All, Muertitas

Process Photos for “Spring From Death” Sisters!

Muertita Process for Spring 2014
Concept: Spring from Death

This post is for two reasons:
1.) To share my process because I love to see others share theirs. Seeing process is what got me believing I could do this in the first place.
2.) To show that my casting does not mean “mass production”. Each piece is still unique, and unlike any other. Resin casting will make these pieces less fragile, more archival, capture higher detail, and allow me to use materials closer to my concepts of these characters. This is different from sculpting each one individually with clay, though that will still happen from time to time when the concept and materials call for it.

I don’t make a ton of these, and I don’t make the same one twice. If you want to know when new Muertitas are available for purchase, you can sign up for my mailing list here.

Now for the process!

To show you the start of Momma Muertita #2, you can see my hilarious foil, wire, and baked eyeballs as my base! 

Just a few #process #muertita photos. Start: wire, foil, wood. Followed by #supersculpy.

Super-sculpey warms to body temperature to become soft and workable. However, if you have cold hands like me, you are gonna have a hard time. My husband devised this excellent way of keeping my sculpey warm and ready for my chilly, industrious fingers.

#supersculpy should come with the disclaimer: if you have naturally cold hands, you're gonna have a #hard time.

Close-up of some of the detailing I am able to do now that I’m making Momma Muertita #2 out of Super-sculpey. My past ladies were individually crafted out of air-drying clay, which made them very fragile, and not take this kind of detail as well. True, it takes me much longer to make her look like this, but if I can get a good mold going, I might be able to get a few daughters looking mighty spiffy!

Momma #muertita 2 detailing. Practicing texture techniques  from the #sculpting master @mattl21

Making the antlers out of wire, foil, and Super-sculpey! My past attempts broke in their mold AND the antlers…a few times. Also, the molds were a huge failure as well. I hope this new mold holds steady this time with these new, bigger antlers…
Some #process photos of #muertita antlers using wire, foil, and #supersculpy

Setting up the mold for casting my Muertitas with the talented special effect guru, Brian Blair. Check out those “key” holes around my antlers. This better work this time. Please oh please!
#Muertita casting setup with the talented (and patient) special effects guru Brian Blair. So much learning!

Went shopping and stocked up on flowers for my ladies! Just need to finish my mold, cast them successfully, and decorate!
All stocked up on flowers for my ladies! AKA the #muertita #sculptures

Head boards arrived! Just need stain and to mount the heads…once the paint is applied.
The wood boards arrived for my #muertitas! Weekend of sculpting and molds and casting is ahead of me!

Who needs a workout when you can build those arms with a slush mold? I hand tumble a thick layer or two on there, pack in some air at select locations to limit weight, then solid cast the rest.
My workouts these days. Started with a hand tumbled hollow cast, moving onto solid. #muertita #art #process

SUCCESS! The mold works! The joy! I sat cradling this firstborn for a while before I continued my next steps. I have to treasure the wins. So many thanks to Brian Blair for showing me the molding ropes and saving me even more trial and error.

After a few tests, I got to my final goal for these ladies: custom color mixing the resin itself by adding dyes and mixes of iridescent powders. This creates a basecoat that will peek through my acrylic paints and add a dewey iridescence where the paint is thinned.
Someone would like to say hello. She doesn't gave her face on yet, all natural ;) #muertita #casting #process

I LOVE mixing custom colors for my resins! I get such satisfaction from this step. It creates such a great base-coat and adds richness to my paint layers.
More muertita process

Time to dremel and smooth out edges and seams. No good lightning yet in the outdoor shed, but at least the pulverized resin only gets on me out there. Besides, headlamps are cool … ish … Well…PRACTICAL.
More muertita process

Time for hair, makeup, sealant, and mounting on wood.
#Muertita got her hair and make  up did. ;) will be an email soon about shows and available muertitas. Make sure you're on the list

Transport, set-up, hang out and photoshoot with the amazing Chris Rigg.

Ta da!
Spring From Death

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Special thanks goes to Matthew J. Levin (sculpy mastah) and Brian Blair (casting guru) for their patience and time while my noobness spilled out. Oh, and of course, thank you Internet for the vast knowledge shared upon your bandwidth. May your loa be strong.

