In this practical lesson the class was firstly shown how to make a mask for the hair using ‘fullers earth’ (a powder usually used in the beauty industry to create face masks with a mix of rose water). Fullers earth is the common name for calcium montmorillonite. It is a naturally occurring sedimentary clay composed mainly of alumina, silica, iron oxides, lime, magnesia and water (in variable proportions). It is highly absorbent and rich in minerals and a fine, greyish off-white coloured powder. It is excellent for various uses and in ancient time process ‘fullers’ (cloth makers) used fullers earth to absorb and remove oil and dirt from wool so that it could be made into cloth.
The tutor mixed some fullers earth with water. Using a dolls head, she easily brushed it onto the hair (after it had been slicked back and put up with a hair band.) It then started to set (the tutor used a hair dryer to speed it up) and formed a crumbly texture which removed the realism of hair. This skill can be used within our fantasy creature design work as once the clay is set, paint can be applied over it which would make our body painting pieces a lot more effective. The image below shows the end result.
Later in the day each student practiced with their own paints and materials in order to get used to working with different products. This enabled us to determine which ones work best for us with regards to application. I practiced different techniques including painting using large brushes, dabbing on paint using torn up bath sponges and attempting to work freehand using smaller brushes. In addition, I also enjoyed the fun of adding glitter and neon paints on top of some areas to visualise the results. There was no real plan involved as I am still contemplating my design and model; I was more interested in seeing how my products would work and if I would need to purchase other commodities.
From this experimental session, I learned body painting is more difficult than I imagined as paint is very messy and getting the correct application takes practice in order to avoid streaks or under/over colouring. Some of my work was disappointing such as the cubism effect using block colours (drawn freehand) because it looked quite untidy and out of proportion. Precision is the main area that I need to work on which is easily achievable by using small art brushes rather than cheaper non-sturdy ones. Art brushes would make a major difference. Once I actually have my design completed I can work hard on perfecting it as opposed to practicing just anything. As all paints used were water-based, it was unsurprisingly easy to remove stains by just rubbing them off with water under the tap; however I did notice that certain colours began to stain on the skin quicker (such as blue) compared to others.
Overall this was an enjoyable practical lesson which proved very beneficial for my creature design task.