Friday, August 5, 2011

Behold…The RENEWED REVITALIZED REPURPOSED Girl! (All Thanks to The Splendiferous Wonders of Snake Oil…)

A few weeks ago, I was taking my trash out before I headed to the office, when I spotted the below forlorn figure in the dumpster. One of the rear corners of her base had broken off, possibly from having been tossed in the dumpster, and (though it’s hard to really tell in the picture) she was sponge painted which made her look less “antiqued” and more “afflicted with an uncomfortable skin disorder”. Otherwise, she was in pretty good shape and solid plaster. I figured that she’d make a great addition to my jewelry display fixtures for shows and other events, so I decided to rescue her from her landfill fate.
Rather than simply paint the figure (the surface was a bit too uneven, even if I had primed it), I decided to cover her in a collage. Initially, I had thought about images and text reproduced from vintage medical books or corset advertisements. Instead, I decided to use 19th century-early 20th century era patent medicine/snake oil/quack cure advertisements.* I printed the images right on plain old recycled bond copy paper since I knew it would stand up to the “aging process” well.

After I had cut out all of the images, I dipped the paper scraps in a mixture of a leftover pot of coffee (recycling, yo!) in which I had steeped a few bags of black tea and added a couple of drops of yellow food coloring. After dipping the papers, I laid them out on a foil lined cookie sheet (and sprinkled them with a bit more of the coffee/tea mix to try to mimic the foxing of old paper) and baked them for 15 minutes at 200 degrees to dry them thoroughly.
I used plain old Modge Podge gloss to adhere the scraps to the plaster body. Since the surface was a bit rough, I didn’t need to prime it and since the figure (theoretically) isn’t likely to get wet, I figured a water-based adhesive would do the duty. I gave her one more all over coat of MP when I was finished, just to make sure the edges were all secure, then gave her a coat of clear spray enamel for good measure.

I think the old gal looks great after her makeover. She's now awaiting her grand debut at my fall shows, where she'll be modeling shinies.
*This led to a whole lot of gleefully geeky research and bizarre fact gleaning. I also now have HUNDREDS of more images than I could have ever used on this project (both coffee/tea stained as above and sitting on my hard drive). I’m thinking about starting a tumblr account just to share a “quackery of the day”


  1. First of all...what a great find!!! I love dumpster diving!

    She is awesome in her new skin!

    I am going to follow your blog.

    Stopping by from Blogging Buddies on etsy.

    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  2. I love the way you've bought it back to life!

  3. I love watching a project come together from start to finish! Thanks for sharing, and she looks great by the way!

  4. Great job!! She looks amazing. I have a model that I rescued, too, and she's in dire need of a face lift. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with her yet, but this is a really great idea. Thanks for sharing!

  5. what a fabulous find! And a really fun treatment

  6. That is awsome! And opens up so many ideas!

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words!

  8. That's an awesome story! I just finished a solo show called Recycled + Repurposed = Reincarnated. I had found a leather saddle that I painted bright neon pink and painted native american symbols on--the saddle was a dumpster I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about others who are keeping stuff out of the landfills!!!

  9. Looks so amazing after you were done with it!!