Rat Fink

   by Michael D'Anton for Re-Invent a Work of Art (2013)

Inspiration Piece: Rat Fink

Inspiration Artist: Ed "Big Daddy" Roth/The Misfits

This sculpture is a reinterpretation of the famous Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth Rat Fink hotrod icon. I chose to create a hybrid figure, blending in elements from the music genre. One of my all-time favorite bands, The Misfits, have a memorable song entitled 'Rat Fink'. I felt the combination of both inspirations would lend themselves to a very fun piece. Developing a balanced fusion, I incorporated the Misfits' Crimson Ghost skull and elected to forego Roth's bright color scheme, using a black and white palette reminiscent of the vintage horror films The Misfits frequently reference in their music. I began by cutting the 8" x 10" board into a circle, painting it black and using that for the figure's base. Two pilot holes were drilled into the base to position the dowels which would anchor the sculpture's armature. I used the Elmer's Glue-All to secure two cut dowels into the pilot holes. The steel wire was wrapped in a basic fashion around the dowels and the floral foam block was cut into pieces with a hobby knife and stuffed inside the framework to create density. This process formed a rudimentary torso for the figure and allowed me to use less clay for the main body. I then began modeling the Fink's torso with Chavant clay, working the stomach, back and chest first. Next, suspenders were fashioned on the back, followed by the arms. The head, ears and feet were sculpted next, also from Chavant. I attached the feet to the two wooden dowels secured in the base and the legs began to take shape. The suspenders were sculpted further up the body, over the shoulders and down onto the chest. The basic shapes of the hands were blocked out and attached to the bottoms of the arms. To fashion the tail, I used a piece of the steel wire for support and shape. Chavant was used to cover the wire and sculpt the tail and the tail opening on the figure's overalls. I slid the tail between the Fink's legs and inserted the wire into the backside in a fish-hook manner. The clay of the tail's base and the torso were then joined. Next, I unravelled the rope, pushing and embedding the cut fibers into the clay around the top of the head and inside the ears. The 'R.F.' was carved into the stomach. Sculpey clay was shaped and baked in the oven to form the Crimson Ghost skull. I tooled and sanded the skull to give it the finished definition. A black acrylic paint wash was applied over the surface of the skull, settling and drying into the recessed areas. The next step was to smooth-out all of the Chavant clay. Gently using a brush and Turpenoid, I removed all tool marks, rough edges and finger prints from the figure. Taking one of the hardwood blocks, I measured out the various shapes for the tombstones. These were then cut, round-cornered and sanded. An acrylic base coat was painted on the Fink and the tombstones. With a glue gun, I used spots of the glue stick to attach the head and skull to the body and the tombstones to the base. A wash of black acrylic and spattering technique on the figure and tombstones created the desired illusion of texture. For the finishing touch, I cut and painted a small strip of the canvas cloth, attaching it to the tail with a spot of hot glue, depicting the bandage from the original Roth illustration.