Some of you probably recall me posting about my rabbit skull and skeleton studies a while back. For those of you just now joining me, the project currently holding my attention is a study on mythical creature anatomy and skeletons. To be specific, in this instance I have decided to begin my journey with something small and simple in design. Say hello to the mighty majestic Jackalope … or at least the rough base for what will be a jackalope.
The jackalope was made famous as a hoax in the 1930s when a couple of clever gentlemen grafted deer antlers to the head of a taxidermy hair. It has some basis in a disease known to cause abnormal bone growth in rabbits, but it was mostly just a way to rope in tourists as far as I can tell.
You can begin your jackalope journey here on the jackalope wiki page if you would like more information on the cutest hoax of the 1930s.
Moving onto the project proper, I of course began this journey by staring at a model rabbit skull for a few hours. To get a true sense of proper proportions I drew some preliminary sketches from side, bottom and top views. That is what professional artists do, right?
For this sculpt, I am using chavant (also known as monster clay). It is an oil based clay which behaves a lot like Plasticine. It is commonly used for sculpting movie makeup prosthetics because it does not dry out, it can be easily reheated and reused, and it is incredible for holding detail. It comes in three densities: soft, medium and hard. I prefer to use medium for my projects as soft holds less detail (and gets damaged easier when casting) and the hard version is a pain to work with (literally, it is killer on my wrists). One of these days perhaps I will do a sculpting tutorial with chavant to demonstrate different ways to sculpt with this material.
I happened to have a tub of recycled chavant left over from making my zombie makeup. Since the scale is going to be about one half of a true sized rabbit I decided I had more than enough for this project. It is refreshing to work on something small scale after spending weeks building a nine foot fur monster.
As you can see from the above picture, I have the size and overall shape of the skull mapped out. The next step in the process will be to add the horns and then start in with the details. I don’t use any sort of special tools for this job. Mainly I stick with a pin tool and a pointed wooden sculpting tool you can find in any beginner sculpting kit. For the final texturing I will be using a course sponge to give the illusion of porous bone. The sponge will also get rid of any unusual ridges or burs from the sculpting process.
From here it will be on to casting. I have personally never made a mold of something this small, and I am a little concerned about bubbles forming either in the silicone or in the plastic I will be using to make the copies.
I will post progress pictures as this project gets underway. There will likely be a delay in updates for the jackalope skull as my due date for my large monster project is fast approaching. If this turns out well perhaps I will start sculpting skulls for creatures of my own design. That could be a lot of fun!