I’ve been on holiday this week, and it’s been a chance to tinker with stuff that I struggle to make time for at the weekends. One of those things is a peg sculpture of a Neanderthal head (pegs à la forensic reconstruction, that is). I found it being remaindered in a toy shop last year when I was looking for a present for my godson. I figured it was a bit old for him, but something that I would love to play with… (He did get something else, don’t worry!)
I had a choice between this and a gorilla, and according to the advertising material inside there were also a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Julius Caesar and a horse in the range, but I think this is the one I would have chosen anyway – the T-Rex obviously wouldn’t have been 1:1 scale, and a Neanderthal beats old Julius for interest any day.
There were some reasonably detailed instructions inside the kit for reconstructing the Neanderthal’s face, but one vital piece of information was missing – what is this stuff you’ve given me to build the face with, and is it going to set? It was referred to in some places as “clay”, and on the packets as “modelling material”, and it looked a lot like Plasticine.
Without a very definite idea of how the “modelling material” was going to behave, I wanted to have enough slack available to be able to just keep going if time proved to be an issue, so it became top of the list of things to do this week.
Here’s what I started off with; a skull (cream) with some moulded muscle (yellow) and fat (white) on top. Not quite sure why the fat was there, as ultimately it didn’t contribute much to the shape of the face, but I guess I was being informed as well as entertained:
The first thing to do was to cut the red pegs off their sprue and insert them into their matching numbered holes.
Then the first of the “modelling material” was applied, to bulk up the cheeks. The “modelling material” turned out to behave awfully like Plasticine, as well as looking like it, and I think from now on we’ll assume that that’s what it is. Here the aim was to build the cheeks up until only the small pips on the end of each peg were still visible – the little dots you can see in the picture. I moved to paper towels here as I realised the newsprint was leaving marks on the back of the skull:
Next, apply eyes and former for nose, and suffer accusing glare. Eyes and nose were cast in white plastic, with water-slide transfers for iris and pupils:
Roll out a sheet of Plasticine to 3mm (roller and depth-graded tray provided) and apply from brow to back of skull:
Do likewise with a couple more sheets to cover the sides of the skull:
Then apply another sheet from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and form tightly around the mouth and nose:
Apply another sheet from just below each eye down to under the jaw line. This builds up the cheek, and gives it a nice smooth surface, unlike the slightly rough surface built up by hand before:
Apply eyelids. Ned now looks bored rather than accusatory. This stage was a bit tricky, and the waterslide transfers suffered a bit here, although not enough to be a disaster:
Build up the nostrils (compare with previous picture):
Form the lips and filtrum (groove beneath the nose):
Build ears around white plastic formers, remove the place-holder pegs that have been in their place up until now, and stick on head. The ears I made are pretty rubbish and I have a whole newfound respect for anyone who can get ears right, whether drawn or sculpted. The ear doesn’t look too bad in this photo, but I could easily have picked a less flattering angle:
Add final detail to the face; lines around mouth and nose and under the eyes, and dots for pores/bristles. Apparently there was a hair pack for the Neanderthal sold separately, but I couldn’t locate one to buy and decided to go ahead without it. Having found a picture online, I think perhaps I wasn’t missing much:
I lent him my glasses for this picture, to counter Neanderthals’ image of being lacking in intellect. This Neanderthal looks down his nose at me because I neither know nor care what the semiotic thickness of a performed text is.
So now I have a creepy Neanderthal head to keep about the house and gather dust. Every home should have one! It’s a shame that it does appear to be Plasticine and therefore not as permanent as it might be; so at some point in the future I suspect it will be reduced to its component parts and/or discarded. However, for now, it’s kind of satisfying to have the result of a (very long!) day’s work to look back on.
Find out more about Captain Biplane, intrepid airman from a parallel universe, here, or just jump straight into the first episode of Kidnappers from Mercury. Episode 2 is to come later, followed by Green Pirates of Jupiter! The best way to get notified of future instalments is probably this RSS feed.
Courtesy of kateaw. It would be interesting to know – beyond the examples given – what the scores are based on:
So, ggreig, your LiveJournal reveals…
You are… 6% unique (blame, for example, your interest in policy-based design), 27% peculiar, 50% interesting, 16% normal and 2% herdlike (partly because you, like everyone else, enjoy doctor who). When it comes to friends you are normal. In terms of the way you relate to people, you are keen to please. Your writing style (based on a recent public entry) is intellectual.
Your overall weirdness is: 42
(The average level of weirdness is: 28.
You are weirder than 82% of other LJers.)
I’m not much of a dreamer, but I’ve had some strange dreams over the last couple of days which I presume are due to being knocked out of my routine (my medication isn’t very exotic). As usual for me, they fade pretty fast and I don’t remember much about them, but I thought this one was worth sharing the concept of, before it disappears like the detail already has:
The villainess, a schoolgirl kidnapper whose preferred medium of communication is through 1960s ska (with unseen accompaniment), is opposed by a randomish assortment of unlikely individuals who each have a superpower that consists of changing into a small, inoffensive animal. They set off to investigate the parts of buildings that conventional searchers can’t get into.
There’s gotta be a smash TV series in it, right?
* Yes, I know, spelling. It’s a reference to a meme from the 1990s. Its original page disappeared with Geocities, but there’s a copy still around. And Millie was the only female name I could think of associated with 1960s ska, even though My Boy Lollipop wasn’t among the selection my protagonist employed. Nor, staying on the small animal theme, was Oh Henry, although I’m sure that one would have cropped up in the showdown somehow if I’d got that far before waking up.
Edit: I would also have really hoped to hear Monkey Ska, originally by Derrick Harriot.
There’s an interesting story on the BBC web site about someone mapping the Scottish watershed – a line from north to south (or, of course, if you prefer, vice versa), on either side of which water will flow either into the Atlantic or the North Sea. One would think this would be well known geographical information in a developed country, but apparently it’s never been done before.
The BBC story contains a low-res map of the watershed.
Taking the watershed as a handy dividing line, I can say I’m probably more of an east coast person than west coast, although I’ve spent a fair bit of my life on either side. But I was born and lived in the east until the age of seven, and again for most of the time since I was eighteen. My sister, on the other hand, would be a west coast person.
Of course these facts are utterly irrelevant to everyday life for most people, but it’s cool to think that something so important to the physical geography of Scotland has only just been “discovered”.
It takes me a while to get round to painting stuff, especially since I went almost all of 2010 without lifting a brush (I broke my duck on 30th December). If you were reading in October 2008, you might have seen me announce that there was a figure I especially wanted, given that the name of my steampunk campaign is Steam Elephants. Today I finished painting it:
It was nice to spend a few days painting figures just for fun; a steam elephant, an armoured tram, a miniature submarine, a mausoleum, three triffids and a couple of dolphins is probably not the most practical selection. It cleared away a few figures I started long ago, as only the elephant and the submarine were started from scratch in the last few days, and put me in a slightly better place to get started on some more practical figures.