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A peek into Carlo's Caverna (Cave), to see what's happening now ...

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I will be using this page as a "Blog", where I can post occasional reports on what I'm doing.
I will try to post fairly regularly, or whenever I've accomplished something that I can share.
Please check-in here to find out what I'm actually doing. If there's no new posts for a while,
then I'm probably traveling, doing something else, or having another existential crisis.


May 20, 2018 - "Lo Zampognaro", Part 6  I have been very delinquent, neglecting my
writing here, but I have a good reason, I think. Back in February, I was drawn to the idea of making
stop-motion animation videos. This is something I've thought about for years, and I realized that I
now had a great figure to try it with.

So... I went back to my "Zampognaro" figure, and started modifying him for animation.
I had been working on
this figure for 3 months, and he was almost done. First, I realized that his legs
were too short, so I cut and lengthened them. I then articulated his left ankle, so He can tap to the
beat of his music. I also articulated his neck, and his left shoulder and arm. I used parts from
Natasha at www.morezmore.com. Hand masters and armatures were made from wire and clay, and
then they were cast in soft silicon rubber. Now I can pose the hand and fingers as needed. The
hands connect to the arms through small magnets.

I'll try to post an "step-by-step" here soon, about the hand-making process, with pictures.

At this point, I made some very crude and preliminary stop-motion film clips, yo test the camera (inexpensive
webcam), software (iStop-Motion), and lighting (LED strips). You can see one  of the "better" ones HERE.

After making a "goat skin" bag from clay and thin leather, I made several attempts to turn the
zampogna pipes from wood. After several disasters, I asked for help from my friend Lello
Palumbo, in Italy. He made the beautiful beech wood pipes shown below. I can't thank him enough.


So, now that he could "move" his head, right arm, left foot, and both hands and fingers, I went back and
rebuilt all the clay parts, and fashioned a soft upper-right arm from foam fabric, so it could move at the
shoulder and elbow. On his head, I added some gray hair and a mustache (made from Tibetan lamb's wool).
His calves were covered with scraps of fabric, held in place by string, as was done by Italian Shepherds.
Finally, everything was almost finished.... almost. I still need to do the final painting, and make him a cloth
shirt, which will be able to move with his arms. Here is his present look.

e1   e2

e3   e4

February 18, 2018 -
"Lo Zampognaro", Part 5 
I have just found several examples of
"Lo Zampogna" being played. It is used most extensively for traditional Christmas songs, and there are
plenty of examples on YouTube. Here are a few... 
"Godere! "  (enjoy)


February 17, 2018 -
"Lo Zampognaro", Part 4 
I have finished the sculpting on this
figure. I also fabricated his "Zampogna" (bagpipes) by turning the pipes from hardwood and forming
"goatskin" bag from clay. Some extra drone pipes hang from his belt. I am now working on a traditional
Italian shepherd's hat, and will begin adding hair and coloring on this guy soon.
Meanwhile, We're off on a "research" trip to Italy!

z6s  z5  

January 25, 2018 - "Lo Zampognaro", Part 3  I have begun work on the head. I am
trying for a caricature, with inspiration from trolls, gnomes, and Dizzy Gillespie (puffy cheeks). I covered the
armature (below) with Poly Clay, and freelanced the face and details. The eyes are glass, from
www.morezmore.wordpress.com He's still a little "crumby", and needs a little more work, but he's coming
along. Next I'll be working on the body, and "La Zampogna", the bagpipes.

      h4      h5   h6

January 15, 2018 - "Lo Zampognaro", Part 2   Today I completed "bulking-up" the
armature, using aluminum foil covered with epoxy-putty. This gives a better idea for the shape and
size of the figure, and reduces the amount of polymer clay that will be required. It also helps me to pose
the figure before I get too much detail on him, risking damage. The head is removable, so I can work on
it separately, and I will soon make removable hand armatures too.

ac1   ac3

January 6, 2018 - "Lo Zampognaro", Part 1
   Today is the "Feast of the Epiphany" in
Catholic Italy, and
La Befana (a good witch) visits homes and brings gifts. And, I have started a new,
large fantasy figure sculpture. I call him "Lo Zampognaro"; a musician who plays La Zampogna,
a type of bagpipe made from goatskin, and traditionally played in parts of Southern Italy.

In this case, he will be a "sort of" Troll/Gnome caricature, and was inspired by the creations in the
stop-motion movie "Boxtrolls", and the work of Montreal artist Jean-Baptiste Monge. So far, I have
constructed an armature from 8-32 threaded rods, copper wire, nuts, and bits of brass sheet. It stands
about 12 inches tall. The arms are copper wire, for ease of posing later, and the brass tab on his hip is to
attach him to a stand while I work on him..Next, I plan to bulk-up this framework with tinfoil,
epoxy putty,
wire. Here's what I have, so far...

a1   a2

December 12, 2017 -
Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a micro-layout, to run my     
Lister (see Oct. 9 entry) and a few Modelearth Budget Cars. This layout is 18" deep and 60" long,
and resides on a shelf in my workshop. Pink foam base, wood ties, and code 190 rail. There is a
"Traverser" at one end, to move an entire train, plus a small turntable to turn locos. I am cutting-up and
reusing parts of previous dioramas for the buildings.
More photos as progress is made.




