Recently I was asked to be part of a group show in LA called "Best Friends Forever" at the R&R Gallery. The show had a really fun premise; Each artist is given a mannequin to embellish upon, in any medium they prefer.
I was given a female mannequin and almost instantly I had the idea of doing some kind of post-apocalyptic military girl with mechanical limbs and some kind of similar helmet.
I sketched out the idea a few times and no matter how I drew her, it kept looking like a HUGE project, something that would take me months to finish. With only a few weeks to get the entire project completed, I needed help!
Enter Jim and Marissa Deren. Jim is an all around creative guy who wrote the "Bhart" story in my last book and also helped me make the miniature for Zerofriends's Winter Stalker commercial. And Marissa is an amazing apparel designer who makes tons of custom clothing that has some of the coolest details ever, plus she's very pretty!
The idea called for a bunch of mechanical parts; pipes, tubes, gears, nuts, bolts, metal sheeting, etc. Luckily, one of our friends was talking about how he was planning on donating his car to charity because he hates driving, and loves charity. It took little convincing for us to sway him into letting us gut his car and scrap it for parts.
At first I thought we were just going to remove a few hoses and maybe take the distributor cap off. But after about a dozen cocktails and a few hundred swings of the sledge hammer, we practically took apart the entire car.
Aside from the car, we dismantled: a dish washer, an AC unit, and a couple of VCRs. Each time we took something apart, we'd lay out all the individual parts and try to figure out how each piece would fit onto the overall form of the mannequin. Now it was all about creatively assembling the individual parts together to build up a semi-convincing head and arm. Jim took on the task of making the arm, while I built the head.
For the base of the head I used a metal vase, and attached a bunch of plumbers tape to form somewhat of a skull structure; this made the form of the head extremely strong.
Using sheet metal, I cut up small pieces and attached them along the skull structure to build up more of the exterior surface.
The eyes and mouth were all random pieces that just seemed to fit together perfectly.
Initially, I was going to sculpt a mouth and teeth on the other side of the helmet, but it just didn't seem to go with the "mechanical" theme that was evolving. So I started attaching tubes on the other side of the face, almost as if part of the helmet had ripped off and exposed her muscle structure to be a web of wires.
Using the existing arm of the mannequin, Jim attached clamps and hoses to the forearm and bicep.
He then started designing and building a hand with fingers that actually had reasonable articulation. He also built the crate that she was attached to.
Meanwhile, Marissa was working on the uniform for our mannequin. She started off with a few articles of clothing; then basically re-cut and re-worked everything. Keeping true to the original concept, she used a variety of different materials to embellish the uniform.
In just about 9 days we got the entire thing completed. I'm super happy with the end result and I couldn't have done it with out the help of Jim and Marissa.