Sometimes shooting the pieces that Jenn makes can be a real chore. Once they are complete the pieces truly have a life of their own often dictating which side is their better angle, what lighting they look best in, and even occasionally going as far as to demand compensation for their time. What divas!!!
Case and point, here are some behind the scenes pictures of my most recent photo shoot with RAWR-o-saur and Labbit. From my experience the animals that Jenn creates are often the hardest to work with, but neither Jenn nor I expected this...
Silly Labbit, don't you know smoking can have adverse effects on your health!?
The Labbit population in our house has exponentially increased in the last couple of months and to combat this overpopulation problem Jenn has taken it upon herself to change this rascally Labbit once and for all.
Here you can see the very beginning stage of what will eventually become RAWR-o-saur. At this point, Jenn has picked the colors, sketched what the face will generally look like, and started to patch the seams of the factory mold.
To give this Labbit the perfect dinosaur shape Jenn needed to restructure his bum.
Here you can see her patching the Labbit's backside and smoothing out the clay to create a more cohesive curve. This curve will eventually be critical to creating a perfect bond with the tail that will later be added.
With all of the patches complete and all the holes filled, Jenn has begun to add the layers of clay that will become the "skin" of this dino.
Here you can see her prepping a piece of clay that she will put through a pasta maker in order to give each piece a consistent thickness. She will then patch the pieces together by smoothing out the obvious seams by hand.
The Labbit is almost completely covered with clay at this point. You can also clearly see all of Jenn's fingerprints along with minor imperfections on the clay that will later be taken care of as she begins to texture the piece.
With the piece now covered, she can truly begin the transformation process and focus on the features that will take it from a Labbit to a dinosaur.
Slowly but surely Labbit is getting the features needed to be more dino-like.
Here Jenn is working on the iconic fan that can be found on all triceratops. The second and fourth clay bumps are the original ears while the first, third, and fifth were handmade and added by Jenn. Eventually these bumps will be smoothed out to create a sturdy headpiece for this dino.
The last crucial piece to the body is now being added. The tail, which proves to be tricker than planned, goes through several design phases to get that perfect shape. It is completely handcrafted from clay with no armature on the inside.
With the tail added, Jenn smooths out the fan and starts to add the texture.
With little to go off in terms of what dino skin may actually look like, Jenn takes her own approach and makes it uniquely hers. Each dot is ultimately painstakingly added one-by-one with a miniature dowel rod.
With a fair portion of the head textured, Jenn begins to add the facial features.
The piece which is a kawaii interpretation--or rather perhaps a realistic interpretation of what a triceratops used to look like--will use bright colors to make everything pop.
At this point, the horns and eyes are adhered to the body and represent the exact position of the face found in the original sketch.
Some additional texture along with some of the smaller details are now being added to the body.
The horns, for instance, have now been given rings around the base to make them appear as if they are growing out of the head.
Likewise, we can also see Jenn preparing the next step which will be the "spikes" found on top of the fan.
The spheres are now being added and carefully positioned to be more symmetrical.
Currently, the yellow balls have not become part of the piece and are just placed on the head to give Jenn an idea of what she wants them to look like. As she continues to fiddle with there positions she will one by one lock them down and also give them some additional detail.
Cheeks and a mouth have now been added to RAWR. And while this little dino may look happy, Jenn's face probably would tell a different story as it is back to more strategic texturing. At this point, RAWR is a little more than half way done.
If you ever wondered what an underbelly of a dinosaur looked liked, here is your chance to find out.
Currently, the underside is almost complete with only the pads left to be textured and some little details to be added. If you look closely Jenn has now signed her name to the piece as she begins to put the finishing touches on it.
It's time for a pedicure!
Here RAWR receives her toenails representing the completion of the head and the bottom of the piece.
Just for good measures we check to see how RAWR looks on her feet. Consider this the first of many glamour shots to follow.
Only the back and a few minor details remain before it will be time to bake the piece.
Here RAWR has been carefully placed on a piece of paper and on top of a couple of boxes so that it will be easy to transport her to the oven. Until the piece is baked, Jenn will only touch the remainder of the dino that has not yet been textured.
With the texturing complete and more dots than we care to count, Jenn now adds the final spikes to RAWR's back.
Yet again she carefully places these pieces first eyeballing their distance before actually adding them to the dino. Much like the spikes on the head these will be flatten and given additional detail before all is said and done. At this point all the clay is still raw.
Next stop: the oven.
Here Jenn will bake RAWR for 30 minutes at a temperature of 250 degrees and hope that nothing goes wrong. If any opening or crack has not been patched from the original toy, the clay on RAWR will separate as the heat looks for a way to escape.
Good luck, RAWR.
After what could have been a second extinction RAWR made it out of the oven 100% intact.
Here are pictures of RAWR taken at the park, not Jurassic, as we release him into the wild.
Overall, from start to finish RAWR took about two weeks to complete while he was conceptually alive for more than a month.