October 30, 2014 — Back in 2007, on a whim, with Halloween fast approaching, I decided to try painting a version of the painting of Vigo the Carpathian that appears in Ghostbusters II. After three days of squinting at the low-res VHS screen caps available on the net at the time, the painting was something like complete. At 36×60 inches, it’s quite a large painting. I never got around to framing it. A suitable frame of that size is prohibitively expensive, and anyway, what is “suitable” for a painting like that?
This year, I decided to just make my own frame for it.
I wanted to make something ornate, macabre, and unusual. I vaguely imagined a fancy gilt carved wooden frame with all sorts of hellish imagery. My idea was to fake this sort of thing by gluing plastic halloween toys and 3D printed objects onto the frame, covering them with epoxy, and maybe a bit of papier mache, and then painting the whole thing with gold spray paint.
This is how it came out:
The structural construction is rather simple, and probably not what real framemakers do. Four 1×5 poplar boards cut at 45 degress with a compound miter saw form the main structure of the frame. Glued to these are four sections of some moulding, also cut at 45 degrees with the compound miter saw. These are connected together with four “L” shaped pieces of thin plywood, glued and screwed onto the back of the corners.
Once the frame was structurally complete, the decorations began. I found some little plastic skeletons at HEB (HEB is a grocery store around where I live). I bought all they had, which was 3 packs of 4 each. I think of them as smurf skeletons, as they’re about that size. These I hot-glued to the vertical sections of the frame. Then, I sort of coated them in little strips of toilet paper soaked in a mixture of water and Elmer’s glue, in an effort to make the skeletons appear to be carved from the frame and part of it, rather than just glued onto it. It’s debatable how successful this was, but I think it looks better than if I hadn’t done that step.
Between the skeletons, I glued little 3D printed pentagrams which I had designed in openscad. At the bottom corners, I glued on a section of a 3D printed models of the “terror dog” from Ghostbusters.
At the top of the frame, I wanted, instead of the cherubs you sometimes see on these ornate gilt frames, some kind of evil, sexy “cherubs”. Something like what’s on the cover of the “Days of Purgatory” album by Iced Earth. So I started looking around on the internet for freely available 3D printable nude models, which it turns out there are surprisingly few, freely available or otherwise, given that this is the internet we’re talking about here. I settled on one I found on Thingiverse and printed 3 of them scaled to about 110mm in height.
Of course I needed some big batwings for these ladies, and for that I turned to metaprogramming openscad, and created a batwing skeleton model generator which allows left, right, or pairs of batwings which may be at varying degrees of openness, from fully unfurled, or open to mostly furled or closed to be created. I printed 3 pairs of wing skeletons for the 3 plastic ladies. To make the webbing between the bones of the wings, I carefully cut and bent some stiff watercolor paper out, and glued sections to the plastic wing bones. With a little practice, this worked very well. Once the wings were constructed, I hot glued them to the frame, then hot glued the little plastic ladies onto the wings.
Once all the little plastic doodads were in place, I slathered on the epoxy. I used some West System epoxy that I had sitting in the garage for the last 2 years left over from my cyclekart project. For awhile, I was afraid it was too old and wouldn’t cure, as it was slightly discolored compared to how I remembered it (yellowed), and seemed to be taking too long to cure. This would have been a disaster, but it was only the fact that it was a comfortable 70-something degrees outside instead of the 100-something degrees it was when I had previously used this stuff on the cyclekart, so it just took a little longer to cure than I was expecting, but it did cure just fine.
After a few layers of epoxy, I hit it with the gold spray paint. I tried to do some “antiqueing” kind of effect, by putting some brown acrylic paint on with the idea of letting it get down into all the nooks and crannies and wiping it off the “tops” and putting more gold paint on the tops, but the acrylic paint wasn’t sticking to the gold spray paint, so I abandoned that idea and just left it with the gold spray paint.