Saturday, September 6, 2014

Casper Bedmobile

Casper Bedmobile designed by Eric Winston of 32 Square and, fabricated at FSDS.

There is a still strangeness to mannequins. When we see them in store windows we relate to them in terms of how their clothing fits and how those clothes may fit us but little else. There is almost always a distant neutrality to them. It's as if they are designed to be emotionally disconnected from us and any other mannequins with which the window is shared, regardless of what mood the lighting, background scenery and accessory props are striving to convey. Through all the research, no reclined, interactive poses among mannequins could be found. In my career, I've spent a fair number of years in the figure building industry for both fine art studios and purveyors of museum dioramas. Those figures can be hugely expensive and time consuming and most generally involve life casting real people. This project would have neither that sort of time or budget.

So then, how does one make two stiff figures, lost in utter indifference to one another, embody love and intimacy? I started with a Sawsall and a really long blade and hacked the male figure to pieces. He started out as a seated figure and required merciless amputation of his head, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and hips. All of those parts were repositioned and fiberglassed back together.
After seeing her mate's brutal butchery only her head and neck required the same savage sort of persuasion in order for her to return such salacious sentiment. When the two seemed sufficiently smitten, they were recessed a couple of inches into their foam block(mattress) to not only create the illusion of a weight unbeknownst to their hollow bodies but, also to allow a fully assembled clearance through NYC tunnels.
The next stage involved plastic wrapping this new romance to keep them bound to one another in their facsimile of feelings and affection but, free from the hard coating that would render their bedding bullet proof.
There are many ways to harden fabrics for sculptural applications. Certain boat epoxies work very well because of their slow setting times that allow the sculptor to style the fabric for up to 2 hours. Polyester resin works as well but is harder to control, sets faster and looks heavy and wetter. As such, Polyester will require more resculpting and lastly, neither of those resins will give you a truly structural surface by themselves. Both will require extensive backfilling with a dense urethane pour foam. IE: more time and materials.
A number of years ago, I worked on a job for MTV. One of it's many props would include a hard coated, old sofa. It was an enormously successful effect. Though the sofa was entirely encapsulated in urethane resin, it looked very natural. Almost every organic nuance of the fabric was telegraphed to the surface of the resin and the finished piece didn't look heavy or wet in any way. Furthermore, once done, you could hit the sofa with a baseball bat and not hurt it. No dense foam backfill required.
The pillow and comforter were styled with the figures in position and hard coated in the same manner with successive misting coats so as not to weigh down the look of the fabrics and then more heavily coated, knowing that fabric was stiff enough to maintain it's intended shapes.
When the hard coating was complete, the comforter was lifted off of the figures like a convertible hard top. The figures were stripped of their protective plastic, painted and dressed in real PJ's. Everything else got painted with nearly no finish work to the hardened fabrics and the whole unit was installed on the top of a Mercedes Sprinter van that was outfitted with a fantastic custom sleeping space inside of it.
This micro mobile pop up stopped crowds and made people double take wherever it went. In fact a tunnel toll taker actually freaked out, believing that this was a publicity stunt with real people on top of the van. For more on this fabulous spectacle, please visit the good folks at SFDS by clicking HERE.

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