In case you're wondering what a chrononaut is, it's basically a time traveler. Attendees were encouraged to come attired in whatever fashion from whatever time period, real or not, that they happened to be coming from! Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
These intrepid chrononauts just love to be photographed in their fantastical garments and it was decided by the cotillion committee that we needed a few vignettes scattered around the ballroom for photo opportunities. I volunteered to create an Egyptian themed vignette. This is the story of how I created it. I apologize up front for not taking more photographs of the process. At the time of construction, it didn't occur to me that I would be blogging about its creation. Having said that, here goes.
The backdrop started out as a bolt of beige cotton fabric that I'd picked up at our local thrift shop. I didn't know what I was going to make with it at the time, but whenever I see a bolt of cotton fabric for $3.00, it's coming home with me! I laid the fabric out its full length and then cut the length exactly in half. These two long strips of fabric ended up being approximately 11' long by 45" wide. I sewed them together on the long edges to create a plain backdrop that was now 11' L x 7.5' W. All four sides were hemmed, leaving the corners open to thread onto PVC framework that would stretch the backdrop tight.
I searched the internet for a photo of an actual Egyptian tomb painting. This is the one that I liked and decided on.
Now that I'd found my photo, all I had to do was get it onto my fabric! I took the photo into my Picasa photo editing program and turned it into a pencil sketch and then printed it out onto transparency film on my printer.
After hanging the piece of fabric on the wall, I used an old overhead projector to project the print onto the fabric. By moving the projector back and forth, I was able to manipulate the image until it was the correct size to fill the fabric. I then used pencil to trace the main characters and the two boats of the image, and marked the main corner points of the center rectangle onto the fabric. This way, I was able to keep the proportions of the original painting. After the tracing was finished, I transferred the fabric to my sewing room cutting table and began painting. I used a ruler and pencil to figure out the other linear sections of the painting, and all of the rest was done freehand.
Here is my 6'4" husband standing in front of the finished backdrop.
Oops, we had a problem... it wasn't going to be nearly tall enough to frame a good photo without getting all of the background "stuff" in the photo! The hemming of the fabric had reduced the height of the backdrop to only 6'8". We had to come up with a way to raise the backdrop. I suggested a layer of "stone" block beneath.
The "stone" blocks are actually a long piece of cardboard from an appliance box and faux painted to look like stone. The pillars and bases are made from foam board and concrete Sono tubes that I painted and then dusted with cornmeal for texture. Now, the entire vignette stood about 9' high, and that was good, but the overall vignette still needed something.
What this tomb needed was a mummy!
Mummy building 101....
Never having made a mummy before, I did watch a few YouTube videos and viewed several images of real mummies on the internet. It didn't look all that difficult. At first, I considered buying a fake skeleton and just wrapping it up. That is until I saw the price of those lovely bones. I opted for a more budget friendly and earth friendly option. Having just crafted a framework of PVC to hold the backdrop, I had several short pieces of pipe left over that normally would have ended up in the garbage. These became the "bones" of the mummy. I glued and taped and wired them into the semblance of a 5' - ish skeleton. The head is an old styrofoam wig holder. Now, that I had the skeleton, all I needed to do was make the body out of leftover scraps of fabric, plastic bags and polyester stuffing. Duct tape was used to help hold it all together! I did want the entire thing to be fairly rigid so I did the first wrapping with fiberglass drywall tape. There were 2 rolls of the stuff that had been lying around my craft area for a couple of years. They worked great as wrapping! Here is a photo that I did manage to snap that shows the end of the arm bones and the fiberglass wrapping.
I did coat the fiberglass wrapping with a bit of drywall joint compound. After that, I just started tearing long strips of old sheets to wrap the mummy with. It took lots and lots of strips!
As I went along, I would add a little more stuffing to fill him out and then wrap more strips over the top. Not perfect, but I think he turned out pretty well.
Here we are, all dressed up at the ball, inspecting the mummy in his tomb.
I guess someone decided that he needed a mustache.
Did I mention that there was a vignette contest that evening?
Vintage Gams © 2015