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Bosch Creatures In 3-D

In a previous post, we decided we’d each try to make a the creature from one the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, and share the results here. It took a bit longer than we anticipated, but here at last are our creations.

The original of one project is found in The Garden of Earthly Delights. If you zoom in and look closely any Bosch painting, you’ll see why it was hard to choose among the many creatures, structures, and fanciful machines. You will find this smug bird near the top right corner of the middle section of the triptych.

The body is paper mache over an armature made from a balloon taped to a piece of styrofoam for the head and neck. The legs and feet are long, heavy-duty drinking straws wrapped in macrame yarn. The beak is built of paper mache around a metal rib from an inside-out umbrella that I found abandoned on the street. The fruit (is it a fruit?) on the beak is another paper mache-covered balloon. I should have started the body with a much smaller balloon; keeping it to scale resulted in quite a large creature – about 106 cm, or 42″ tall. One difficulty was that the bird wanted to fall forward on its face. This was solved by poking a hole near the neck and pouring in sand, gravel, and glue to weight the back, and also by attaching it with DIY paper clay to the base it sits on.

The second creature is inspired by another Bosch triptych – The Temptation of St. Anthony. You’ll find the original near the middle of the far left side in the first panel of the triptych.

To make this figure, I started with an empty plastic water bottle to form the body of the inner fish; I cut off the spout and taped it in a slightly squashed, ovoid shape. To make the tail of the fish that is being consumed, I started with a tin foil armature, and then covered that with air-dry clay.

For both fish, I used paper mache for the fins and details, with string and glue under a layer of tin foil to create more delicate ridges and details.

I made the outer red armour using a layer of red paper over a shape made of chicken wire; the chicken wire is rigid enough to hold the top open and round. The red tail is more tin foil under red paper.

When I assembled my three primary components, the front fish was too heavy, and kept tipping the structure forward, so I weighted down the inside of the plastic bottle with some gravel-type stuff I had around and hot glued it in place (although the whole thing still rattles if you shake it).

The base of the top tower is a toilet paper tube with a paper cone on top of it, with skewers and toothpicks to make the flags. I used relief paste to add the metallic details on the tower. Obviously I cheated a bit; I didn’t try to make the little guy inside, and I assumed the round thing in the foreground is a kind of shield, and not part of the fish proper.

It’s about 38 cm long by 28 cm tall (15″ x 11″).

This was a fun and challenging project. We both had a fascinating time exploring the paintings up close, trying to decide what to make. And technical problems surfaced as we worked, which were interesting to overcome.

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