and flocking
were mixed up and injected into the mold. After the silicone cured and was
demolded there was a fair amount of seaming to do. Using platgel 10 silicone
and some Saran Wrap I was able to make most of the seams disappear.
Fuse fx colors and alcohol activated makeups were used to paint
the mask. I kept a very precise log of every layer of paint since my
friend Joe Amella made the suit that our creature will be wearing. He will be
able to follow the painting scheme exactly.
Our actor was very pleased to have such a comfortable mask to wear. For me, it was great to finally see it on during the fitting.