I don’t usually draw performers when they aren’t performing, but I looked across the dark club and saw Michele’s character and style and beauty shining like a lamp. I hope I have captured that feeling a little bit. I am sorry I didn’t get her partner, amazing hooper Sky, from the front, but her signature long hair is there!
Then just a week later I wound up drawing in the dressing room at Torture Garden Berlin.
I made this picture of fantastic, majestic performer Bertoulle Beaurebec, The Pain Proof Priestess, before she changed into her costume. The dressing room was VERY SMALL, and VERY CROWDED. It was simply packed with beautiful people climbing in and out of costumes, mostly latex and leather. I was squished on a little vinyl loveseat with a boy who was threading laces into the gauntlets Sylva Hattington of Bubbles and Frown made to go with the spectacular headpieces she created for the main show. Sylva was frantically busy working on getting people dressed and made up!
I don’t usually go into the dressing room or draw performers when they aren’t fully in costume and on-stage or at least in their public personas. This is because I really value the effort that they make to create their stage selves, and want to honor that as a completed vision. However, in this instance, Ms. Beaurebec was clearly in her priestess self. She was so serene and mighty in her giant boots and robe-like gown, I felt like I was drawing an aspect of the priestess.
And I was in the dressing room because I was exhausted and feeling overwhelmed some of the night and there weren’t really any chill spaces at the venue, the gorgeous newly-reopened Metropol. I also drew Fifi Fantôme and Lucille Spielfuchs in the dressing room, and I’ll add that when I finish it 🙂
Meanwhile, I want to share a story about what happened at that Velvet Creepers show at Crack Bellmer.
Crack Bellmer is a gorgeous, marvelous venue in the RAW site in Friechrichshain. It reminds me of beloved Oakland warehouse spaces like The Vulcan. There is a sort of deck to the left of the stage, with a huge black couch on it, and that is where I was set up, with my friend and colleague DanielPaikov. While I was drawing Michelle, a young woman came up to us.
It was during intermission, and the music was loud. The young woman leaned over and said to me, yelling, “Do you have any speed?” Because I was seated on a raised platform and leaning forward to hear her, the spray of spittle from her mouth went right over my glasses and into my eyes.
I was jolted from the shock, and at the same time, Daniel and I both cracked up because she had asked the single person in the room least likely to have any speed. Do people even do speed anymore? We laughed hysterically at her, but at the same time, my mind was racing, trying to remember everything I knew about saliva transmission of Hep C. Apparently, this girl had been going up to every single person in the club and asking if they had speed. Yelling. Probably at a hundred people, mostly drunk.
March 1, the morning I came home from Torture Garden at 4am, the first patient in Berlin was announced. I knew that night it was the last event I’d be going to for a long time. Both Sadie, who was sitting with me at TG, and I got sick after the party, and were sick the first week of March. But just colds. Lucky and blessed. It’s unlikely I will go to a public event without a face shield again, which is an acceptable price to pay.
I am so grateful to my Patreon Patrons, whose monthly financial support lets me keep working safely at home.
Then I just let it bounce around the doll parts drawer for a couple years. I had some vague idea of making an insect doll with it.
When I started messing with holographic and iridescentvinyl, I used the tiniest scraps to make the body a superhero suit in the style of Ororo’s First Appearance. I made a standing neck ruffle of crystal-studded glitter pvc during the same couple months, and an inner ruffle of clear blue vinyl that came from a package or something. Trying to use some actual trash in all my assemblage now!
Because almost no adhesive will hold shaped vinyl or pvc against its natural flexion, I secured the ruffles with wire and wired them carefully around the doll’s armpits to preserve articulation.
I had some yellow plastic doll sandals with filigree tops, which I snipped down, colored with a blue paint pen, painted with blue interference paint, and coated with Mod Podge. I put those on her shins, tied them on with ribbon and then sculpted some shoes onto her feet with Apoxie Sculpt. Sanded them, painted them blue, gave them shine with blue interference paint, and varnished shoes and spats with my hardcore German solvent-based varnish. And added some jewels, attached with UV resin. Done!
For her head, I had several loose doll heads I considered. I tried one out, coloring it black, styling its hair, adding huge jeweled eyes – but it didn’t look right.
I had to sculpt her head from scratch in the end.
I formed two connected balls out of crumpled aluminium foil, and then I used the same method of alternating layers of air-dry clay, then Apoxie Sculpt, as I did for the Alien Venus Flytrap.
