Introduction: Pillar Gargoyles
This is a pair of static props placed on the tops of gate columns leading into the gated main drive of the property. The desire of the crew was to have two gargoyles placed at the entrance to the gate leading up to the large abbey. This would give a menacing and interesting look to the front of the display, as well as frame the large cemetery sign that reaches over the driveway from column to column.
Step 1: The Brick Base
The bases of the two gargoyles was made of plywood and then covered in pink insulation foam. The foam was dremeled to create a grout pattern that matched the existing brick work on the column.
Making pink insulation foam look like brick:
1. Pink foam has a grain, make sure the grain is horizontal with your brick pattern.
2. Draw out the 8’x4’ block pattern. Brick rectangles overlap in the middle of each row.
3. Dremel out the grout lines with a Dremel Trio, circular saw or Dremel Polishing Tip.
4. Rough up the surface with a wire brush using horizontal strokes.
5. Clear excess foam from the grout lines using a stiff bristle brush or air compresser nozzle.
6. Use a heatgun to open up the grout lines and scuff marks, taking care not to burn or overheat the foam. This will also create a hard finished surface.
The brick base was done to attempt to deceive the eye of the viewer as to where the column begins and the prop starts. A row of two bricks was textured into the base, and then a plaque was placed in the center of each gargoyles street facing side.
Step 2: Plaques
These plaques were created by using a pink insulation foam sheet that was grouted to give it a beveled edge, then a laser cut plaque was placed on the beveled foam. The plaques read “Cauda Deamon, Bellam Williak, 1000”, and “Deamon, Bellam Wiliak, 1000”.
The idea of creating plaques to place on the front was to relay to the viewer that what they were looking at was a carved art piece that had been placed at the entrance to the cemetery centuries ago, and not a living breathing monster.
The name of the sculptor on the plaque creates a real world connection and also creates a mystery for the view, they may ask themselves who the sculptor was, if they were a real person, and so forth. This creates a mystery and interesting “missing story” element to the prop. The dates of the sculpture also provide a date and era for the other props and structures within the yard display.
Step 3: Sculpture Bases
We now move on to the sculpture bases that the gargoyle statues are resting on. These vertical pieces were created out of white insulation foam that was carved and aged using dremels scouring pads and wire brushes.
The structures needed to be able to support the sculpture of the gargoyles themselves and provide stability for the prop. They also served the very important function of making the viewer key into the fact that these props are sculptures and not monsters.
Attention to the needs and requirements of marble and stone sculpting was applied to the construction of the bases, the ability of the sculptor to have free standing portions of marble or stone is limited and we tried to keep that in mind by using the base as anchor points for the sculpture.
Several skulls were placed in the foam on the vertical bases to give a interesting visual look and break up what could have been large areas of painted white foam.
The idea was that the entire piece was a singe sculpture so there was a desire to make the negative space of the sculpture interesting and tell a story.
Since the yard display is a graveyard we wanted the gargoyles to be resting on human remains to really convey that the gargoyles were watching over not only the graveyard but also the bones of the deceased within. The skulls were poured from 5 pound two part expanding foam (Smooth-On) then cut with a band saw and shaped with a dremel and belt sander to fit within the areas of the base designated for them.
Once a placement had been decided the foam was lightly dremeled back to create shallow voids for the skulls to rest in. then another two part foam of the 2 pound variety was used to fill the cracks and engulf parts of the skull. This overfill was then carved back with a dremel making sure to leave visible carving marks to really give the viewer the idea that the skulls were carved out of the material and not simply glued on.
Step 4: Creating the Gargoyles - the Head and Body
We now move on to the gargoyles themselves beginning with the head. The head was sculpted by first removing large portions of and then adding new features to a model of a human skull. The cranium was elongated and the brow brought forward. The eye sockets were enlarged significantly and opened on the sides. From this point a mold was made and a plastic shelled foam replica was made.
The body of the gargoyle was made from the parts of two plastic injection molded skeletons. First the skeletons were completely disassembled and the flashing from the molding process was cut away with a combination of a xacto knife and a dremel grinding tool.
The legs were fashioned out of three leg bones each, this allowed a second joint to be created giving the gargoyle a cat like gait, and inhuman profile.
The ribcage was reformed using a heat gun and gloves, by heating up the plastic of the ribcage and applying pressure to it in a rotating manner we were able to round out the ribcage and make it more feline in appearance.
The arms were kept essentially human while the hands were heated and the fingers bent individually to give the gargoyle a unique and more vibrant look.
The spine was shortened by two vertebrae, this was accomplished by cutting the spine in two parts cutting out the vertebrae and then placing a PVC pipe inside the spine via a hole in the tailbone. The two parts of the spine were screwed into the PVC to create a unified whole. Two part foam was poured into the spine and then dremeled back to create a seamless look.
Step 5: The Gargoyles - the Wings
We now move onto the wings of the gargoyles. The wings were made by cutting a ribcage into two pieces along the sternum. These were then flattened by applying heat with a heat gun, and then placing a weighted board onto them while they cooled.
These parts were then sprayed with a spray adhesive and a garbage bag was glued to the front face of the ribcage. This was then placed onto a table and two part expanding foam was poured over the bones.
Once dry the garbage bag was removed and a dremel was used to shape the wings face and edges. These wings wee then attached to arm bones which were placed onto the gargoyles backs. A claw was formed from a cast of a dinosaur bone and attached to the end of the wing.
Step 6: Attaching Gargoyle to Base
The entire gargoyle was then reassembled and placed onto the base.
Two part expanding foam was poured over the gargoyles hands feet and any other parts that attached to the base or foam in any way. This was then carved back with a dremel tool to give a carved look to the prop.
Every joint was first screwed together and then two part foam was poured into reservoirs made from painters tape to solidify the joints of the gargoyle.
Step 7: Painting and Detailing
After the gargoyle is assembled and attached to the base we start with a base coat of flat black exterior paint applied with a paint sprayer to every exposed piece of foam. Do not use spay paint as it will damage the foam.
We then painted the grout lines on the faux bricks white with exterior flat latex paint. We took swatches to match the paint color for the bricks to match the existing bricks. They were also painted with exterior flat house paint.
The gargoyles are then painted with two different shades of gray exterior house paint. The darker gray is first and applied with a large 4 inch cheap exterior house painting brush that has be well used so the edges are frayed. Use the brush to dry brush a coat of the dark gray paint to cover 80% of the black surface of the gargoyle. Be sure to leave black paint showing in all the recessed areas. Let this coat dry before going to the next step.
The second coat, a lighter gray exterior flat house paint is again dry brushed on to cover about 60% of the gargoyle. In this instance you are wanting to just hit the high parts of the statue to bring out the details. Let this coat dry before going to the next step.
We then 'aged' the prop. We do this with a mixture of water and black exterior house about 50/50. Take a squirt bottle of water and spray where you want your drip areas to be and then take a small paint brush with your watered down black paint and drip where the water naturally runs down the structure, be sure to take a dry rag to wipe down the drips so they look like weather washed brink and not dripping mascara.
This makes the statue look more weathered and worn.
You should now have a complete gargoyle statue for your Halloween display.