Very few people are able to escape the fact that Game of Thrones exists. Love it, hate it or perhaps rather not bothered with it to be honest really, Game of Thrones is a hugely successful book series which spawned the even more hugely successful TV series. The last episode of season 5 had a whooping 8.4 million live viewers when it was aired. 8.4 MILLION, that’s quiet a fair number. People will talk to you about it, and if you haven’t watched it, they may look at you with a sense of bewilderment and slight offence (Yes I am guilty of this).
Usually when a video game or movie comes along there is at least one, but more that likely a bazillion things I spot where I say “I want it….I want to make it, I HAVE TO MAKE IT!!” Thankfully this dies down after a while, if it kept up I probably wouldn’t have time to sleep. Rarely has a TV show ever done this for me though, with the exception of perhaps Star Trek, I think mostly because TV props aren’t always as elaborate as the movie props, or they tend to be items that already exist. But the Sons of the Harpy mask in Game of Thrones did it for me. Without giving much away by ways of spoilers, the Sons of the Harpy are a group of masked baddies in Meereen that want to get rid of Daenerys.
Handily enough, Yorick, my polystyrene head wasn’t busy at the time so I started sculpting right away with modeling wax which i had on hand but had never used before, I like tossing a bit of learning into new works, it keeps it challenging! I also haven’t sculpted a face since college, it was nice to do it again. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to over come was the lack of clear reference images. The episode introducing the harpies had only just aired and it was difficult to find the angles and details I needed. I had enough to start anyway and I found a video of the original masks being made which helped a lot. I’m sure the majority of it’s “views” on YouTube are from me constantly referencing it. Thankfully over time, and a few episodes later, more and more high quality images started to emerge. Now if you google image search you find heaps of high quality images!
I covered Yorick in tinfoil to help protect him and stop the wax from ripping out little beads of polystyrene. Sadly Yorick may need to be replaced after this as extensive use of a soldering torch to even out the wax caused his eyes and right ear to melt a bit…
My favourite thing to sculpt was the horns! I loved the organic curves with the crisp lines. Thankfully I took a break from sculpting them for a bit and noticed an error in their shape and with fresh eyes I was able to fix it. I re-sculpted a fair few things, after looking at various angles and going away and coming back, it’s easier to see what wasn’t so clear before. The symbol on the forehead was completely carved out and done again. It was good practice for sculpting with my eyes and not my mind or memory, which is a tricky habit to get out of but definitely necessary.
On the tricky side of things I was surprised at how much time I spent on the nostrils…and staring at other peoples nostrils for reference. The middle image above there is my test for the texture stamp I made, the horns are less detailed there because I was re-sculpting them. Mike on Facebook actually asked for details about the texture, so I’ll go into that here. One of the earlier images allowed me to spot the texture on the masks, you can see it very clearly in the first image on this post, but it appears to be designed to look like overlapped brass / gold strips were used to form the mask. The way these are layered causes a slight triangular looking pattern from afar. I replicated this pattern as best I could using styrene strips and removed some of the harshness of the styrene edges with sandpaper and drizzling a bit of resin into some of the gaps. The close up of the hero prop pictured above is very detailed where as other stunt ones used in crowds seem to have part of their textures missing, they aren’t as clean etc, this was the look I decided to go for. Even in the penultimate episode of the series you can see most of the stunt ones have lost a lot of gold leaf. I’m not sure if that was intended to happen over time, or human sweat doing its work when the props were being handled… This is one of the reasons (aside from the cost of gold leaf!) I’ll spray my masks when reproducing them. Mike also tossed out the suggestion of brass cold casting – So thank you Mike, it’s on my to-do list!
Above you can see images of Yorick chilling in the fridge, my studio is tiny and has my PC in it so it can heat up fairly quickly, plus Ireland has moved into warmer summer weather so I needed to keep the wax firmer. A hint online suggested that after a chilling (mind you they recommend the freezer) you can sand down the wax with a fine sanding sponge to take out any kinks. Sanding combined with the soldering torch allowed for smoothing of areas and removing of pesky finger prints. I also pre-punched all the holes for stitching to the fabric cowl before going at it with some of Smooth On’s Rebound 25 – I am very much in love with this silicone you may have noticed.
That’s it for Phase 1! I will post an update to phase two when I have this molded…