The Creative Quarter Project: Phase 3

With the basic structure of the head ready we set about the task of how to fix the heads inside and the shaping of the neck with paper mache.  We collected all the painted heads from the hairdressers and began arranging them in a rough order to work out the internal space. Fixing them in place was going to be a matter of using chicken wire inside to give a surface to fix things to and loops of wire around the necks to secure their positions. The plan was then to work from the inside out, as once the heads were in position we would continue the paper mache over the acrylic sheets when they were fixed in place.

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Above image shows the first stage of paper mache. We moulded a wire frame around the plinth to create a neck shape. We then packed the spaces behind with carrier bags to give an extra surface for the paper and glue to fix to and to give the wire frame strength.

The whole week was spent working between the paper mache and the heads. We spoke with the hairdressers and they said that all the hair and wool had been delivered and that they would work on the hat.

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Further paper mache work on the neck.

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The above images show the progression of head display. Rather than making the heads uniform, we opted for angles and upside down to create visual interest and to make it look as though they we just thrown in. The spaces were then filled in with black weed guard to hide the wire and block out fixtures. We also decided on placing relevant props here and there to tie in the hairdressing theme and fill large black spaces. Everything was then glued in position.

We cut some of the acrylic early on so as to have the side windows fixed to help hold the heads in place. Cutting the sheets took some practice. The first sheet split too far down and we had to do a patch up job, but as we were  covering the corners with more paper mache it wasn’t a concern. We finally got the hang of scoring the surface of the sheets deep enough to make a cleaner break. Using the glass cutting tool we were also able to take little bites out of the acrylic to make a neater edge. Then all edges were sanded. The front sheet would to go on next to seal the whole face.

Towards the end of the final  week we went to pick up the hat and was told that the apprentices had not had as much time as they’d hoped. The tutors had woven most of the wool in preparation for fixing to the hat. In short, the hat had to be finished by Monday and we had 3 days including part of Monday morning to finish the neck, the plastic front and seal it in, glaze it all, paint the plinth and somehow get it to Uni plus the hat and the back of the head. We worked all day Friday and most of Saturday on the hat and painting the neck. At the end of the day we used sealant to fill in gaps and sprayed the painted neck so both could dry over Sunday. We opted to cover the central area of the hat with fabric for speed instead of wool and kept the hair for the back of the head instead of it getting lost in the wool.

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By Monday morning the head itself was complete apart from some hooks and some protective plastic for inside the back of the head. The hat still needed finishing and so did the back section of the head. We’d kept the whole sculpture in three sections so it was easier to move and get through doorways and lifts. That also meant that we had to then put all the pieces together once the plinth and everything was in position.

Above image shows the near complete hat on Monday morning after we’d sewn the fabric on and finished edges.

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