Making the Rock Base for the Blue Footed Boobies

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The Blue-Footed Booby sculpture is finally done!

This project was supposed to be a simple tutorial showing how to make a bird sculpture stand up on two feet.

Then it kind of got away from me, and I kept adding to it. First, the Lady Booby needed a mate showing off his nice blue foot. Then I decided that they needed a base made with foam, something I’ve never done before, and it should look like a rock from the Galapagos Islands.

Lots of experiments, lots of playing around – but I think they came out OK. :)

However, you’ll want to watch the video to see the mistakes I made while I was learning how to use the hot wire tools, and when I glued the blue foam boards together. I learned a lot on this project!

Links mentioned in the video:

Do you have tips and tricks for sculpting foam?

If you do, please let us know in the comments below. I’m obviously not an expert, so any advice you have would be much appreciated. :)

I think the finished Boobies look right at home on the shelf below one of my daughter Jessie Rasche’s abstract paintings. The two very different styles work really well together, don’t you think?

Blue footed boobies sculpture

14 thoughts on “Making the Rock Base for the Blue Footed Boobies”

  1. Love!
    What drama, waiting for the next video on this piece! Lol
    And hey…those adventurous “I’m not sure what I’m doing here (or next)” kind of issues help keep the mind sharp. Creative problem solving beats sitting around playing soduku any day, in my opinion!

  2. Your foam rock looks fabulous! Tell me, how strong does the outside feel with only using the monster mud? Would it get damaged if banged or knocked over? When I have used foam, I have always covered the whole foam with the air dry clay which you already know dries super hard. You could easily achieve the textures you wanted as well and avoid the need to fill it with a weight because it dries heavy enough. That being said, your foam cutting tool looked fun to sculpt with. It might be fun to try a whole sculpture with the armature being foam.
    I do love the texture you did achieve and the whole sculpture really is so incredible! Another triumph!

    • Thanks, Eileen. The tool was fun to play with, and I’ve wanted an excuse to buy one for ages. I’ll do it outside next time, though. (It would be fun to take this course from the Stan Winston School, but I probably won’t. :) )

      The Monster Mud 2.0 dries really hard, but it’s just painted on so it’s a very thin layer and it doesn’t have any reinforcing fibers in it. I’m sure it would crack if it was dropped on concrete or if it was hit with something, because the foam underneath is easily damaged. The MM 2.0 recipe’s inventor doesn’t claim that it’s waterproof, but I think the main benefit of using just the foam with the hard coat of Monster Mud, (without the air dry clay underneath), is that it could go outside. The VanOaksProps guy recommends Thomson’s WaterSeal as a final coat. Maybe that’s because the exterior latex paint is waterproof, but the cement in the thinset mortar isn’t.

      The problem I have with creating something more complicated than a rock with just a foam armature is that my brain doesn’t ‘see’ the way a wood or stone carver does. My dad tells a story about a master carver he met, who picked up a stick and told my dad that he thought there was a moose in it. He whittled for awhile, and the moose appeared. I can’t imagine doing that. My brain thinks like a clay sculptor, with shapes added, moved around, squished and played with until the shape looks right. I think I’d chop off the antlers, or end up with a lop-sided penguin. I know there are ways to avoid that problem, but it may require a more organized person who likes to plan things out a little better than I do. Or maybe it would just be a matter of squirting on some expanding foam from a can if you cut off too much. I wonder if the hot wire tool will cut through cured expanding foam?

      The next time I go to town, I’m going to buy a big heavy bag of Portland cement and play with Warren’s waterproof paper mache clay recipe. I mixed up a tiny batch using my Mapei grout instead of cement, and it appeared to work well – but that stuff isn’t cheap. Warren told me last year that his pots are still outside, since 2013, and they’re still doing fine. I put off trying it just because the bags of cement are so heavy, but I think I can get a 46 lb bag out of the car and into the house. If we can get the paper mache clay to be waterproof just by adding some cheap cement to it, that would let us use foil for the armature. It might still be useful to paint the sculpture with colored Monster Mud, too. Things to think about. :)

      • Oh I agree, we are additive sculptors, not subtractive. I belong to a sculpture group with varied talents.(Of course we have not met since the pandemic started-boo) There is one guy there who does it all, various stone, ceramic, wood, you name it. He says that he “sees” what the stone will be. I have a block of soap stone that has been sitting in my studio for several years. I cannot ‘see” a thing, one of these days I will just go for it!
        I’ve never done any sculpting with portland cement but I did make these flower pots out of old towels dipped in a sand/ portland cement mixture about 3 years ago. The have held up fine and I reuse them every year. I wonder if paper mache clay mixed with cement would act like hypertuffa? You would have to use the entire batch of the mix at one sitting due to the cement setting so fast though. That’s one of the beauties of using your clay recipes, the batches last for a while in the fridge. But if it is truly waterproof, that would be a game changer!
        You are always up for a new challenge! It is fun to experiment and you are rubbing off on me! One last thing… I was talking to this painter who does these fabulous murals in a local town. Most of the walls he does the murals on have a cement base that he paints on. I was grilling him on the type of paints he uses and he does not use outdoor exterior paints. He uses artist quality acrylics that have a high lightfast rating. He showed me the difference on one of his murals and it was dramatic(to an artist eye). He uses a product from Novacolor. I checked them out and they have some really luscious colors. And they are cheaper than what you would get in the art or craft stores. You can only get them online, not sold in stores . I thought I would pass that bit of info on to you and to Jessie.
        Always good chatting!

  3. Hi Jonni, I have never worked with foam, but I sure learned a lot from watching you do it. I think the foam rock turned out great for the two blue footed boobies! Congratulations.

  4. Your project turned out really well! You’re right; she would have been lonely by herself.

    In theater-world, Styrofoam is usually covered with cheesecloth and
    flex-glue, which makes the pieces very rugged. But for something up close, that technique is probably more texture than you would want. I think your rock paint-job and texturing made them very authentic.

    I think solutions that you come up with on the fly can often be more creative than some you plan out. Looks like a win-win here.

  5. Your Blue Footed Boobies are wonderful. The rock base looks perfect with them. I think this is one piece you’ll want to keep. How can you look at them and not smile. Just wonderful Jonni!!!

    • Thanks, Pat. I wasn’t sure I would find room for them – the top of the book shelf is getting a little crowded. But now they fit into the corner just perfectly, so they get to stay here. :)

  6. Hi Jonni
    Love the Blue footed Boobie. You did a great job on the rocks. You can use a fork or a hair rake to make cut lines down the styrofoam for grooves
    Love it.

    • That’s a great idea! There are stripes on a basalt boulder in the alley down the street from me, and that would have been a perfect way to add them. I’ll keep that in mind. :)


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