Also, a big thanks to Miss Monster. She doesn’t know who I am, but her process posts made the craft of sculpting and mold making feel like an adventure I wanted to be on. Plus her creations are faaaaaaaantastic!

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Obligatory cute kitty share. I turn the floor heater on when working into the wee hours of the morning, and the kitties join me. Nocturnal friends FTW.

All, Inspiration

Open letter to Miss Monster and Chris Ryniak

On occasion I write an open letter to artists that inspire me. In this case it is creature creators Chris Ryniak and Miss Monster. Both are prolific, on the interwebs, kind to fans, and a source of inspiration to many Creators.

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Dear Chris and Mel,

You are inspiring me to be a better artist.

Melita, my friends and I fawn over your creations, and cheer when they go up on ebay. You have single handedly made me get into casting seriously. I have a page of bookmarks dedicated to your process photos, so whenever all these new terms and new workflow gets overwhelming, I look at your photos and I find calm. Then I get back to work.

Chris, your drawings and paintings make every line look so effortless and character driven. I hope to be able to cast such a spell with my work some day. Your sculpted work blows my mind, and makes me wonder how on earth that creature can exist for REALZ!

You both are giving a lot of us artists a fire in our bellies to keep at it. Recently you two had a bit o’ discussion on your tumblrs/blogs. I am quoting here:


This is something that has been addressed many times by creative professionals and entrepreneurs, but it never hurts to repeat. MOST of my day as an artist is not spent in an absinthe fueled rampage of feverishly tossing paint onto a canvas …sorry.  MOST of my day IS filled with drudgery: writing emails, planning projects, fielding phone calls, brand management, event planning, researching and gathering materials, design work, social media promotion, prep-work, varnishing, sanding, packing, shipping…etc….and somewhere in there is drawing, painting and sculpting.

For the audience, my job is to make it look like all I do is my artwork, but the truth is that I fill every position from CEO to janitor of Chris Ryniak industries.I have the added role of a single father, oh and I ALSO have a full-time job on top of all of this, not to mention owning a house that needs tending as well as all of the minutia that goes along with being a functioning human.

So what is the point?   well, I get a lot of comments like ” I wish I was where you are in your career” from young artists.  And the simple fact is, that much like losing weight,  becoming a functioning and mildly successful ANYTHING takes work, not wishing.  

Of course, this all depends what you want to accomplish, and how far you want to take it.  

The point is that next time you see your favorite artist doing really well, know that they doing a lot of work that you will never see.  

MELITA’s response

YEP. If if Chris doesnt mind id like to add to this: My full time job is art and im extremely grateful for this. But what some people, esp newer followers, dont realize is that i have been working towards this for over 10 years.

Some people get lucky and get a good break that allows them a solid career very quickly but a lot of us… it’s years of making art when you come home from a full or part time job, making work you might not be all that into to build your reputation and honestly a lot of time fielding bullshit/getting burned on projects/learning how to deal with people and clients. And some of us even have kids which is a full time job in itself ( so much respect for folks that can handle that on top of it all! )

I don’t want to discourage anyone from wanting to be a career artist but i do want to prepare you for the reality. Nobody did that for me and i wasted a lot of time not knowing what the hell i was doing and learning the hard way! And like Chris mentioned it’s a lot of not so fun backstage work that adds up really quickly. There have been many days where i dont even get to touch any projects because im packing orders, buying supplies,running errands, researching,doing cons, prepping for cons, reading, emailing, organizing, cleaning the workspace or um …writing stuff on tumblr. Guess i should get back to work! 😉

As someone who works full-time, leaving evenings and weekends for my art, this is a wonderful read. My schedule makes minutes feel precious.  When I am working on everything that supports my art, or  spending time learning instead of making, I get anxious. I get down on myself for not being productive enough with finished art. Its discussions like the one above which encourages artists like me to take a breath and just keep going forward, one step at a time. And when it comes from artists we respect and admire, it has extra longevity in our little spastic brains. (OOOh SHINY!)

Anywhoo, very many thanks.

Keep at it,