Loki’s face, take one

Today I assembled Loki’s face for the Odd and the Frost Giants production and, unsurprisingly, it didn’t go well. He is the god of mischief after all.

I had the pattern that I’d worked out for the rehearsal puppets. When I cut it out of the watercolor paper, it looked slightly odd. so I decided to go ahead and assemble the face in paper to remind myself of what I’d done.

While I know that I’d made the decision to have an asymmetrical face, I was no longer happy with it so decided to balance the two sides and lay it out at a slight angle on the wood so that the grain would give the impression of a lopsided face without actually building it that way.  After I traced the main part of the face, I had some trouble getting the marks for scoring to show up. Normally, I press down on the line and it transfers to the paper.  Wood veneer is not so simple.

So I poked holes in the pattern with a small nail and then used a pencil to draw dots on the veneer.  Without the paper in place, it is easier to see what I mean about the slight angle of the grain.

Normally I score paper with a bone folder, but the woodgrain requires me to very, very lightly score the surface with an Exacto knife.  Even with that, I have to soak the skin in hot water to make it pliable enough to bend.  After the first soaking, Loki’s upper lip was too stiff to make a bend that I wanted so I had to toss him back into the water. He spent a lot of time bathing for this process.

To hold the head together, I used a combination of spring clips, tin foil and a vise.  The challenge is that while he is wet enough to bend easily, he is too wet for anything to adhere to. So I have to get him into approximately the right position and then wait for the surface to dry enough to take tape or glue but before it gets so dry that I can’t bend him.  It’s a very narrow window of time.  During the process of assembling him, I realized I’d gone through the snout with the scoring.  Although I was able to patch that spot, another tear happened on his right cheek that wasn’t repairable.

After looking at him, I think that the pattern is flawed. It’s a challenging set of folds to begin with and meant for a more pliable medium than wood veneer. I’m going to spend today working out a simpler paper pattern and then trying again with another piece of veneer.

Just by way of comparison, I worked out the pattern for Thor’s head with only two attempts. Odin’s head also took about two tries.  This will be my eighth attempt at a pattern for Loki’s head.  God of Mischief indeed.

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