JIM DORAN

Actor Factory

Silicon molds and plastic mixture

I’ve written previously about my lifelong proclivity for melting army men and cowboys into new creatures. I’ve recently discovered a new twist on the theme – making molds from them, and casting new figures in plastic!

I know, I know – the world doesn’t need more plastic waste, and I won’t make a career out of this. But, it’s immensely satisfying to have single form characters, with no melted parts and weak joints.

I’ve been reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth again. In chapter four, he says two things that I find relevant to what I’m doing here. First, he says:

We need to honor the world of things, not despise it. Each thing has Beingness, is a temporary form that has its origin within the formless one Life, the source of all things, all bodies, all forms.

He goes on the write:

In most ancient cultures, people believed that everything, even so­ called inanimate objects, had an indwelling spirit, and in this respect they were closer to the truth than we are today.

I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein doing Weird Science – making hosts for indwelling spirits.

I’m still getting the hang of the casting process. Below are some early efforts.

Lobster tail with human legs attached

One example – I took the legs from a cowboy, and fused them with the tail of a plastic lobster.

Green, White, Pink and Orange Lobster tail men

I tried creating an anthropomorphic foot guy. Below, the one on the left is the original, and the other two were early casts.

Giant foot people

I liked this guy so much that I took the idea further. I found the most perfect Bond-like villain figure. Meet, Dr. Stinky (and his pet, Smelly). First, the original made from several different figures and parts:

Sexy Villain

Here are smaller figures, which didn’t quite turn out as I hoped.

And here are some work in progress photos.

One of the lessons I’ve learned is, when Smooth-On says something has a 3 minute “pot life,” then I really need to get it mixed and poured in 2 minutes 45 seconds. Another lesson – make sure there are vents (made with straws or coffee stirrers) for air to escape.

Next, I’m going to try slightly larger figures.

Update: I made a trailer for the villains…

I loved “Welcome to Marwen”

Steve Carell in the excellent "Welcome to Marwen"

There are a few movies that are in constant rotation in my studio/home. I watch and/or listen to them while I work and/or workout. I’m not saying they are cinematic masterpieces, only that I love them. It’s the highest praise I can give. These movies continue to provide rewards with consecutive viewings.

I just saw Welcome to Marwen, it immediately earned a spot on my tiny, exclusive list.

Steve Carell plays Mark Hogancamp, an artist who had his memories and drawing skills beaten out of him outside of a bar when he drunkenly admitted he likes to wear women’s shoes.

Welcome to Marwen Gals

Much of the narrative takes place in Hogancamp’s yard, in a model town he created called Marwen. Barbie like action figures (the characters in the film actually call them action figures, bless) interact with a puppet figure Hogancamp. It’s an elaborate coping mechanism that highlights the resilience of imagination. He stages realistic scenes and photographs them. The shift between two worlds – a miniature facsimile and the “real” world – is enticing. Plus, the bad guys are Nazis and they are repeatedly pummeled by his stiletto wearing female protectors. The sets are wonderful. And Carell’s Hogancamp is endearing without being sappy. He finds peace and acceptance in his internal world – who doesn’t want that?

I read a shitty review of this film (there is no shortage of them) that noted Welcome to Marwen is for people who complain about Hollywood’s formulaic films. I went to see this with a friend, and we both thought the movie felt “loooooooong.” But, that’s not a bad thing, and I also think this deserves several initial viewings. Does it have some problems? Probably. But it’s so good.

The real Mark Hogancamp

It’s directed by Robert Zemeckis, who directed Back to the Future movies, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?Cast Away, and Forrest Gump.  I think this film is a labour of love, and perhaps wasn’t really positioned to be a blockbuster. I don’t care if it was. I’m glad they got this story out into the world. There’s even a nod to Back to the Future.