We had a request to do a lifesize mammoth. The budget was very small and didn’t allow us to use an ideal species of hair as we would have liked and also spend the required time on the project that it realistically needed. This is my excuse for the poor quality of the project, but I thought it was of interest.
We managed to locate some very poor original casts of some mammoth tusks and hired these, although they needed to be totally remodelled. I basically got a shape, aligned the existing poor moulds with clay, shot them full of foam after adding some steel rods to take the strain and then sculpted to new tusks from the clay. I then cast these in fibreglass to produce the new pair of fibreglass tusks.
We started off by making a maquette for the client to sign off - this was in clay to a scale so that we could use the model later as a reference. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photographs of the clay model - just this photograph when I’d covered it in lots of pieces of kitchen roll cut to scale to represent the skins we needed for the project so that we could calculate how many skins we needed to order.
The next stage was to grid up the model up so we could superimpose the grid onto some blocks of polystyrene. You can see we now have some grids on the polystyrene - 6 inch squares that allow the silhouette of the mammoth to be transferred. The shape was then cut with a hot wire and the blocks were embedded into a framework of steel.
At one stage, we even managed to get Carl Church to come over to give us a hand with the welding. When he came, he stood and watched in hysterics as I tried to weld - Carl is an excellent welder and made me look like the absolute novice that I am. He made quick work of the steel armature.
We then added the polystyrene to the armature and checked the final shaping ready for the skins. Due to the size of the project we had to make the head and legs detachable as it would have been virtually impossible to transport otherwise. The skins were cut and stitched into place covering the whole animal.
Colouring obviously was spasmodic and to get the uniformed colouration, we gave it a spray finish. Not perfect in the real world and ideally, we would have gone through a series of dying and highlighting to get a more realistic look, but it was the quickest way to get a result with a tight budget.
The size of the Mammoth was 11 feet high and 36 feet long. Click here for more photos.
People working on the project were:
Dave Astley - cutting polystyrene, placing skins, sewing and painting
Mike Gadd - scale model, tusk moulding, cutting polystyrene, placing skins and sewing
Steve Toher - placing skins and Sewing
Carl Church - welding armature