I thought I'd write the very first blog post on my new site about a project that has just come to a close today!
In late 2014 I was invited by my friend Dave to take part in a group art show he was organising called 'TOYS'. The brief was simple:
An exhibition of all things PLAYFUL and FUN
I felt like that was an excuse to do something really fun. I thought I would try and design a new character / toy and try and make it somehow, but I didn't really think plan too much ahead of that, until I had a much better idea...
Back in 2010 my friend Hiatt Evans, master prop maker & set builder, created a giant blank version of my toy 'Droplet' for the Launch of the 2nd series of the toy. It was painted white and I put out lots of pens for to sign and doodle over for the evening!
After the Droplet launch though, the white doodled Droplet lived at my house, and has came with me in every flat move ever since, getting slightly more tattered with each move. So I wondered if Hiatt would be up for collaborating again, this time bringing the Droplet to life and more in line with the newer look the character has!
So, I asked Hiatt if he'd be up for the collab and how did he fancy giving the Droplet a facelift and a fresh set of legs! Luckily, he said yes and we set off figuring it out!
The idea behind the new Droplet's is that when they fall from the sky, they're all a lovely turquoise blue colour with a simple set of eyes, because it's not until they splash down into their environment that they inherit the look and feel of their location (i.e a pirate or an ice cream etc). As well as this new 'natural' state in their design, they can also grow or drip legs of any size, which lets them wander around their environment.
The design of them is very silly though, they have tiny very thin legs which look like they could barely support their big bulbous Droplet heads, but that was intentional, I imagine them being really top-heavy and stumbling about all over the place!
Of course, that aesthetic is one thing on paper, but something completely different when bringing it to life! Luckily, Hiatt is a master craftsmen and rose to every challenge, striving to get it looking exactly the same as it did on paper!
So we set to work, well Hiatt was doing the real work, I just chipped in as much as I could, doing anything I could to help, assisting the master in doing the proper work!
The first thing that happening was taking off the 'horns', as Droplets no longer have these additions. Then it came time sand back and add a layer of primer to get things really smooth.
The next whole rest of the process was pure magic to me - Hiatt continued to work on the big guy whilst I was at work, and it wasn't until I next went up to the workshop that I saw the progress... I was blown away when I cast my eyes on it!
Now, I thought that adding legs would be a 'nice to have' and that there would have to be a lot of compromise between was the design was and what's physically possible to be created.
I was wrong, Hiatt has worked out a way to make it exactly the same, down to the millimetre!
He'd placed a steel plate in the underside of the Droplet, and then got 2 steel tubes, welded them into that plate base and used builders foam, injected inside the body, to really cement them in place!
At home, I'd designed the shape of the feet, and gave them a slightly tapered out feel, so they literally are like 2 little puddles at the bottom of the legs. Hiatt had taken that shape, cut the base out of steel then sculpted over the top of the bases, and tapered them by hand into the steel legs!
The legs themselves are a work of art, he hand-turned them each on a lathe so they both have the very subtle taper downwards instead of 'just' being 2 tubes.
The flat bottom of the Droplet body was built up, by hand and sculpted so that the curve meets the rest of the body, then Hiatt really put the finishing touches on - he tapered both legs where the met the bottom, so it really looks like the legs are 'dripping' out from the body!
The incredible sculpting complete and it was time to give him a lick of paint. Using spraypaint he was coated with a nice bright blue and when that dried, his 'face' was added. I really love the simplicity of the 'natural' Droplets, so just thought a pair of eyes would be nice, so using masking film and a circle cutter, Hiatt got his eyes spot on!
The last step was to get a protective layer on him. I asked my friend Lauren from The Grand Appeal for her contact who dealt with the clear coat lacquering of the Shaun in the City statues, and she gave me the details for Richard at Dent Magic here in South Bristol. He kindly said he could give Droplet the coat he deserves and hooked me up with an amazing prize, meaning I could afford to do it!
My lovely lady Jane helped me load him up in the car and drop him off at the body shop. A few hours later I received a picture from Dent Magic saying "He's done!". I about fell off my chair, this was the photograph that popped into my inbox...
I absolutely couldn't believe it. It was incredible, he was SO glossy! And with that, he was complete!
I cannot thank Hiatt at Sion Lane Workshop enough, he's gone above and beyond for a fun personal project and I'm hugely indebted to him for his time, craft and care! I've learnt so much just from hanging around the workshop and trying to make myself useful, so I'm hoping to add those skills to my own 'real' work, my Shaun in the City sculpture and future toys.
Thank you Hiatt, what you've created is absolutely incredible, you're the best! Be sure to contact Sion Lane Workshop for all your prop & set building needs!
I can't wait to see what people make of the giant Droplet at the TOYS exhibition and then hopefully he'll be on display at other events or things, I'd love him to be out and about and be seen, the glossy bad boy should be shown off I thinks!