Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Creative Muse Imagination Confabulator

Click on the picture to see a larger view.
Of course I know you are all looking at this and wondering.... "Why on earth did she decorate a letter R?" Well I'll tell you why. My friend from Washington State, Marita Kovalik,  is decorating her newly painted studio and she wanted a word of papier mache letters to adorn the space above her door.

This is what the naked letters all looked like before she sent them out. 

These are the decorated letters she has gotten back so far. 

So as you can see I received the larger letter "R" to decorate with the request that it be "steampunk". How could I turn down a request like that when you all know I love a good steampunk theme. Anyways below are some more photos and the details of what I did to achieve various parts.

I originally just started decorating it any way I could think of to make it steampunk and then it occurred to me that all the other artists had incorporated a cherub in their design so maybe I could too. After I had that epiphany I realized that this could become a muse inspired "idea" machine. So the ideas are generated by the cherub and flow up the wire to the idea bulb. (You know how you get an idea and ... "bing"... the light bulb goes off. ) It triggers the pressure gauge to see how big the idea is. (continued below.)

1. I started with finding a cherub face that I might have made from polymer clay and all the ones I had were too small. So I pulled out all of my molds and made faces from all the cherubs. I thought this one looked the most inspirational because of the closed eyes. He was formed from black polymer clay and then brushed with copper Perfect Pearls before I baked him. After he was baked I rubber black acrylic paint into the crevices and wiped the rest off then coated him in glossy varnish. 
2. The wings are cut from thin sheets of craft copper and then embossed and die cut all in one step using a Cuttlebug "Plus" folder called "Vintage Collage." I then flipped the wings over and embossed the back much deeper using a ball stylus. I then flipped it back over and rubbed black acrylic paint into the crevices and wiped off the excess. (The metal diamond plate you see behind the cherub is done the same way with a regular embossing folder.) The hinge springs are just coils of craft wire that I screwed in with very tiny brass wood screws. The wings are also backed with pieces of chipboard and attached to small blocks of wood from underneath. That gave me something to screw the springs into and gave them more stability. 

The "idea" then flows into the upper lightbulb or goes around the side to turn the "creative gears & chain" to get the ideas flowing better. From the gears it flows out the wires and goes behind the door in the center. 

Notice the "idea" storage are has a door with a screen in it. That's so the ideas don't get stale and they get some light coming in to keep them bright and shiny. (I know I have waaaaaayyyyyy too much time on my hands to come up with all this nonsense.) 

Here's a close up of the idea bottles. I used the mini bottles from Tim Holtz and filled them with Diamond Glaze that has been colored with Distress Ink. (If you decide to do this keep the amount very small because it took about a week for this amount to dry.) The dispensers are "grease" nozzles that I found at Lowes in the hardware section. I also get the copper wire from the electrical section and have also found bits and pieces in the plumbing section. 

This is a close-up of the power source. It is made from a plastic tube that some beads came in and is filled with "cracked ice" glitter. I even used the black rubberized caps for the ends. I then took some flat brass strips I had and bent them around the black caps. I wrapped black wire around them to keep them from springing open and cut a slit through the letter to insert them. (I had to cut holes all over the back of the letter to attach various things.)  The little black hoses are rubber tubing that I found in the children's section of Michael's that is used to make necklaces from. (You can find it on any jewelry supply site too.) The mini nuts I got from a tool supply place and are just glued onto some black wire stuck into the end of the rubber tubing. The last touch was to add a spiral of brass wire for the electrical connection. 

The magnifying glass is so that you can read the name of the creation. (I purposely printed it very small.) The gears are from some old clocks I bought off of eBay. I found a way to attach the wind up key to one gear and mounted it so that it connected with the upper gear. The magnifying glass is actually made to attach to a pair or glasses with a small clip. (I removed the clip and attached it through the letter with some washers as spacers.

Here's a close-up of the slanted leg. It is a collection of watch and clock parts that are either attached with tiny screws or just fit tightly into holes I punched through the letter. (The timing belt is another piece of that rubbing tubing for necklaces.) 

Here's a side view of the large gear in the slot. It actually turns if you spin it. I did that by inserting a dowel rod through the center of the gear. (The dowel rod is covered on the front by the small solid silver gear.) The gear is so thick because it is cut from masonite. ( I got the gear at Retro Cafe Art.) I painted it with the Sophisticated Finishes paint in copper and then applied the blue patina finish. (The base of the whole letter is painted with the blonde bronze and then finished with green patina solution.) I cut the slot out of thin wood and stained it then screwed it into the letter to hide the cut edges of the chipboard. 

Well the goop in the glass bottles has to dry a few more days before I can safely mail it. I have no idea how I am going to wrap it so it doesn't get damaged, especially the magnifying glass, but I will figure something out. Hope you like it Marita!


donna!ee said...

exceptionally gorgeous! :)

craftyM said...

Let me be the first to say...OMG!!! OMG !!!! OMG!!! I am speechless! Totally in AWE... as Gina would say... GOBSMACKED all over the place. This is just totally amazing Val... You always do fine work, but this just takes the cake. The detail... OMG!!! Those tiny little bottles inside. You were right when you told me you spent a lot of time thinking and planning. I am just so LOVIN' it! Are you sure you really want to give it back to me? Jeese, it is AMAZING Val and so are YOU! Love you to death, girlfriend! YOU ARE THE BEST!!!! Marita

craftyM said...

Let me be the first to say... OMG!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!! I am totally speechless, Val!!! This is just amazing! You told me you had ideas, but my it shows that you have really put a lot of thought into this... And the detail... OMG!!! Those little bottles inside! OMG!! I am as Gina would say... GOBSMACKED!!! Are you sure you want to send it back? It is AMAZING and so are YOU!!I LOVE LOVE LOVE it and it's MINE MINE MINE! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited! Love you to death, girlfriend!!! Marita

Karenliz said...

WOW It's amazing. I love all the details and the moving parts.

Anonymous said...

Valerie! You are out of control! I cannot believe the work, the details, the craftsmanship that went into this piece. I know Marita will probably faint when she sees it!
Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!

Sue Young said...

OMG OMG OMG. That's all I can say at this moment in time.

Sarah said...

This is the coolest confabulator that I have ever seen. Very creative and just downright inspiring.

bobbie said...


This is STUNNINGLY phenomenal!!! Every little detail is absolutely beautifully realized ~

Would you ever consider making one for me? I would pay you, and all shipping costs, of course.

***le sigh***

Lululiz said...


1CardCreator said...

OMG, this is totally awesome!

Electra said...

This is incredible, Valerie! I love the belt on the gears and the door that opens, and, well, all of it!

Anonymous said...

WOW! I´m in awe! What I love most (if there IS a "most" since every single bit is just fantastic!!!) is the door with the idea bottles behind. OMG OMG OMG I feel sooo out of mojo now but I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you created

massofhair said...

In AWE of your creative spark for this project! Thank you for sharing and inspiring me to do something similar to this but on a much smaller scale for my room.
Totally StUnNiNg piece of genius:-)