Introduction: Draping Kali's Face

About: I re*make mobility devices and materials and give them new lives. I re*use often. And sometimes I staple drape.

Now that Kali's face is sculpted, it's time to drape it! In case you're not familiar with the term, draping means creating a pattern over a form. Drafting a pattern is done on paper with measurements, rulers, and a lot of math.

I'm re-making an old aluminum walker into Kali, the multi-armed, three-eyed Hindu goddess of time and empowerment. Kali is the feminine form of 'Kala', the Sanskrit term for Time. Her "skin" is made out of leather remnants and pieces of old jackets, skirts, and pants. In this portion, I draped her face.

Here are the tools I used:

A work table

Pellon left over from an upholstery project

Quilting pins

Sharp fabric scissors

Kitchen shears (also called utility shears)

Kali's face from the last tutorial

Sharpie pens

Sewing machine, polyester sewing thread and a size 14 universal needle

And many time-outs to feel up my face.

Check out my other Instructables if you'd like to make some mobility art of your own. Or take a peek at Opulent Mobility if you want to know why I make such fancy scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs. The call for submissions for Opulent Mobility 2016 is now open, so please send in your art and inventions dealing with mobility, disability, and accessibility. I'd love to see your ideas!

Step 1: Third Eye and Nose

Some of the foam pieces I used to shape Kali's face weren't staying in place, so my first step was to tape them down and trace around them with a Sharpie. After that, I got excited and added dimension to her third eye and then draped that eye and her forehead without taking any pictures of the process. Oops. Luckily I took more pictures later.

Kali's third eye faces up and down on her forehead. I drew out the eye in the last tutorial. Before draping it, I added depth and structure to the eye, using a glass terrarium stone as her eyeball and shaped foam rod for her upper and lower eyelids. (Take a look at the last tutorial if you want to see that process.) I then took out a sheet of Pellon left over from an upholstery project and used it to drape her eye, forehead, eyebrows and nose bridge. You can see the final stage of third eye draping in picture #3, where I'm pinning the Pellon to shape her upper eyelid.

Pellon is a thin, flexible paper-like material. It's used in upholstery to cover up the undersides of chairs and sofas. It's also used for interfacing collars and cuffs. Pellon isn't very durable, but I had a lot of it, it was free, and it's easy to drape and draw on. White Pellon is also a little bit see-through, so I could see my Sharpie lines for the eyes through the material and trace them with ease.

Once the top part of Kali's face was done, I moved on to the left side of her nose. I cut a piece of Pellon a bit larger than the area I wanted to cover and pinned it down to the left side of the nose bridge along the Sharpie line. I then pinned the other side of the Pellon down to shape it to the side of her nose. I drew in Sharpie lines at all the pins, trimmed the nose bridge edge down and re-pinned the side again. This changed the shape just a little bit, so I re-drew the side of the nose and crossed out the old line. I then repeated the process on the right side of her nose and trimmed off the extra Pellon so give myself about 1/4" of seam allowance all the way around the edges of each piece.

Step 2: Nostrils and Upper Lip

I laid Kali on her back and worked on the underside of her nose. I draped the shape, marked notches to show where the upper nose pieces lined up to the new piece and drew in nostril shapes. This took some time because the area was so small. I had to pin and re-pin the nostrils several times.

Draping above the upper lip didn't take long at all, but working out the indented center was tricky. I went to the mirror and took a good look at the indentation below my nose and above my lip, and then did a little research. I thought that area was called a "cupid's bow", but I was wrong. Apparently that's the name for the little v-shape right above the center of the lip. The center groove is called the philtrum.

I drew lines to mark the outside edges and center of the groove and then took a look at Kali's right eye.

My sculpture of Kali is based on research, but I used my own face as a guideline. It's an old joke that designers and artists end up drawing, sculpting or painting versions of themselves. This is true. No matter how much research material you have, it's easier to work from a living human body than from 2-dimensional images. Why wouldn't we use ourselves as reference points? It's very convenient!

