So I'm working on this haunted house walk-through attraction with some friends called 'Nightmare at the Museum' in which the exhibits come to life. In one of the rooms, is the storage room in which a crate has fallen and broken open to reveal that it encased the Ark of the Covenant (from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'). My friends wanted to build one but needed someone to make the cherubim on top. I remember those cherubs from the movie and the design facinated me. I always thought it would be fun to have a set of those to put up on my desk so I volunteered to do it.
We did some online research. There are many depictions of the cherubs as you can see here:
I noticed that they all are pretty similar in concept. That's because in the Bible it actually describes how the Ark was to be constructed (even to the exact measurements!). It was to be a box made of wood and plated in gold. On top of the box was the cover or "Mercy Seat". Two cherubs made of gold were to be on either end facing each other with their wings outstretched and touching. You can read all about it here.
The most popular version is the one from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' so that's what we decided to make.
We found a few sites that had detailed pictures and schematics on how to build your own Ark of the Covenant replicated prop from the movie. Here's is some of that reference material:
(oooookay....I'll keep that in mind...)
so here's mine....(granted, I know it not EXACT. Even with all the reference, it was still hard to see the full detail so I had to take a few liberties and while I was at it, I might as well do it to how I wanted to see it. Its been awhile since I sculpted - maybe even YEARS! When I added up the time spent to make this, it took me about 3 - 4 eight-hour days.)
I set up in the dining room which made my wife a little concerned. (she does that groan that Marge Simpson makes about Homer.) This way, I can be near the kids and feel like part of the family. The kids took over a box of clay and had fun using the pasta maker (which I use to help knead and soften the clay to make it workable).
First, I blew up an image of the cherub to size. Then made a wire armature to match. Then I slapped some clay on, roughing out the forms. This process took about 8 hours.
(if you look closely, you can see a toy box that looks like the Ark. My kids asked, "Can we put candy in there?")
Then I started refining the shapes and adding detail:
The hardest part was sculpting that tiny face. As you can see it was about the size of a quarter. Originally, I tried sculpting it by trying to work my fingers between the wood and wings--this proved to be a useless waste f time. Then, I got this idea to sculpt the face , bake it then squeeze it into the main sculpture. "BRILLIANT!" , I tell you.
As I was sculpting it, I was thinking, "Why am I spending so much time on something no one will see?" Then I thought 1) because I know people will want to look on the underside and expect to see something there and 2.) because I'll know! I'm creating art--I have to feel good about it.
I swear, I could have gone on forever finessing this piece, smoothening it out, taking out pocks and finger prints, etc. until finally I just had to call it "done". At times, it's fair enough to say, "This was my best effort and what I was able to do in the time given."
Now its up to my friend to make mold an cast it up!