What to Do With Your Old Cardboard

When I’m working on an illustration that involves a particular object I’m not familiar with and find hard to draw (or I’m having trouble visualizing the hand position on the object), I’ll often mock up a prop. This might involve using something as a stand-in that has a similar shape ie: a swim kick board for the ten commandments, or it can get more complicated. Every once in a while I get a little side tracked and I find myself challenged by making the prop and It takes me on a little…uh…detour.

Here is one of my finishes for my story based on Ernst Hemingway’s suicide part of which appears in Mammal Magazine #2. Hemingway pg.6

While researching Hemingway’s suicide, I found that he killed himself with a shot gun (a Boss & Co ordered through Abercrombie and Fitch). I felt that the gesture he would have used to shoot himself was something I would have to see to draw accurately. At first I thought I’d just take a broom stick to get approximate the shotgun. That was not to be, 2 hours later I had my glue gun out and was scouring the studio for cardboard (a very underrated medium for sculpture). Here is my lovely, supportive wife Deb demo-ing the safe handling of a cardboard firearm.

cardboard-prop gun1cardboard-gun2I’m sure I spent way more time than I had to getting the gun to break at the breach and making a little shell to fit in one of the barrels. I’m actually quite proud of it and sat in my studio staring down the sight for more time than I’d care to relate. For those of you wondering, though tempted, I did not fold origami birds and yell out “Pull!” as Deb threw them into the air. I do plan on designing more objects out of cardboard. There are some wonderful trophy heads sold on line created out of cardboard (cardboardsafari.com), so I am far from alone. I do think that I created a better illustration having made the gun. Which after all, was where I started.

cardboard-Prop gun4

Ready for any big cardboard game.

Me and my card board gunBelow is one of the reference shots I took of me as Papa Hemingway. A particularly gruesome way to commit suicide. Not only using a shotgun but also that position. It seems not exactly fool proof, but then Hemingway spent his life around guns and a lot of time musing about death and dying. His act in itself was done out of despair over his inability to create and despondency over his bad health.

On a much lighter note I’ll post more photos of props I’ve constructed. Most of them aren’t this macabre. I can only image that there are a number of other artists and illustrators with trunk fulls of pasted together objects used as props in projects, or a least the reference photos of them.


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