Balls! Table tennis balls to be exact (well to be really exact, one table tennis ball). Now if you can remember all the way back to last year I built this little “nasty” for “Monster May(hem)” 2020…
And I thought I’d try and do something along the same lines this year, but where to get inspiration…then one morning a couple of months back I was flicking through the channels in search of something to watch while I chomped down my “Crunchy Nut Cornflakes” when I was presented with the vision of loveliness that was the 1958 classic, “The Trollenberg Terror” (Also known as “The Creeping Eye!”), a bit of Sci/Fi horror set up in the mountains of Switzerland, now I had seen this many years ago, but this didn’t stop me watching till the end of course where the “Terrors” in question are finally revealed as giant “eyeballs” with tentacles…Perfect fodder for a “Monster May(hem)” entry!
Now to be true to the movie creatures it would need to be about the size of a tennis ball in 28mm scale, and use a “ton” of greenstuff to boot!! So I decided like “Keith” last year I would put my own “spin” on the thing and base it upon a table tennis ball instead making it about 40mm tall (so approximately half size), therefore still slightly bigger and imposing next to the average 28mm figure. First job thereafter was to jump onto “Amazon” and order some “Ping Pong” balls (It worked out cheaper to buy five rather than one, and the cats appreciated the extra’s), and once these arrived it was all hands to the pumps (or rather the putty!)
So first job was to cover the entire ball with greenstuff, this was actually harder than you’d think, this was done to make it less uniform and slightly more textured, and thus more organic. It also has the added advantage that when I come to the next stage it should be easier to blend the new pieces of putty into the surface. One rather unexpected aspect of the putty covered ball was how tactile it was, there was just something really satisfying about just holding it in my hand (hey, if this makes me sound like a bit of a wierdo’ then so be it, but there was). I stuck it in this plastic cap to dry overnight. (Picture A).
Next day it was time to add one of my trademark “support sausages” around the base of the ball (actually there wasn’t really a “base” as such, but the lid I’d put in yesterday had left a ring, so I hid it by putting the ring around that), I also added another support piece down the front, this is where the eye will be “built up” over the next couple of days. (Picture B). A ball of putty was mixed up next day and pushed into place for the eye (well technically it’s all one big eye, but this will be the eye within the eye if you get what I mean, and I’m not sure I do!), anyway this was then smoothed out to a rough circular dome shape and then I pushed the back of one of my colour shapers into the middle to form the pupil, (C). I then added what putty I had left in the approximate place the front tentacles will attach.
A bit more interesting today, as I began adding the surround to the “little” eye, (I can’t really call this an eyelid, as it doesn’t have a “lid” as such), this was a sausage of putty draped over the eye, that was then smoothed outward and down with my flat colour shaper, before I “dragged” some texture into it with my pointed shaper and the outer rear edge of my pointed probe (look at the picture on the right of my header to see these tools), once I was happy with this I turned my attention to the space under the eye, now on the original this is really just a “gap” but I wasn’t that into that look so I started pushing some putty about and ended up with this “mouth” shape, I dragged the point of my probe up and down and got a ribbon effect that looked suitably 50’s sci/fi(ish). Lastly today I added the “cups” at the front where the front tentacles will go. (D). So once all this was dry I turned my attention to the back of the ball and attached a flattened piece of putty here and repeated the process from around the eye, this time in a “fan” or “tree” shape working outward from the centre bottom (E).
Next day it was a case of filling the space between the front and back textured areas. So a long flattened length of putty was laid down in this area, and more pushing and dragging later the whole ball was re-covered (F). At this point I did wonder why I bothered covering the ball with putty to start with, but oh well too late now!. Next on the agenda was to build up the “tentacle ring” around the base of the model, so more putty was mixed up and added here, pushing in texture with the side of a cocktail stick, the side in my probe and the edge of my flat tipped colour shaper, this was done to create a ridged affect not unlike what you see on an elephants trunk, I also added the rear two sockets for the two back tentacles (G).
The tentacles were of course next, though this proved to be a bit of a disaster! I started with the front two, rolling out two tapered sausages as normal, but I wanted to get a texture on them similar to the side pieces I’d done yesterday, so I stupidly thought rolling them against the bristles of a brush would give the desired effect, it didn’t! All it did was cover them in hair! (H) (Shouldn’t have used the brush we use on the floor really thinking about it!). I then tried against the comb as I’ve done before but still wasn’t happy, anyway I twisted them into shape and left them to dry, and went off scratching my head on what to do… Looking at them again the next day (and pulling off as many hairs as I could with the tweezers!) I really liked the shape of them, they almost looked like they were being held up by strings near the tip, and had a great “rubber monster” look to them, but I wasn’t happy with the finish on them at all!! Anyway I decided to plough on with the back pair, these I just wanted to be “arched” in the middle so as to look as if they were being used to push the creature along, so two more tapered sausages were rolled out and this time I just rolled them against the comb (so no hairs to contend with!) And left them to dry (I).
Next day the front two were stuck in place (J), followed by the back two, after much back and forth over that to do next, and a lot (a lot!!) of thought I came to the conclusion that the best option was going to be to recover the tentacles bit by bit and add the texture like I did around the bottom, so this is what I did, working on opposite tentacles (right front and left back, then vice versa) I built them up in three sections (bottom, middle and tip), letting them dry between sculpting sessions, so as not to damage the sections I’d just done with my “sausage fingers!”, until we got to this, the finished article.
Now all I have to do is base him up and paint him before the end of the month, Oh and last year I called my monster “Keith” so I thought I’d better give this one a name too, so what have I called the little fellow?….. I thought Simon seemed appropriate, (S’eye’mon, get it? Suit yourself!).
Till next time, stay safe and cheers Roger.