The easiest way I could think of to make it was paper mache, so I watched a couple of YouTube videos about how to make paper mache animal heads. I didn’t fully decide to commit to that idea until the Friday before Halloween, so it was absolute chaos to get it made in time.
Construction started with cutting, rolling, and shaping a large square of chicken wire so that it formed a tube-shape similar to the whale’s head that would be big enough to go over my head. This would be the frame for the paper mache to stick to. Chicken wire is pretty malleable, so that process was fairly simple. I taped the disconnected ends of the wire together so that they didn’t poke me and the surface was smooth for me to paper mache newspaper over it. After that, I made and wrapped several layers of paper mache around the wire head. Once the paper mache was smoothed all over the chicken wire, I set up some fans and a hairdryer and had it drying in my living room in front of south facing windows—anything I could do to make that process go faster.
Next, I used a pen and a box cutter to draw the shape of the fins into a folded cardboard box, laying my arms against the box to make sure I was getting them the right size. This allowed me to create two layers of fins that were the same shape. I bought a big box of acrylic paints and used a picture of the whale online as a reference to paint the right colors onto both the fins and the paper mache head once it was all dry.
While the whale head was drying, I mixed acrylic paint with a textile medium so it would set on fabric and then I painted a white t-shirt I had with the whale’s body colors and did my best to line them up with what I had on the fins and the head.
It’s hard to pick one thing, but I think what I love most about it is that it totally commands the street. Like, when you’re driving over the hill on 9th and 9th, and you see this big, colorful behemoth rise out of nowhere, it really takes your breath away. I think it brings so much character and curiosity to the neighborhood, and if it’s starting a conversation, then it’s doing exactly what art is meant to do.
Read Arianna’s article about the ‘Out of the Blue’ whale here.
Learn more about Public Art here.