The Guide |
While most columns on BHQ are how to make something the author has already made successfully, this one will tell you the problems I encountered while making an eight foot high figure: How I solved most of the problems: And what I would do differently next time.
I was hired to perform balloon modelling for three hours at an open air event that was free to the public. In the confirmation email the client asked me to make a king during the event. There were no other details; just a king.
I decided to make a large figure of a knight with a crown, as I have always wanted to do something like that. I thought it best to make most of the figure at home, as it would take longer than the three hours I had on site. I had no idea just how much longer it would take.
Time - I never managed to solve this problem. When I began, I had no idea how long it would take. I think it must eventually have been close to twelve hours, including thinking time - like how on Earth do I attach the arms? Plus, I had to make a second head when the first one burst, and then the substitute head partly deflated over night!
I started by checking what a knight looked like on the internet. I chose one in chain mail, with a purple tunic coming down past his knees.
I began with his legs, using Gray 260Qs in an X-weave. For each leg I used 5 duplets, arranged in a ring, and made bubbles the size of my thumb. When his legs were as long as mine, I twisted two adjacent pairs of bubbles on one leg, with two on the other, deflated the rest of those four balloons, and continued weaving until I had reached his waist.
As I wasn't sure how big he would end up, I decided not to attach his legs to his upper body, just in case I couldn't get him in the car. As it happens I could. Length wasn't a problem, but there was only just enough room to squeeze his body between the top of the seats and the car roof. I never did connect the legs to the body. The two parts held together solidly.
I made the lower part of his tunic in purple violet, using a slightly larger bubble in the Xweave. The gray chain mail legs pressed out, and the purple violet tunic pressed in, and it all held together very well.
His torso I made in purple violet with a closed weave, like the one used for top hats. I wasn't sure how to shape the body where the arms and neck would attach. I thought of making it the shape of a waistcoat (or vest, as they are called in USA) with shaped areas where the sleeves and collar would protrude.
While deciding, I made a big mistake. I made his helmet. This was based on an American Football helmet. My intention was to leave a gap for his face, as in a football helmet, then continue the chain mail so it would spread over his shoulders.
Unfortunately, this didn't work out. The correct way would be to make his head, build the helmet around it, position it on the body, then continue the chain mail so it spread nicely on his shoulders.
Making the helmet first, resulted in the chain mail being at too shallow an angle and not spreading at all, so it appeared to be all neck, and was too long, as you will see in the photo.
His head I based on Daniel McCullough's 646Q Long Head, from BHQ Columns. I had made one before with little trouble, but it was now getting late and I was tired and in a hurry, and it all went wrong. The outer 646Q split when I tried to attach the nose to a raisin twist. I hadn't time to make a new head, so I glued the nose to the inner 646Q, and the whole thing burst!
I made a 350Q Lootle head, (see Robbie Furman's excellent DVDs) which fitted nicely into the helmet, and thought everything was fine. I didn't add ears or hair as they would be concealed by the helmet - possibly another mistake. When I got up the morning of the event, part of the head had deflated. I tied what was left into the opening in the helmet, and hoped for the best. It didn't look too bad, but if it had had hair, it might have been better. Another time I would, perhaps, choose a different head.
Back to the arms. I had decided not to use the waistcoat/vest idea. I cheated a little on his left arm by covering it with his shield. This was made using a flat weave, in red and white quarters. His shoulder was formed by tying lengths of Gray 260Qs between purple violet pinch twists on his body, so they increased in size, and, as they did so, the space between his body and arm increased, giving it a more natural look.
As this was successful, I used it for his right arm, too, and used an X-weave tube for the remainder of his right arm. Where the arm met the body at the shoulder, I decreased the number of Xs to give it a tapered look, and attached the arm by tying it on with scraps of 260Qs, hiding the tapered part beneath his shoulder.
The problem of attaching his head had two solutions. One was to attach a 260Q where his neck would be; run this down to his crotch, and twist it in place at that point. As it happens, the other method worked so well, I never did attach the 260Q to his crotch, but just left it loose inside his body.
The second method was to tie the chain mail, from his elongated neck, to the purple violet tunic, using scraps of 260Q. This worked well, and gave a solid fit.
The shoes were a flat weave. If I had more time, I would have given them more shape. I just tied them to the bottom of his legs.
When I arrived at the event, I tied the knight to a tent pole with 260Qs. Then I added a red and white plume to his helmet, and put a flat-woven sword in his right hand. Finished!
It was a windy day, but he held together well. I had to repair his sword, once. As the event was a fund raiser, they decided to raffle the model. Just as well. I didn't want to take him home.