Project Tortoise

For the last two months I’ve been working on a commission for a community kitchen in Margate.

The brief was to create something along the lines of the Nando’s “check in chicken” (nope, I’ve never been to a Nando’s, so I had to google it), but to base them on my character “Señor Tortuga”.

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Week 1 – Design

The first task was to design the overall solution. I decided to go with a wooden spoon and base, given the theme and remit of The Kitchen.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

Having ordered materials from that source of all random and unwitting art materials, Amazon, I had to go about the task of drawing an initial paper prototype.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

And check that it would fit inside the head of the spoon..

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

Then before I was able to draw any tortoise outline or add any colour, I had to turn the wood into a canvas – by using gesso to prime the surface.

 

Week 2,3….. – Priming

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

In total, priming took about 2 weeks as it required up to 4 layers, both sides, plus drying time across 12 “spoons”.

 

Week 4 – Outlines

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

The initial outline for each tortoise, on each side, was done in ink from the beginning – no stencil, no pencil – straight on in ink, copying visually from my initial sketch by hand.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

At the same time as drawing 24 sides of outlines, I took one tortoise through to colour, to ensure that the outline would hold enough colour contrasts and combinations.

 

Week 5,6 – Colours

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

After establishing that the green colour combinations were successful, I then started the prototype for other colour combos, so I would end up with the following combos:

  1. Green/Green/Yellow (x3)

2. Red/Orange/Yellow (x3)

3. Blue/Blue/Yellow-green (x3)

4. Gold/Brown/Red (x3)

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

As you can see here, I also had to paint multiple layers of colour on each tortoise, (12×2 sides, 4 different designs). even with the layers of gesso as primer, colours quickly absorbed and needed to be covered over at least 3 times each.

After which, the original black line had been obscured, and so had to be inked over again. (12×2).

Week 7 – Finishing painting

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

At the end of week 7, several final layers of paint and final black outlines went on.

 

Week 8 – Drilling, sanding, gluing and lots and lots of varnish

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

It took a few goes to find a drill bit big enough for this. In the end,  had to use 4 different drills sizes and work my way up. And yes, a router would have been easier if I’d had one 🙂

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

And they all needed to be sanded back afterwards, as the giant drill had basically torn the holes out..

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

Before gluing, I had to use this little fella to ensure that any remaining gesso was removed from the edges of the artwork.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

And then gluing.. using titebond, non-toxic wood glue. Making sure that I left them for 24 hours to ensure no accidentally un-sticking occurred once I moved them for varnish.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

Finally, I climbed out on to the roof (sorry neighbours) and applied multiple coats of Golden artists varnish. Initially, gloss varnish to seal the artwork, then a matt varnish to achieve the overall effect I was looking for.

Here you see my impromptu spray hood, with the aim partially of helping the varnish land, but more importantly, keep bits of Margate roof dirt (or seagull contributions) off the drying varnish.

 

Week 9 – Done & delivered.

Finally these chaps were delivered over to The Kitchen. Mission accomplished.

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

hinstow senor tortuga kitchenct9

Enamel pins – Tortoise

I’m very excited to have one of my characters translated into another enamel pin, which is now available on etsy.

This character is called “Señor Tortuga” and appears with moderate frequency in my Instagram cartoon doodles.

Here are some process pics.

If you want to grab one of these, or any of my other work, just head to Etsy.