So at long last my Soul Tree is done!
32 hours of work (between two people), 30 some odd roles of toilet paper, chicken wire, PVC, 3 cans of Great Stuff, 6 cans of spray paint, about 5 small bottles of acrylic paint, and a gallon of PVC glue. The idea was inspired by Pumpkin Rot’s Roots Scarecrow, Poltergeist, and my tree is my art series “Dread Till Drawn”.
So I’ll take you step by step through the process so you can see what it took me at least to create a scarecrow out of Papier-mâché.
I started off by sketching the basic principle of what I wanted. I wanted it to feel fluid like a banyan tree and have a reddish, dark wood feel like a cypress knee. There is also a lot of symbolism for my Christian faith intertwined in its positioning and the red beating heart. I had to get the basic idea of what I would need to pull off the supports based on the angles of the tree. I decided to use one very large PVC pipe with and elbow, various branches, a wood tee frame base, smaller PVC with joints, your basic cheapo bucky skeleton, a better skull, wire, pool noodles, black duct tape, toilet paper, newspaper, pvc (white) glue, and Great Stuff. Most of this I already had.
Here is the basic beginning frame. I cut a hole in the back of the bucky spine so I could access the 4 – way connector and join the neck, shoulders, and spine. The leg was really just for added support. A lot of what I did on this project was a balancing act… figuring out what supported all the odd angles. Where I couldn’t pull it off without further building I attached it to the ceiling using green floral wire.
I added the pool noodles to be a large root in the front and back of the the sculpture. Then covered the whole sculpture in Great Stuff. This served two purposes: The first was to add root like textures and to seal the basic frame and make it more sturdy.
I then wrapped the base in chicken wire to give it a trunk (and built various other root protrusion), added two more cans of Great stuff, built the hands and ribs with sticks and duct tape, and then papier-mâché on the entire body. This was the longest part of the process and bless my wife for helping with the monotonous chore of adding all that paper! For adding paper around the chicken wire I first put strips of duct tape on top of the wire and then added the newspaper so that the paper had something to grasp. Finally everything was covered in plain single ply toilet paper.
The fingers on the lower hand were built with 10 gauge copper wire and then taped around them… All except the middle finger which I used the smaller PVC pipe as support for the arm and hand.
The upper fingers were a combination of small bamboo stick and the copper wire wrapped with thinner copper wire and then duct taped together.
I used black spray paint as the base coat of paint. I then brushed on Raw Umber and Burnt Sienna acrylics, sealed it with polyurethane and then, just for good measure I sprayed it with a satin spray paint. Ultimately I will go in and spray the inside with Great Stuff so that it is waterproof on the inside.
The heart was the final piece. I actually just found a prop at Target that was a heart in a jar. I took the heart out of the jar and sanded its base down so it would fit snug in the sculptures chest.
So that is it! I’m actually very pleased with it’s outcome. As this was my first attempt at a life-size sculpture I found it was fairly simple, if not tedious, to build.