Schooner and Iceberg Composition

Composition photo of miniature icebergs with schooner sketched on seamless backdrop.

Now that we are back from our little adventures, I am back to work on the iceberg scene. I have been building the set and was finally able to sketch the schooner onto my backdrop to take a few composition photos with the icebergs. If you haven’t been following, the icebergs were cast from resin in my own custom plaster molds.

I just finished building the backdrop, which is more or less seamless, so that once I add the ice flows around the base of the bergs, I will only need to paint the backdrop and let forced perspective do it’s magic.

The backdrop panels are masonite attached to a pine frame. I shaped the curve in the lower panel by giving it a hot bath for a couple hours and letting it dry in a form. I plan to have the final photos for this shot by the end of the week.

Photo from 3/4 view of set up for iceberg and schooner scene. Schooner is sketched on unpainted backdrop.

Finished Icebergs

mini icebergs cast from resin with plaster snow

Well, the icebergs are done. That is a big step for this next image. The translucent greyish bluish parts are cast from resin in my custom molds. The whitish snowish looking parts are plaster that I left on the resin.  The smaller berg was broken out yesterday and was relatively easy. The mold for the bigger one wasn’t sealed properly and so the resin soaked into the plaster. That meant it didn’t break out and I had to grind it down to the resin, which took forever.

These are two cutter bits that I bought for my rotary tool for this job.  The one is unused and the other was used only to get larger iceberg out.

two rotary tool cutting bits, one used for cutting resin out of plaster for miniature iceberg, the other new

Molding Miniature Icebergs

carved foam iceberg, to be used in casting clear resin model

So, I am making those icebergs that I was researching previously. I have experimented a lot with molds and casting recently to make my little man’s head. Many of the methods I tried failed, despite the guarantees on the packaging that they would be fast and easy. None of them seemed like they would work very well for casting an iceberg 50 times the size of the head.  So, I made up my own way… it wasn’t fast or easy either.

I used a “lost styrofoam” method. I carved my iceberg shape from styrofoam and then encased it in a layer of plaster.  I wrapped the plaster in aluminum foil (hoping that would make it easier to break free later) and then poured another layer of plaster on top of that.

To remove the styrofoam, I used a blow torch. Probably not very environmentally friendly, but I won’t be trying it again, because it wasn’t very eye or lung friendly either—despite my use of safety glasses and breathing mask.

Once the foam was gone I coated the inside with a clear poly-acrylic spray and then a casting conditioner.  Then, I poured the clear resin, into which, i had mixed a little blue pigment shaved off of a nupastel.

The images here are from my second berg.  The first is finished, but had a few issues that I hopefully prevented in the second.  I haven’t broken it out of the cast yet. I am doing that later today so come back tomorrow or just follow the blog to find out how they look!

Oh, and yes, I am holding the mold upright with juice cans.  Juice is a great way to drink something sweet without a lot of added sugar, carbonation or caffeine and pears are a natural source of fiber 😉

iceberg mold with a layer of plaster and foil, to be used in casting resin modeliceberg mold with second layer of plaster to be used in casting resin model.iceberg mold with clear resin poured, casting modeliceberg mold with clear resin poured for casting model

Build a Dock, Find a Lake


In addition to watching documentaries and looking at pictures, I thought I would do a little first-hand research this past winter. Since I spent all of my money buying art supplies, I couldn’t afford a trip to the arctic. Instead I drove down to Utah Lake.  There weren’t any polar bears, but with temperatures 20 degrees below freezing I imagine it wasn’t too far off from April in the arctic. It didn’t help that I was only wearing moccasins, a blazer and socks on my hands (oh and pants too, in case there were any questions).


I’ve also finished the stone quay, from which my miniature man will be departing on a seal-hunting schooner. Now, don’t anyone get uptight, the story is set in 1860, back when seals were valued only for their coats and blubber. They hadn’t realized yet that cuteness is more valuable—therefore not to be shot or clubbed.

Anyway, the quay is made of styrofoam, which I carved, covered in plaster, textured with spray-on-stone and painted.

The photo’s above are from my not so arctic, but plenty numb adventure.  The one below is my mini-quay.