Friday, December 26, 2014

You knew this was coming

 A few years ago, I was infected with an idea WAY beyond my means, tenacity or creativity:  collating the entirety of Arthurian mythology into a cohesive comic series.  Well, obviously, that wasn't gonna happen, but I figured I'd put the idea out anyway.

Left:  Actually, to me "King Arthur" is Graham Chapman, but he wouldn't have fit the tone of the story.

Right:  Gwenhwyfar ferch Ogrfan Gawr 
Drwg yn fechan, gwaeth yn fawr. 
"Gwenhwyfar, daughter of Ogrfan Gawr,
Bad when little, worse when great."

If my Arthur looks familiar to you, you probably need no explanation about whom Guinevere's design is cribbed from.

Left to right:  Lancelot, Mordred, Gawain and Bedivere.  I meant for Gawain to look young yet steely, instead I think he looks like an unlikeable teen pop star.  Mordred is my favorite; it wasn't my intention, but he's basically an older Christopher Robin.  I could never settle on a good design for Lancelot, but I knew Bedivere was to have a moustache.

Enemies!  The two on the left are a couple designs for Ælle, king of the South Saxons - the kingdom that later became Sussex.  The smaller guy's helmet is based on the Berkasavo find, which is quite far out of time and place; the larger one is based on later Germanic designs.  As far as I know, there are no finds of helmets from turn-of-the-sxith-century Britain.

On the top right is Oisc of Kent (some detail seems to have been lost in the process of adjusting scanner settings) and on the bottom, Meleagant or Melwas.

Ymddiddan Melwas a Gwenhwyfar.  Melwas vaunts his successful kidnapping of the Queen before Gwynn ap Nudd, king of Annwn.  Gwenhwyfar is not impressed and prepares to call him out for having ambushed Cai.  Then she spies a small man in black and yellow standing nearby.

A soap opera moment:  Kay confronts Guinevere about her affair with Lancelot.  This scene isn't based on any legendary account and is just a study for how characters might interact over the course of the series.  Kay is impetuous, but I like to think he's smarter than he looks, and not malicious.  So he won't be the one to tell Arthur what's going on.

As for Guinevere, too eager to please her family and friends, and thinking things would work out for the best, she agreed to marry a man who's madly in love with her but whom she only likes as a friend.  The temptation when she met someone for whom she did feel true passion, and the guilt accompanying it...  her position is extremely unenviable.

Right:  Arthur sometime between Kay's death and Camlann.  It would have been by design that he doesn't grow up so much as wear out, becoming gaunt and empty-eyed in his 20s.

Left:  Long before she was Arthur's creepy half-sister, she was the benevolent but distant queen of Avalon.  Standard modern elf design mixed with a soupçon of Maleficent (the only character or element I liked about Sleeping Beauty).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

- & final!

My classes came to an end on Monday.  Here's what we had left:

Our 3-D Design Fundamentals final was to be a group effort narrating a story of mysterious disaster.  We were to have life-sized or near-life-sized figures arranged around campus, in postures of flight or expressing amazement, leading back toward the box, graven with unreadable symbols, where one figure slumped with its hand still resting on the lid.

As the weeks progressed, we had to concede the ambitious nature of this project and reduce it to an interior display.  The box itself, of course, was mine.

22-gauge carbon steel, 24 inches on each edge (which is WAY bigger than it sounds - also surprisingly expensive), finished in gold spray paint with the lettering done partly in permanent marker and partly in exterior latex paint.  The lettering is an extract from Hesiod's Works and Days telling the story of Pandora's...  jar (pithou), not box, but whatever.

 I needed a lot of help to hold the pieces together around the spot-welder.  The "hinges" are actually bent pieces of 1/8-inch bar stock I had leftover from a knife guard, TIG-welded by a Bucks lab tech (as spot-welding was proving impossible for that particular purpose) - the lid does not open or close.

Closeup of the spot-welded interior tabs.  Spray-painting is nasty business, particularly in winter; do NOT attempt it if you can't work outside or at least in a garage.  The splatters are a result of me sticking my finger too far over the nozzle for leverage; paint would quickly build up on the underside of my finger and fall off in large drops.  The amount of paint and primer consumed (and it didn't even provide a good full coat) was another unpleasant surprise.

I didn't want to let all this expense get thrown out, so I offered it to arts dean John Mathews, who said to pick a place outdoors.  We placed it in the garden of the Hicks Art Center.  It's been two days and I'm not 100-percent sure they'll be okay with my choice, so it may be gone by now.

For Intro to Sculpture, a rather less ambitious project was requested:  a memorial, monument or reliquary in wood.  I chose to do one for my mother's younger cat, Azabache, who died unexpectedly in October.  It shows her as we remember her best, crouched on the dining table with one paw stretched out to take things off your plate without you noticing (or so she apparently imagined).

Most of it is leftover 3/4-inch pine plank, except for the appliqued relief (which is a bit of thin plywood) and the pillars (1-1/4-inch hardwood dowel), together with wood glue and filler.  It's finished in interior primer (the white) and various types of paint (as I had on hand for the colors I wanted).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Our last assignment in 3-D Design was a functional object made from found objects.  I really wanted a belt knife made from a railroad spike, which is a common project for beginning blacksmiths, but practice with a piece of rebar demonstrated that I haven't the stamina for blacksmithing.

I cast about for ideas at the Salvation Army store and this is what I came up with.

The cranium is, I think, the bowl from a small electric mixer.  The chin strap isn't from a belt but from a more complicated assemblage of straps, the original purpose of which is a mystery.

Luckily I had some sort of sturdy foam stuff in the basement which was just perfect for this purpose.  All metal edges are rolled including on the securing tabs, and the whole thing is held together with rivets, except for the lining, which is epoxied in.

A classmate pointed out that the visor would also be a convenient spot for a lamp.  I was originally intending to reinforce the visor with steel rods, but after riveting it, decided it was stiff enough - making it completely collapse-proof would probably be more a hazard to the wearer's neck.