Step 3: Brow and Right Eye

My next step was to drape the brow ridge, which is the area below the eyebrow and above the top eyelid. I pinned, traced and trimmed Pellon to fit the area and then drew out her right eye. I draped the upper eyelid next, moved down to the under eye and cheekbone area and then draped the lower lid.

These pictures don't really give a good idea of the amount of time I spent looking at my eyes in the mirror and poking at my bone structure. Eyes are amazingly complex shapes! I also researched skulls. Real eyeballs are set into the skull, and I wasn't prepared to drill eye sockets in my mannequin head. A lot of the work I did was figuring out ways to create the depth and dimension of an eye socket without performing major surgery.

If I ever drape a face again, I'll build a skull base first.

Step 4: Left Eye and Cheeks

Draping the left eye was a lot like draping the right side. The only thing I changed was the order of events. I draped and marked the upper eye ridge and under eye areas before I touched the eyelids. That seemed to work out better.

The cheeks took extra time because I wanted each cheek to be a single pattern piece. One of the tricky parts about draping Kali's face was deciding where to put the seams. Dividing the top of the face was simple. There were natural "seam lines" at each eyelid, at the brows, at the nose bridge and on either side of the nose. Draping a seam line at the top of each cheekbone made sense, but the next logical place to make a seam was at the jawline. And I couldn't get the Pellon to shape around the curve of the cheek without putting in another seam somewhere.

Once I decided to pin in little darts at the edges of the lip area it was easy to shape the Pellon to fit each cheek. The darts created a smile line.

Step 5: Lips and Tongue

Before draping the lips, I needed to remove the foam tongue. Once that was out of the way the lips were easy to drape. I laid Pellon pieces over each lip and traced out the lines. On the lower lip, I added a little bit on the inside edge and sewed a row of gathering stitches right inside of the inside line. I pulled on the bottom gathering thread to ease in the fabric. That helped the inside edge fit nicely inside of the mouth. I pinned both Pellon lips in place and pinned the tongue back into position.

Gathering stitches can be done by hand or by sewing machine. If you set your sewing machine to the longest possible stitch (or make large stitches by hand) and leave a good-sized tail of thread at the beginning and end of the stitching line, you can pull on the bottom thread and gather your material in. If you pull it tight, it's called gathering. If you pull it a little bit, it's called easing.

To drape the tongue, I started with the center crease. I pinned the Pellon into the crease and then smoothed the edges over to the edges. I cut out another Pellon piece and loosely pinned it to the bottom of the tongue, and then pinned the top and bottom pieces together all around the edges, working from side to side. After that was done, I checked out the profile. The tongue curve looked good, so I moved on to the chin and neck.

Step 6: Chin and Neck and a Little Clive Barker

The chin was draped with a seam down the center and a little dart right at the tip. I wasn't sure about having a center seam, but I figured that the tongue would cover it up. After that, draping the neck was a breeze.

I drew lines on the neck that echoed the curved lines around Kali's body. I laid out Pellon pieces on each area, traced my lines with Sharpie, trimmed the pieces 1/4" outside of the lines and pinned them in place one by one. I added cross marks at the back of the neck where some of the pattern pieces came together in odd ways. Other than that, it took almost no time in comparison to the rest of the face. I then stepped back to take a look.

The drape looked great and Kali looked a little bit like Pinhead from Hellraiser. Excellent news!

Step 7: Tiara Time

The final step was to draw out lines on Kali's tiara and to drape them too. This part went just as fast as the neck did, and involved exactly the same steps. I drew out lines, traced around them on Pellon, trimmed out each piece and pinned them in place. It was so satisfying to get the drape completed since it took me such a long time to sculpt her face!

And I was really fond of her profile. I almost didn't want to start on the next part because I loved the look of her with all of those pins sticking out of her face. But no! It was time to move on.

Thanks for sticking around for a very long and involved art work process. In the next tutorial I'll start building Kali's face for real.