Monday, January 19, 2009

Copper Pachyderm Ears

I was at the local thrift shop looking for vacuum cleaner hoses to use as the lower trunk when I stumbled across these copper lamp reflectors. Now, I am comfortable working with leather and resin, but I have little experience working with metal. As a utilitarian sound enhancer, metal would probably function better than leather, but I didn’t know a way to form it and have it look good.

So when I saw these reflectors at the thrift shop, and a scratch test revealed them to be copper, I knew that they might serve me very well. As I mulled over how to adapt them to the pachyderm project, I realized that there were five criteria by which to judge them.

1) Would they look historically correct i.e. fit into the 19th century.
2) Would they be believable as a functioning sound amplifier.
3) Would they have an element of fantasy that was steampunk, and not just Victorian.
4) Would they integrate well with the rest of the mask, and
5) Would they in some way resemble elephant ears.

I felt that I could accomplish all of this by just a few steps: Stripping away the brushed antique finish, polish the copper, cover the crimped outer edge with “bomber brown” leather, and antique the whole thing.

All in all I think it works. The leather trim hides the 1960’s looking crimped edge, plus the brown color matches the rest of the mask. I am torn at this point whether to leave the copper polished or to tarnish it with copper sulfate, but I can decide that later, after I see all the parts together.

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