Wednesday, November 18, 2015


I have been working on a project that is a part of the online workshop conducted by Michael deMeng called Plumed Serpents and Moon Goddesses.  The first project in the course was Mictlantecuhtli Skully which involved various techniques that I decided to incorporate into a slightly different Aztec god, Mictecacihuatl.  According to The Fountain of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, "in Aztec mythology, Mictecacihuatl is Queen of Mictlan, the underworld, ruling over the afterlife with Mictlantecuhtli, another deity who is her husband. Her role is to watch over the bones of the dead and preside over the ancient festivals of the dead. These festivals evolved from Aztec traditions into the modern Day of the Dead after synthesis with Spanish traditions. She now presides over the contemporary festival as well. Mictecacihuatl is known as the Lady of the Dead, since it is believed that she was born, then sacrificed as an infant. Mictecacihuatl was represented with a defleshed body and with jaw agape to swallow the stars during the day."  Here is a depiction of her from one of the ancient Codex of Mexico.

The first decision on the project is what to make the base form.  After a trip to my basement, I came up with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, a plastic form that is going to be perfect for this goddess. The additional items were a toy shield, an ink holder and a buggy step.  

I remember how excited I was when I bought this shield but I also remember how I overspent for it when I paid $10.  Today, selected as the backdrop for this project, I am much happier as it is going to be perfect.  The first job is to drill a hole so I can secure it to Hulk.  

Based on one of Michael's workshop suggestions, I decided to Verday this shield with bronze and the rusting solution.  Here is the progress:

With the addition of the nails as protective spikes on the shield, I was able to set that aside.  

Another suggestion from Michael's workshop was using eggshells as a base for the texture on the Hulk.  (Under terms of full disclosure--I am glad I tried this but I am NEVER doing this again.)  Before the texture went on, I wanted to build us some facial structure using Aves clay.  

Another thing I had to wrestle with was how was going to attached a three pound buggy step to a flimsy plastic form with the whole thing falling on its face.

From Michael's workshop there came a suggestion to use Great Stuff as a texturing item but ironically that sparked me to use it for its original intended use--to fill a space.  With Hulk full of this Great Stuff, I had the structure I need to attached the buggy step.  

Michael teaches the philosophy of "inherent thingyness" which means letting a found object's core structure inform the piece.  Here I was able to use the bolt hole from the buggy step to place a bolt both through it and Hulk's face to secure the two together...but also create an armature for the tongue I wanted to attach to the face.  Next up--time for painting.  

The inherent thingyness of the buggy step also lent itself to the snake I wanted to wrap around Mictecacihuatl's head.  A visit to my vast stash of plastic animals in my basement led to a big surprise--I have a ton of tiny snakes but none the size needed for this project.  So--Plan B--I sacrificed this dinosaur for the good of the Aztecs.  

Now it was time to wrap the snake body with plastic bags.  This was covered with a concoction of glue and varnish--and set on fire.  WARNING:  this is most likely very toxic and that is why the next photo show Mictecacihuatl outside just before it was Flame On!

Quetzalcoatl (Marcelosan)

Above you will find Quetzalc√≥atl, the god known as the Plumed Serpent who is a mix of bird and rattle snake.  Below is Dino the Dinosaur who is about to get plumed.  

The last step in Snake Building 101 was to top coat the project with Kroma Crackle.  Because time did allow, I used their method rather than the expedited technique Michael teaches in his workshop.  

This set up, designed to allow me to complete the project by attaching the shield and filling the Hulk form with more Great Stuff led my wife Denice to suggest this might not be the wisest use of our living room.  I had to point the heat gun at her and suggest she step away from the assemblage.  While the photo below looks tame, there was a bulging mass of Great Stuff weeping out of Hulk's butt that I did have to carve down after it cured.   

With the body now firm, I could attach the inkwells which from now on will be referred to as the breast plate.  

Many times in a project's development, there comes a time when I look at it and say, "Something is missing."  In this case, it was some side force, some horizontal dimension.  At first I was thinking arms but after a trip to the basement, I came up with antlers.  

A word of caution--if you are going to Dremel off bone for a project, head outside and wear a mask!  If you think that was the scariest part of this idea, you would be wrong because now I had to drill into Mictecacihuatl's head.  After all the work I had put into it already, I was really nervous this Aztec brain surgery would go awry and I would be done before I was finished.  The good news was the drill worked and the previous applied Great Stuff did its job and helped make a great divot to clay in the antlers.  

What the f...??  This still looked wrong to me and I knew why.  It still needed the horizontal dimension that the original idea had suggested...arms!

While Baby Jesus has a thematic quality to it, it was not appropriate to this project so I had to modify our Lord and Savior into something else more in the spirit of the Aztec's religion.  

So I decided to add Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec sun and war god, who is often represented in art as either a hummingbird or an eagle.


So with my thanks to Michael deMeng and the Plumed Serpent and Moon Goddesses workshop, I have Mictecacihuatl.  

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