Category: Assemblage

Articles in the Assemblage category

Thespin -- An Assemblage Piece

We have a challenge going on in one of my assemblage groups using those cheap little plastic anatomy dolls from the Dollar Tree. One of the members was gracious enough to post one to me so I could join in on the challenge. The photo to the right shows the blank canvas, how it arrived to me. I was so happy when I found the postie trying to stuff if through my door, and in celebration I immediately dismantled it. :)

I’m actually making two pieces for this challenge—Thespin is the first I’ve completed, using the back half of the anatomy doll. I’ve always wanted to make some sort of ‘muse’ doll, however since I’ve always considered muses to be female, I created him to be a collective of some of the things that inspire me. His name is derived from Thespies which is from the Valley of the Muses, where Thespians organized their Mouseia festivals every 5 years from the 3rd century B.C.

To start, I took the back half of the Anatomy doll and began by zapping his elbows with my heat gun so I could bend them. I didn’t bend them much, probably about 1cm, but it was enough to give him a little bit extra dimesion so I could hang stuff from his hands. The next step was to cover him with modge podge, some 7Gypsies printed newsprint tissue, and a coat of modge podge to seal. Once dry, I used Golden’s Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold, mixed with some metallic copper acrylic and some gloss glaze medium to colour him. I then stippled on some brown acrylic to add a bit more depth, and lined his edges with a gold paint pen to give him a bit more definition.

From there it was simply a matter of filling him. My goal was to fill him with stuff that either inspired me, or things that I love (and in that way, they probably also inspire me). Some of the meanings are obvious, some a little more hidden, but they each have their own little meanings.

Most of the objects I used to build him up was ‘found stuff’—stuff I found in my studio, stuff I found along the road, stuff I found in the park. These items include clock parts, scrapbooking embellishments, beads, buttons, hardware, the metal bit off the top of a corked wine bottle, subway sub stamps, a coin and a bottlecap off a bottle of rootbeer. (The bottlecap—rootbeer isn’t usually available in England, but a nearby grocer imports bottles of it from america. I really happen to like rootbeer.) ;)

Flat objects like the sub stamps simply got adhered to the body and then glazed over to blend. Most everything else is attached with wire except for the bottlecap and the 2p coin which are glued onto cork, which was then glued onto the body. I didn’t want a lot of the wire showing on the front of the body, so I used beads to cover up where the wire had to travel across the body.

Once everything was attached, it was a matter of cleaning up the wires at the back. I brought all the wires together in the centre of the back, attached a fabric flower, and wove the wires through the centre and used them to attach the body to the stand.

The stand is created using a bell off an old-fashion style alarm clock as the base. I was originally going to fill it with plaster to add some weight, but the entire piece ended up having such great balance (a fluke) that I just didn’t need it. I covered the bell in the same manner as I did the body, then screwed it to a stick with a washer in between. I added a ring of beads to the bottom of the stick to finish it off, and wrapped copper wire around the branches for a decorative element.

The entire piece stands 13.25-inches tall, and I’ve included a few extra close-up photos to show some of the details in the chest cavity and in the hip area, the two places with the most ‘stuff’.

Thespin was so much fun to make. I really got to let loose and play, and it gave me enough of a challenge to keep it quite interesting. Figuring out how to attach everything with a minimum amount of glue and making a stand for him were probably the greatest challenges, although easily solved with a bit of thought and some rummaging. And aren’t those the fun bits anyway??