Ammonite Shell #1
Back again. Those errands took so much out of me that I ended up relapsing. Ah, sweet Summertime colds...
The fossil jazz instrument ammonite is hamites maximus. This would be a juvenile specimen. Note that it actually bends the wrong direction just at the larger end. Ideally it ought to begin turning back in on itself in a new u-bend instead of away, but I found it impossible to balance securely atop my own big skull, let alone the more delicate craniums of some of my performers, so I made a theatrical decision at the expense of accuracy.
Hamites maximus began life as a styrofoam cone. I proceeded to thread 1/8" aluminum armature wire into the tip and bend it into the desired saxophone shape. From there, styrofoam spheres were pushed onto the wire one by one, largest near the top of the cone, graduating into smaller diameter spheres near the end of the wire, which was then bent into a spiral shape. All the spaces between the spheres were filled with a buildup of aluminum foil that was then compressed in place until the gaps were filled. Cardboard (chiefly from beverage packaging
) was layered at the base to form the ammonite's living chamber and taped in place. From there, the entire shell was wrapped in large sheets of foil and taped in place until there was a uniform shape from end to end (this was sometimes aided by hand-crushing the foam spheres to create a smooth underskin). The foil was then entirely covered with multiple layers of art grade masking tape (drafting tape works very well, too). This was in turn covered by a process of mache using tissue paper and glue, which creates a very smooth, seamless appearance. Lastly, everything was primed, painted, and sealed in acrylic.
Hmm... the pic of this shell under construction appears to be a trifle too big... I'll see what I can do and try to post it tomorrow.