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artfest workshop 3 recap

Art artfest artfest workshop michael demeng Misc. Creations! mixed medi art Personal

Last but surely not least is my final Artfest recap... Michael deMeng's..."Zoo-illogical" workshop.

Let me preface this post by announcing I know this style of art is not for everyone but it's good to keep an open mind *wink* wink*

The supply list read:

  • Gaudy old frames (probably nothing larger than 8”x10”, but really that is up to you) IMPORTANT: Needs to have some sort of backing! It can’t just be a hollow frame we need it to have a backing to build our relief on.
  • Animal toys, doll parts, toy figurines, various body parts from models. The figures on trophies work really well too.
  • Variety of found objects: Items that correspond with the size of the frame. These will be used on the frame as well as around the interior portrait. Could literally be anything. Bits of ephemera, text, and other paper images.

See, a supply list like this gets me all rallied up....You mean I have a mission when I go to the thrift store?!? With the best partner in crime- evar! (Elizabeth)!? Oh this was going to be (and was) so FUN!!! We managed to hit every single thrift store within a 20 minute radius of Seattle. We scavenged every toy section, housewares, knick knacks, vintage books, frames and games, etc...We even hit up some dollar stores too! Elizabeth took deMeng's class the day after me so any ephemera or left over doll/animal parts she could use....this kinda gave us a hall pass to get a little crazy on our scavenger hunt. I still have a bag of doll heads and legs sitting in my studio :)

I hauled way too much stuff with me to class...but I had no clue what I what type of creature was going to emerge until I started dremmel sawing doll heads and toy parts. Here's a look at my table in the beginning of the workshop, glad you can't see the bags overflowing under my feet!:


I got a little creative with thrift store finds, instead of using a frame with a flat backing...I bought two frames an 8x10 and a 5x7 and an old brownie pan, I was hoping to get some depth and a little extra dimension with the stacked frames. I had no clue again how I was going to get it all to stick together...but I had tools....and metal and e6000 and apoxy 2 part clay which can just about make anything possible!

this dragon above left was my thrift store toy in tow and it went under a massive deconstructive surgery...which I learned after class was the dragon from 1959 film Sleeping Beauty (kind of ironic considering what I made with it) I took off all limbs with a screw driver, cut off the tail, the horns, the tongue and the wings...I knew I wanted the wings in my creation for sure...but they were really big and I wasn't sure how this creature was going to fit  my whole brownie pan idea....but I figured I was game to find out and deMeng recommend I commit to my idea with the frames and pan and start with assembling those and the creature would I did just that...


I used a piece of balsa wood I grabbed at the art store in Port Townsend for a dollar, it was thin enough I could snap it in half and use a piece at the top and bottom to wedge the pan in by it's lip and then I cut a soup can lid into four triangle pieces and hammered them into the outside frames routed groove where the normal frame backing normally goes. Then I caulked the tiny gaps on each side of the pan and top frame to seal it up.

Then the fun stuff started....the creature came to life...a winged serpent mermaid of sorts...


wait, wait...I know, she's's ok. she's not hanging in your house....don't fret. Although I might send her to you for Christmas (gosh, I could just see my Mom's face if I were to do that! love you Mom and no, I won't do that!) The doll and torso were actually a vintage cake topper I found at an antique store in Port Townsend, right at the waist it was just a plastic stick, so I snapped it off then I had to dremmel a bit off to make her shorter, it literally melted when I cut it...and her poor wasn't really that long I had to rip it off the back of her head then wire it into buns to make it look like she had more hair than she did. Her crown is piece I cut off a broken bracelet charm.


her tail is the very end of the dragons tail...I sawed it down quite a bit to fit then sculpted the cut doll bodice and tail together with apoxy clay...while the apoxy clay was still malleable I cut little bits of soup can lids as fast as I could and used jewelry pliers to stick em' into the clay one by one before it dried all the way...the wings at this point just weren't going to fit they were way to wide to get into the I just went for it cutting the whole top and bottom sections off and they just barely fit...the wing on her hip is from the dragons head and her chest piece are found metal bits..


The frames were the easiest part (or maybe the fact I ran out of time...but I added a layer of caulk on the inner frame and smudged it a bunch with my fingers to give it valleys for the paints to seep in...the outside frame is just painted blackish brown...the inside of the pan was an experiment...a mistake turned out to be really cool in the end...half way through trying to get the paint off the pan by soaking it in water so I could start over it was time for class critiques but and as deMeng got around to mine we both agreed it actually looked kinda cool in the half way stage...mistake well done.


I thoroughly enjoyed deMengs workshop. He is by far one of the best instructors I've experienced at Artfest. I bought his custom palette paint fan to learn some of his tricks....the guy is a genius when it comes to color mixing and antiquing things. Just in regards to paint I feel like I learned a ton from him. If art like this doesn't send you running you should definitely see more of his work or better yet take a workshop!

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  • spindelmaker on

    Your mermaid is beautiful! In a scary kind of way ;-) No, seriously. I love this piece. I think you´ve done such a wonderful job. And I absolutely LOVE the little metal-pieces on her hips. They totally do it for me. But all the colors too. You´ve really made it into an exploration-art. (Is that a word? It is now!) Meaning that you can discover new things at every angle and detail. So cool. So very, very cool!

  • Shelly Massey on

    I’m going to start calling you DeMeng Junior. Awesome work! And that background “mistake” is super awesome too. I’d say that I’d hang her in my house, but my DeMeng workshop piece hides in the basement because it gives my family the willies.

  • abby on

    love it!

  • Tammy on

    this is cool girl!! love the mermaid tail with the sparkly bits! xoxo Thanks for being brave and putting her out there…I find it really hard to put stuff on my blog that deviates from the norm, (too many local readers in a small town LOL!!) glad you did. How has life been this last while. Sad we didnt get to see more of eachother at artfest this time. LOVE the little rocket onesie too!}}

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