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Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

08 February 2016

I think his spaceship knows which way to go... (an inbetweenie)

If there is any pop singer I could be called a kind of a fan of, it is David Bowie. His songs have accompanied me in most of my adolescent and adult life. I enjoy his big variety in styles, his voice and the atmospheres he created on his albums. I was genuinely sad to read of his death. In the past few weeks his songs are in high rotation on my iPod. I must admit, I find his later work, from say, Let's Dance up to Reality not that compelling as the stuff he did before that (except for the Tin Machine albums and Earthling), but The Next Day (2013) is good and especially his most recent, Blackstar, is a remarkably fine album.
I wanted to do something as a little tribute to Bowie and his music, and what other way than to make a small model?
I took a couple of classic iconic symbols out of his catalogue and merged them into one display.

A little back story:
In 1995 I painted a huge picture (more than 4 metres long and almost 2 metres high) of Bowie's Space Oddity. It was used for decoration at dance nights in the quite legendary Vera Club, where I worked as a volunteer in those days. Not long thereafter, the piece was gone. Nicked by someone who appreciated it, I hope. I wish I still had it, I really liked it a lot. I only have some sketches of it left. This also was the starting point of what I wanted to make. It was the first time I started to do research on how the capsule actually looked and what I had to change to make it like I imagined it for Major Tom's spacecraft. It actually restarted my fascination with spaceflight again. Because of this, I started the collection of space books I now have.


A small drawing in an old sketch book of mine. In real life it was really huge. I wish I knew where it is. 
Lyrics of course © David Bowie
The build story is below.
I had loads of ideas to be incorporated in this build but it would be too much. I ditched about 90% of them and was left with what I will now show you.Base of it all are the Mercury capsule Carl "Surfduke" Hewlett designed with the recoloured Sigma 7 skin by Bob Bendorf. 

I added the Aladdin Sane flash over the textured skin of the Merc. 
I used some lame Photosoup skills to do this.


I recoloured the skin again, by giving it a new hatch, now with the window included, so it started to look more like a little one-person Gemini. It had to be able to open, and not only to show the insides. I printed two pages on one A4 sheet so I guess that made it around 1/48.




I first started with the greeblies inside. Lots of relief-like instruments on either side of the chair. I also had to use my imagination and some fantasy because Carl never made any instructions with most of his models. But since this would be a fantasy spacecraft, I could do whatever I wanted with it anyway.



a Bouncy ball is very handy for helping getting these pieces into shape. 
Just roll it, softly first, later a little firmer over the shape.


The 'car mat' underneath the instrument console is my own addition. 
I kind of liked the idea and it fills the capsule a little more.
Inner bulkheads, instrument panel (with some recessed gauges and screens for a little extra bustle on the dashboard), and then it was time for the skin to go over the innards. Like a glove. The hull got the Aladdin Sane lightning flash on its side and of course the British flag.
The hatch was given some depth by cutting out and shaping the window. I used a booklet of gel filter samples (normally for theatre lighting) for the outer and inner window glass.




While making this I wondered whether this position of the hatch wouldn't have been much handier for the Mercury Seven. 
 No weird folding-up kind of motion necessary to get into the tin can. Just slide into the chair. 
Well, I guess they had their reasons to put the hatch on the side originally.





Last parts were the heat shield (a slightly enlarged inner rear bulkhead, since the original heat shield was much too big and too flat to fit anyway) and the retropack. Here too I just fantasized and did what I like. So not a genuine 100% realistic Mercury retropack. The heat shield was painted brown. I used aluminium tape for the straps that keep the retropack attached to the heat shield.



Inside the heat shield I glued a little brass tube for the stand. It is just visible in the middle of the retropack.Well, that was that. a modified Merc for Major Tom.

So, now something a little different. Just like I did with the Gemini XII - Agena diorama, I used little 'pellets' of folded paper to make the body and limbs of Bowie's Pierrot persona from the Ashes to Ashes video. I thought it would be interesting to let Major Tom emerge out of his capsule as the Pierrot. They were connected by a song anyway, so it now looks more like Major Tom more or less 'evolved' into the Pierrot.




I first wanted to put the Pierrot in a kind of reclined pose but then I folded its right leg under his bottom and made his pose so that he would sit on the hull, holding the hatch.
With some layers of paint it gradually got the silvery colours the original costume has.

The big exhibition "David Bowie Is" is in the city where I live at the moment and although I initially didn't really felt the need to visit it, My mum took me to see it and I must say it actually is worth a visit. Not that it gets you closer to Bowie himself and it won't give you a new experience in listening to his music either but it is a very well made exhibition with beautiful displayed costumes, interesting audio experiences like soundscapes of bits of his songs mashed together with bits of interviews, lots of original handwritten lyrics, and there I also could take a good look at the real Ashes to Ashes costume close up.




His face was the hardest and I still am not entirely satisfied with it but I think it's the best I can do for now. I never was a sculptor. I like how it turned out. I now still need to do a better base for the display. For that I will build a 3D black star. That will come some time later.





It is sad knowing Bowie isn't here any more. But his music is still alive. And that's great.
Thank you David. I think your spaceship knows which way to go. 
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