October 13, 2017 -
Today is "Friday the 13th"! After completing the "Lister" (below), I've started a small
interim project. Many years ago, I sculpted a snoozing seated figure in 1/20 scale.  It has always been a
favorite of mine, so I decided to do a similar
sculpt in 1/12 scale. Again, I started with a "Body-Kun" 6"
action figure
as my armature, replacing the head and hands with my own parts.  Below are pictures of the
original (and now well-used) 1/20 figure, and the trimmed and posed armature for the new 1/12 figure.

s1   s1


October 9, 2017 - Today, I finished my re-building of the Lister Locomotive. See 9/27 post for earlier
work. This model, which was previously un-powered, has now been fitted with a gear-head motor, chain drive,
and "Deltang" Radio Control. After I got the power and Radio Control working well, I reassembled all the
components and did some final painting and weathering. I had already finished the driver (see 9/4 post),
and fitted him into the seat. The finished locomotive is shown here, ready for some light industrial or
agricultural work on an indoor micro-layout, but that's still in the planning stage.


l2  l3

l4  l5

October 2, 2017 - Yet another diversion, or side project... After the Leonard Cohen Portrait Sculpt,
see April, 2017, I got the itch to try another Celebrity Sculpt. This time, I chose a featured actor from
the famous "Bloom County" comic strip, created by Berkley Breathed. I have been following this strip for
years, and it is one of my favorites. The best part, for me, is Opus, the penguin. So, with a few hours free,
I sculpted a portrait of Opus. This piece is only 5" tall, made from polymer clay, and painted with acrylics.

o1 o2 o3

September 27, 2017 -
Well, the motor and electrics arrived, and were soon put. to good use. I had
to assemble the Deltang R/C throttle, but the instructions from The On30 Guy were very clear, and complete
 with pictures of each operation. Then, after I "Calibrated and Bound" transmitter and receiver, I was able to
mount the battery and receiver under the floor, and connect them to the motor, which is mounted below
the floor, at the front. An On-Off-Charge switch was enclosed in a sandbox, and the charger plug was
mounted in the floor, behind the driver's seat (covered by a small box). After a little fettling*, everything
worked fine, and the Lister trundled off slowly across my workbench. I am pleased that all the electronics
and drive parts would fit below "floor level". Once the "bonnet" is fitted, and painting completed, there
will be almost no visible sign that this Lister is electrically powered by Radio Control. Below are photos.

*  The term "fettling" is an olde English term, and  referred to "knocking off the rough edges, or flash"     
from an iron casting, and smoothing it out to a proper finished shape. Later, it came to describe the
final touches and adjustments done to finish any project.

l RC
Top View: Lister chassis, in progress. At leftt is the motor, in a styrene case. You can see part
of the chain drive. The small brown box under the seat houses a charger plug for the LiPo battery.

The on-off-charge switch is hidden in the sandbox at upper right, activated by sliding the cover.

Bottom View:
Lister chassis, in progress. Again, the motor is on the left, in a styrene case. The
chain drive is much more visible here. At center, mounted under the transmission, is the Deltang
Receiver. I didn't enclose it because this locomotive will not be used outside.At right, under
the driver platform, is the 7.4V. LiPo battery. The wires and motor case will be painted black.

September 4, 2017 -
I had to order the gear-head motor, LiPo batteries, charger, and Deltang R/C
from the "On30 Guy" before I could continue with the Lister re-build to 1n15. By the way, for those of
us in North America The On30 Guy has lots of good stuff and information on battery power and RC, and is a
Deltang Dealer. I am just a satisfied customer. Meanwhile, I did finish cleaning the painted parts, and sprayed
them with a rusty-brown primer. Then, while I was waiting for the (back-ordered) parts to arrive, I decided
to build a driver figure. This led to a significant diversion...

For this figure, I decided to use a "Body-Kun
6" action figure" I found on eBay as an armature. These
figures are "un-clothed" and fully jointed, so they can be posed. The bad news is that they are heavily-
muscled, and have the small head, feet, and hands typical of SuperHero proportions. The good news
is that the plastic is relatively soft, and can be carved, and the head and hands are removable/replaceable.
They also can withstand the ~250 deg.F needed to harden polymer clay.

Once I posed the figure to sit on the Lister, I "froze" the position with superglue at all the joints. Below is
the original figure, and my posed version, with a new head