Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cthulhu Barbie

Ideas are curious creatures, flitting about near invisible taunting just out of reach anyone that could really use it.

And are just as likely to sink their fangs deep into someone who wasn't paying any attention and now has to deal with idea guts splattered all over the back of their leg and palm.

My unexpected idea bite came in the form of none other than a Cthulhu Barbie (hence the title of the post).

Now what follows is the long, meandering explanation for how I went about creating this monster and maybe I'll figure out why as I go. Crazier shit's happened.

It began, as it oddly rarely does, with a simple photoshop project (okay technically it began when my husband and I were looking at the weird collector Barbie doll options at Toys R Us, but that doesn't come with any pictures).
A random idea, I slapped together and tossed out into the wilderness of the internet to entertain a handful of people.

Or so I thought. Dun-dun-DUNN!!!!

Soon my little image was being tweeted and retweeted; peated and repeated. I wake up to find my mention column filled with people asking me if it's real, or assuming it is. I haven't had to anger so many nerds since that Nail Polish fiasco.

But then I got to thinking, this isn't like those armored Barbies, to pull this off I wouldn't need any kind of sewing skills (which is good, as mine are so nonexistent they're asymtoping backwards.)

The first step on this wild idea was to achieve one Barbie. I wanted one that was classic blonde hair/ blue eyes, long dress. This was actually kind of tricky.

There were a lot where she was a princess/ballerina/mermaid/dermatologist, but a simple canvas does not a fun toy make apparently.

Fear not, I lucked out in the clearance section with this supposed example of all that is wrong with womanhood, or something.
Doll Achieved, now the first step is tentacles.

Big surprise, but we already had wire in the house. I simply cut and twisted that into my preferred tentacle shape, then stuffed with batting (which was also laying around the house), and covered that first in cling wrap then scotch tape.
Now, out comes the latex. You might remember that stuff from oh every other tutorial I've ever given. It's pretty much the same here, dip paper towels in it, cover the tentacles in that. Let dry. Repeat.

The suction cups were a bit of brilliance on my part. Instead of making and driving myself insane with tiny dots I tried to adhere to all six tentacles, using a toothpick I simply placed a small drop on each tentacle and well you'll see later with the addition of paint how cool it turned out.

I used hot glue to attach the tentacles to Barbies naturally corseted midsection.
After that, I gritted my teeth, secured my wedding ring and dove elbow deep into the latex covering Miss Cthulhu in layer after layer of the stuff.

But before I can show a picture of that, I have to talk about her face tentacles. Because while Barbie with tentacles is weird, it's nowhere near disturbing enough (or accurate).

Enter a fresh set of wires, smaller (and from the jewelry section), I secured them with a piece of scotch tape and dipped them like a candle into the latex. Then I worked hard at typing with one hand while the other waited patiently for it all to dry.
Did I say patiently? I meant, bored out of my skull.

Now for the question of how to put the dry face tentacles above Barbie's top lip. Well there was only one truly good answer.

Pulling out my exacto knife, I embraced my plastic surgeon side, and made an incision just below her nose. After dropping the tiny tentacles a few times, I finally got them inserted and closed the wound with latex.
For the final layer of latex on the body, I wanted to make veiny, craggy, creepy skin. This is an old god who's been hanging out under the ocean sleeping. He's not gonna have the skin of a three year old.

You'll also see the first attempt at a test paint job on Barbie's face. Do try to ignore it as the important bits are on her body. Thank you.
Next comes my favorite part, painting. You can solve all problems with duct tape, hot glue, and paint. Except for a problem like Maria.

The first layer was black, always go dark first and work up to light. I wetted the blade, I mean brush, and turned my acrylics water color.
Once that dried (and it takes ever so long to wait), I added the next color a hunter deep green:
For the last I went with a light grass green that was also shiny (and for some reason from Martha Stewart, so I assume some pixie blood was mixed in for good measure).
This helped to finally mesh the different texture of the face with the rest of the body.

For the tentacles I painted the cuppy area with a light tan and then slowly, methodically outlined each suction cup with black. Yes it was tedious, but the other option was to watch Cupcake wars and I preferred tentacle painting 1000 to 1 each time.

Finally, I turned her eyes a nice homicidal red. And stuck the pink plastic necklace and crown she came with because I thought it was funny.
Nice, but it isn't Cthulhu without the wings.

Re-enter the wire. I had a crazy idea to try soldering the thing together. This led to a lot of cursing, the burning of a few fingers, and possibly a duck going through a window somewhere.

Eventually I abandoned that and used epoxy instead (what, you thought we only had one kind of adhesive in this house?). It always takes longer than 5 minutes but holds like a treat.

I coated the "bones" with latex to beef them up, then I steeled myself.

I wanted thin leathery wings. Thin enough you could easily see light through and the only way to accomplish that was kleenex.

I've latexed with Kleened before and on wings with my fairies. There are some that say that drove me mad, but they're the sane ones.

Eh, I'll skip the drama and say it worked fine. Lost a few tries but eventually I got two done and painted them.
I attached those with more hot glue, then covered that in latex (this Barbie is awesome at all 360 degrees).

And now here she is, Cthulhu Barbie is all her soul sucking form.
Cthulhu Glamor Shot
Check out the tentacle detail
I did my best to leave as much of the small articulation Barbie comes with. The arms still raise, the head mostly turns and still tilts and the legs and knees move as much as before.

You can use that to have her carry sticks to beat the nonbelievers.

I would offer up some commentary on how this isn't born from the old hat idea of "ooh isn't it funny making Barbie ugly" but more a plea to all those costume makers who think women's only worth is looking hot at all times.

A woman can never be scary, or terrifying, or even truly ugly even if that is the homage she wishes to make. She must at all times be in a state of giving men boners.

So...Cthulhu Barbie. If she disturbs you, I've done my job. Also, I love any excuse to play with latex.
Now to decide which evil monster I turn the blonde American princess into next.

I would be remiss not to thank all those out there in twitter land who encouraged this madness, all those Cthulhu fans who tweeted and shared the picture and hung on through each glimpse of the process.

And for the Nerd God Neil Gaiman who retweeted the photoshopped image and sent it off down the rabbit hole of twitter.

While I do love Cthulhu Barbie, I do not have the room for her so I'll be looking to sell her off to a good home.

She's surprisingly durable. Maybe not toddler durable, but then most lead safes aren't. But I have had her plummet a few times and come up with nary a scratch or bent tentacle.

Cthulhu Barbie, tell your friends.


4ndyman said...

Though the reference is a little past its prime, I'd love to see a Borg Barbie.

M.I.K.E. said...

Do you remember the "masters of horror" episode called "Jenifer"? Just saying is all.

Miss Ann said...

I want one.

Karen Merryman said...

I love her and all of your art. I'm a nerd too, some of us just can't stop over analyzing, but if you're over analyzing you aren't having fun!