It takes a lot of work to look this gorgeous and Aunt Acid has her own team of Plaestheticians, working tirelessly to keep up appearances. Please, someone—give these people a tire. (That’s not a promise, that’s a tread…whaddaya mean, that joke is flat!!!?) But seriously.
I promised my dear friend and manager Shirley Eugest that as soon as my eyes were open and somebody was home that I’d get back to work on my memoirs. Though beginning in the last century, I was NOT born in a log cabin. And it is only now that I’ve found my “voice” and my true form, thanks to the miracles of science. Without a sense of humor, I just wouldn’t be here at all. My origins are organic, but it is through plastic surgery that I have become the wonder that is me.
This exciting tale of thermoplasticity is NOT for the squeamish.If the sight of raw polymers makes you pale, READ NO FURTHER. BE AWARE!! Pregnant women, young children, the tightly laced and closed minded should leave now.
A nurse will be on duty to tend to any who stay but become faint at the mysteries of science we are now about to reveal……the story of Aunt Acid, or: Original Syn(thetics)
Shame over their plastic origins need not stain those who have been Scotchgarded while young, nor those who are made of strong stuff(ing). Synthetic does NOT mean “unreal” or “unworthy.” There is beauty to be found in everything. Aunt Acid has bravely given permission to share her story here, that others may learn from it and find it within themselves to respect the bravery of those who are born different. Or born differently, as the case may be.
Here is her treatment history as told by the team leader Ms. Dixie, CUP (Certified Unilateral Plaesthetician).
The preparation of the head begins with a foundation of butternut squash. Crushed brown masking paper is added at the top of the squash to build up the cranial (forehead) area. The nose is built up using folded paper and held in place with masking tape. A layer of tape is used to unify the basic shapes.
Newspaper strips are torn to use as paper mache with a mixture of white PVA (polyvinylacrylate) glue diluted with water to make it thinner but not drippy. 1/2 tsp. of apple cider vinegar is added to acidify the glue and increase resistance to mold and mildew.
More folded masking paper is used to pad the cheekbones and chin at the front of the jaw area, and at the top of the head.
All are held in place with masking tape. The masking paper is soft and doesn’t leave unwanted creases. A layer of tape is applied to further smooth this layer and hold everything firmly in place. Plastic Wrap is applied over this layer to allow for easy removal of the form after the paper mache skull has dried.
A small piece of pvc pipe is taped into place at the neck area to make the head easier to hold while applying further layers. It is later removed. The first layers are pressed into the gauze firmly and more glue mixture is added to make sure that it soaks onto the gauze layer completely. The head is built up in three or four layers. Each layer is applied in a different direction for final strength and stability.
This hard skull support allows the use of a thin layer of polymer clay skin, making for minimal weight and maximum use of the clay. Not much is needed for structural foundation and more is saved for cosmetic purposes.The skull is placed upright in a well ventilated area and allowed to dry for 24 hours.
Now this is the part where it gets really graphic…send the children to bed, folks. Draw the blinds, get comfortable and settle in. I mean it; applying paper mache is one thing but then after it dried they took an X-acto knife to my skull. Cut off my neck, and then split the old head in two all the way around right down the middle of my face…This is some serious stuff, in fact I better let Ms. Dixie continue her report. Aunt Acid is feeling a trifle woozy still.
The head is placed in the sun and allowed to dry. During examination it is decided to continue this drying out period for 48 hours. (note: a client’s head must be completely dried out before further treatment can be considered as “Mildew is a mil-DON’T”)
The neck area is then cut and removed. An incision is made at the base of the neck in back and a cut is made down through the paper and gauze, but not cutting through masking tape or down to the butternut squash. This cut is taken from the back of the head all the way around the front, down the nose and chin. This releases the papier mache skull and it is gently removed from the original form. Then a segment is cut from the back of the skull to allow puppeteer access.
The right and left skull sections are fitted back together and taped closed. Feature placement lines are marked with red pen and the mouth area is cut to release the lower mandible (jaw). More dilute glue is now used to coat this and seal the inside of the head against moisture.
While this is again drying a second head is started using the same methods and the same butternut squash as is showing no visible signs of decomposition. More padding of masking paper is added to build up a larger forehead, nose, cheekbones and jaw.
These attributes will form a male head that is similar to Aunt Acid, but much more manly.
