I woke up extremely early today to get the shrimp finished. I had written out, step-by-step exactly what I needed to do and how I needed to do it, and the work went quickly.
My to do list read:
- Fill inside of shrimp (dryer sheets > polyfill > cotton pads > feathers > rice?)
- Cut cups into pieces and attach to body
- Glue bark and crab pieces to tail, then magnolia leaves
- Attach tail to body
- Legs! Hanger > packaging > toothpick >styrofoam > magnolia stems, then magnolia stems > pine twigs > crab legs x2
- Feeders, antennae, etc.
The filling and exoskeleton went as planned. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the hot glue gun adhesive created lines in the exoskeleton that resembled veins or warping in a natural exoskeleton.
To my surprise, I kept making additions to the design. The shrimp was not initially supposed to have eyes: these were supposed to be empty sockets, as in cave shrimp and the disturbingly deformed shrimp found in the Gulf of Mexico. However, in my reading about shrimp anatomy, I’d learned that shrimp have compound eyes, like spiders. I couldn’t resist making faceted eyes out of the broken bits of vine charcoal left over from my plant drawing.The shrimp also wasn’t supposed to have nylon broom bristles for antennae. In my original plan, one set would be wire and the other would be pine straw. However, while I was filling the digestive tract with potting soil and a mix of charcoal and chili powder (how I arrived at the latter, I cannot explain), I saw the broom and knew I’d have to use it. I removed the wires I’d already glued without a second thought.
The feeders were made of the hooked parts of a clothes hanger. I had thought I might use the tips of a broken hanger made of hard plastic, but this alternative occurred to me as I struggled with removing those tips.
The bits of “tar” on the shrimp occurred to me as I was leaving. I spotted an old tube of mascara and remembered something Professor Ruby had said to me about paint. I’d asked her if she thought painting the shrimp’s rostrum (the pointy bit above the head) was a good idea, and she told me that it’s “too easy for something painted to become a focal point” of a piece like this. I brushed mascara heavily on the front of the shrimp and more and more lightly as I went, and I was pleased to see that she was right.
I feel like I was in a perfect fusion of left and right brain modes. I was open to seeing new things as part of the whole, but I also had a plan and knew how I would execute it. Despite my love of crafting, I’ve rarely felt this way about a project. Often I’ll write out knitting patterns that never get knitted, or sew half of a skirt and lose interest once I’ve seen how it will fit together. I think that leaving some ambiguity and room for my right brain to surprise me kept me interested—the final look of the sculpture was never a foregone conclusion.