I find initially covering a tin-foil base shape with air-dry clay is both faster and easier than using Apoxie Sculpt, because you don’t have to mix it and the air-dry clay is softer, so pressing it onto the base doesn’t deform it.
After a day or two of drying the air-dry clay can be sanded to refine its shape and covered with Apoxie Sculpt for more strength and rigidity. Let that cure for a day, sand and refine with your Tack-Life mini-dremel, then smooth with air-dry clay!
In the end I got a pretty nice head, and then I painted it with black tube acrylics.
And then, so many coats of Mod Podge Matte diluted with water.
It worked so well! (See the Giant Audrey post for the subject of whether you can dilute Mod Podge, a heated topic! ) Diluting the Mod Podge let me get smooth coats without brush marks, and the pencil let me rotate the head to help drips self-level. One of the many important things I have learned from action figure customizers is to always, always put your head on a stick.
The head was looking almost as if it had been manufactured with the body, which is always the customizers’ goal.
The subsurfacespecularity of the layers of Matte Mod Podge (which isn’t really matte) almost precisely matched the albedo of the molded plastic.
Of course, I foolishly ignored another crucial action figure customizer thing, which is, always, always, always prime!
I just decided to skip it for some reason! And you can see the results above. The areas of the head I hadn’t covered with Apoxie Sculpt let in moisture and the head cracked from moisture absorbed during the Mod Podge coats, even though the head had been painted with multiple coats of black tube acrylic first. Air-dry clay, even if it’s cured, can expand and crack when moisture seeps into it. ALWAYS PRIME!!!
Anyway, having screwed up with not priming, I proceeded to screw up again with the UV resin.
I had envisioned the doll’s eyes as covered in refractive, transparent layers of UV resin and glitter from the beginning. I used Padico UV/LED resin, which cures almost instantly when hit with a UV LED flashlight. But I am a UV resin amateur. When I started to put the resin and glitter layers on the eyeballs, of course it crept over onto the forehead and beak. It is very gooey, very drippy stuff, and the minute it touched the rest of the head, it couldn’t be wiped off without destroying the whole finish.
So I covered the whole head with resin. Which messed up the lines of the sculpt a bit, because it is so hard to apply UV resin to a rounded complex shape and get a level finish! You can see that on the lumpy eyeballs above. And it changed the albedo of the finish so it was now higher than the body!
Augh. I had to keep going, at this point – sometimes you just have to.
I drilled out the base of the head to fit the neck join of the body – my drill goes right through the crumpled foil- and attached antennae from a plastic bug. (Those had been Mod Podged, painted black, then Mod Podged again!)
I used UV resin to attach the antennae, and I have to say that is a bricolage and assemblage application that UV resin is perfect for!
It is faster than Super Glue and holds more varied connecting surfaces. I just put a blob of resin on the base of the antenna, held it onto the head with one hand and hit it with the UV LED torch with the other. BOOM!
I also put a light wash of diluted Mod Podge over the center of the doll’s face to knock down the albedo. It is a hack, and could be scraped off, but it looks ok.
The wings were another UV resin experiment.
I had some cicada wings printed onto acetate from a doll company, bought years ago, and I wanted to bond the acetate wings onto Angelina Fantasy Film. In retrospect, I should have used holographic vinyl, which is thicker! But I smeared a layer of UV resin on the back of the wings (not yet cut out of their sheet) and put the Fantasy film over it and squidged them together like filling a cake. Then I hit the sandwich with the torch to cure it and cut the wings out.
I would say it worked fairly well, bonding the surfaces without smearing the print on the acetate or warping either film. Probably white glue or Mod Podge would have worked too. However, I felt like my UV resin luck was running out. I didn’t think I could get a smooth layer on the surface of the wings, although people on etsy do it all the time. So I used my hardcore German varnish. I coated the wings heavily and let it drip off (terrible fumes!). It did self-level pretty well, although it got a little thick at the edges.
The final touch was something to cover the wires around her shoulders that hold the ruff on, and something to hide the place where I glued the wings on her back. I was peering into my ribbon drawer, thinking of ruffling a thin organza ribbon, when I saw a hair flower that had lost its back. Bingo! I tore it apart and the results were even better than I hoped – it was constructed of little triangular folded wings that fit perfectly in all the spaces!
I put her jeweled metal girdle on and tied it with ribbon at the back, and fused it with the front of her costume using UV resin.
Oh wow was I glad to be done! SO MANY PROCESSES!!!!
How I made the ombré filigree holographic vinyl and resin girdle will be in the next post, which is…