(note: See treatment records for Blinkystäg Münchengröb AKA “Blinky the Clown”)
This use of the persistent vegetative based head form a second time is an example of artistic thrift, and in no way represents research into human cloning.
The head is tested for ease in use. It is already apparent that the mouth may need adjustments. The fit works now, but the addition of skin will necessitate changes in the upper jaw/jowl line area.
Additional strips of papier mache and glue mixture are used to cover all raw edges of the mouth and neck openings, and to unify the inside and outside of the head incision over the masking tape. This is allowed to dry again overnight. Then the outside of the top and bottom sections of the skull are coated with Kato Clear Polyclay Medium. This step forms the subdermal layer that will allow easy adhesion of the skin itself. The skull sections are cured in a oven at 300 degrees F according to directions for 30 minutes. The feel is rubbery, but will add even more strength and bond all layers together firmly. Kato Polyclay is used because our in-clinic tests results indicate that it is the polymer clay brand with the greatest strength and flexibility. One pound of flesh was sufficient for one head.
A preliminary layer of well conditioned “flesh” colored Kato Polyclay is rolled out at a #3 pasta machine setting and applied in strips to the skull. This color is used “straight” with no added white or other clays. All seams are blended using an acrylic roller. The clay overlaps all raw edges and is smoothed to the inside of the skull.
Upper teeth are formed to the inside of the upper mouth using white Kato Polyclay, removed and baked. These were later determined to not be neccessary for Aunt A) White clay is also used to form two oval eyeballs. The iris and pupil are millefiore cane slices. The cane is built using a skinner blend of blue-to-green wrapped around a small black clay snake. This cane plug is then wrapped in a #5 layer of black. Thin slices are applied to the whites of the eyeballs and baked.
Nostrils lumps are added on either side of the nose and a #5 layer of clay is used to unify the surface. Wrinkles are added at the forehead, outside eye area, and from nose to mouth at the naso-labial fold. Lips are added, and marked with faint scoring lines. The baked eyes are then placed on the skull in the occipital regions. Upper and lower eyelids are cut from a #3 layer of flesh colored clay. These are smoothed into place over the baked eyeballs using a silicone rubber tipped tool. The head is then placed in an oven and cured for one hour.
When placement of lower jaw is attempted, it is noted that the mouth no longer fits together with the additional mass of the clay. A paring knife is used to remove the “dewflap” areas of the upper jaw/jowl area. Another layer of flesh colored Kato clay is added to the already baked clay to cover all new raw edges. Although visibly different when raw and cured, the clay when re-baked achieves a unified look and no joins are visible. This is not the case when using all other clays, which can darken with progressive bakings. Kato flesh color baked four times is the same as it is baked once.
Ears are formed onto the baked head, and then baked separately. They are glued into position using cyanoacrylate glue.
A mixture of acrylic paints and Rust-Oleum Varathane (a water based polyurethane that is compatible long term with polymer clays) is used to apply details to the head. The Varathane allows the pigment to be dilute into a stain so that progressive layers can by built up for a natural effect. Use water to dilute the viscosity of the mixture if needed, and not to dilute the pigment–that is what the Varathane does. In addition, the Varathane contains an interpenetrating network (IPN) that helps adhere the paint to the polymer more effectively.
Shadows are applied to the eye, nostril and ear areas using a mix of Varathane and a small amount of black acrylic paint. Most is removed, then more is added as needed. A small amount of purple is added and the upper eyelid area is again stained, and allowed to dry.
A small amount of gold is mixed with a tiny amount of black, diluted slightly with Varathane, and used to draw lines in the iris of each eye. It is also used to line the upper and lower eyelid and to create the illusion of lashes on the lower lid. Varathane Gloss is painted into each eyeball to make them look glossy and wet. A second coat is added after the first dries.
Varathane and red acrylic paint are mixed and used to lightly stain the outer edges of the ears, the ball of the nose, the cheeks and the lip area including into the inside of the lip. Progressive layers of the red mixture are used to build up the cheek blush and lips. A rubber cosmetic sponge is used to blot and build up color areas. The color is most deep on the ball of the lower lip at center and the central parts of the upper lip on either side of the naral. Commercially made false eyelashes are glued in place using the adhesive that comes with it, and eyebrows are lightly sketched in place with a black acrylic paint and Varathane mix. Her “natural” look can be augmented with the application of makeup as needed for costuming.