Big Nazo is a lab located in Providence, Rhode Island where foam creatures are made. They are made here and then performed in all over the world. A close family friend had interned for them years ago and recommended that I see if they offered any internships. I also knew of the company after being shocked and amazed after viewing one of their performances downtown. The quirky costumes, alien like noises and music made the experience unforgettable. Anyways, I got the internship and started working on a draft puppet. I told Erminio, the owner, about my sewing past so he introduced me to the industrial sewing machine they use in the studio. He gave me some foam with fabric backing and told me to cut the foam then sew it back together to make a 3D piece. I came up with this.
After this step, I used a white, thin, bendable foam and cut out pieces then stapled them together to make 3D shapes. Throughout the whole process of making this creature I was fascinated with how an initial piece of flat foam could turn into a character. Although I do this all the time when I make clothing, making something flat into something with dimension, seeing it in this setting with materials I had never worked with amazed me.
Next, I used spray adhesive to attach the white foam pieces to the base foam fabric.
Then I wrapped the creature with panty hoes. I only used panty hoes for one section. I also used foam sports tape. I left some sections without tape or tights because this piece was an experiment so I could learn and apply the techniques that worked best on my next project. I attached the tape and tights with spray adhesive. After this step, I could see the creature coming alive because of its now skin-like appearance.
After this, I painted the whole creature with three layers of liquid rubber. This step allowed for all the pieces to stay together, giving the creature a skin-like appearance, and keeping the creature from tearing. Then, I used acrylic paint mixed with rubber to paint my creature and give it more personality.
I added a ping pong ball then melted a hole into it with a glue gun and then stick an iris into it.
Erminio, my boss, said that one of the greatest lessons he’s learned throughout the years is working with the changes that your work experiences. It’s ok to have an initial idea of what you want to make, but it’s also fun to just start making and see what you come up with. With this creature, I experimented with all the techniques used in making the life sized Big Nazo costumes. I have performed in a couple events for Big Nazo including the PVD Festival Parade and Story Time at Burnside Park.
Next I started creating a mask. I participated in the same steps used to make my hand puppet. First, I sewed a simple mask shape using the foam fabric. Then I started making attachable pieces with the light, white foam. I pinned them on to see how they would look.
I made another mask shape out of the white foam to attach to the fabric foam later on. I did those so I could attach all the white foam pieces to each other. I used stapes and hot glue to attach everything.
I added cheek bones.
I did a sketch of what I was imagining it to look like.
I started playing with another shape I would attach. At this moment, I was thinking of having the eyes be above the piece I’m holding in this picture. Then the piece I was holding would be the top lip of the mouth. The teeth would cover my eye wholes.
However before I continued with that design, I did more sketches and created more pieces to experiment with.
I made pieces and arranged them in different configurations and then took photos of them at different angles.
I experimented with putting an eye ball (ping pong ball) in.
I attached the eye sockets, nose,eye balls and their outer, clear shell using hot glue and spray glue.
I carved teeth with a harder foam and attached them with hot glue.
I experimented more with the placement of different shapes on my mask.
I added panty hoes using spray glue and started coating them in thick liquid rubber. Afterwards I added warts to the head by carving out circles of foam.
I then did a sketch of my mask and researched different animals for color inspiration.
I ended up using a yellow and purple color scheme.
This is a photo of me and a fellow artist posing in our masks.
I decided to add on hair/antennae.
I put a little big of foam sports tape around the base of each antennae so it would look like it was growing out the head. Then I painted them with liquid rubber and then spray painted them purple. I lastly glued the initial foam fabric mask onto the inside of the outer foam mask so that it would fit properly and be comfortable for the wearer.
This was my final piece.