Art: The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added

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    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added

    Howdy all,

    After a year of blood, sweat, tears, and bizarre skin conditions, my bust of President Barack Obama is finally complete and ready for prime time.

    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added

    In this thread, Iím going to walk you through my learning-curve, if you will, as an untrained amateur sculptor just ďfiguring shit outĒ as I go along. Though this isnít my first attempt at sculpting, it was a first for a lot of things and I learned a hell of a lot along my journey.

    NOTE: I was going to post the ďmaking ofĒ photos of all my sculptures in order of their creation-- but frankenswine requested to see the process of this one first, and I donít want to keep someone named frankenswine waiting. So here we goÖ

    (A little back story, skip if you donít care): In the summer of 2008, I had just come off of working on an independent feature length vampire movie directed by two friends of mine, who employed me to not only act in the film but supervise and execute itís special effects and prop-making. Long-story-short, the movie fell through and I had a bunch of useless wooden stake weapons, unfinished miniature sets, and Plasticine clay lying around, Iíll post photos if anyoneís interested, but for now, never mind-- So come November 4th, 2008, unemployed and pessimistic, Iím drinking beer in a Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn when it happens- CNN commentators project that Barack Obama has won the election. I jumped for joy. The next day I decided to create a bust of "The Prez". A year later, I finished. Why a year? Another long story. Okay, I'm bored already, moving on to the process.)

    THE PROCESS

    Stage 1

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    Okay, first off, I screwed up from the beginning. Having cannibalized the sculpts of my miniature set walls (refer to back story) I began inadvertently to mix various clays of different hardness, and poorly at that. You can see it clearly in this enhanced image from the finished piece:

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    What this meant was that for the remainder of my time sculpting this piece, I could never achieve a smooth surface anywhere (which if you look close is obvious). Not being mixed nearly well enough, each patch of clay would respond to my tools according to its respective hardness, making my life a living hell.

    But for the most part, I was happy with the way it started out. I thought it looked like Obama already and I was really excited. However, the piece had no internal support and, just being a pile of clay sitting on a piece of masonite-- it fell over, flattening one side of his face. (No picture available).

    What I should have been doing was working out the large shapes, profile, proportions, etc, using photo references - before implementing any detail work in the first place. But as I was and still am quite new to proper sculpting techniques, and principles of art in general, I was too eager and just wanted to render out all the detail right away!

    Stay tuned for Stage 2 - AND BEYOND!!!

    ~Christopher

    Last edited by Christopher Genovese; April 25th, 2010 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Trying to move pictures to the right spot.
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  4. #2
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    i totaly feel for you with the swirly mixed clay that sounds like exactly the kinda stupid thing i always seem to end up doing....that said the sculpt came out great i have nothing but respect for any one that can creat a real likeness.

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    From this picture it looks like a bronze bust with a patina finish. Still a great job... I can't wait for more.

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    Stage 2!

    Howdy yaíll. Iím back.

    Thanks to whoever's following this thread. For anyone out there just passing through to glance at a finished product (and maybe not interested in the comedy of errors I went through to make this) here's some new photos of a Hydrocal cast I just made (and sold!). I gave it a glossy-black paint job as Iíd initially imagined the bust having.

    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added
    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added
    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added

    Iím thinking about making 50 casts of this piece, each with a unique paint job. Right now, Iím making a faux aged bronze version. ~Speaking of bronze, I just want to give a shout out to that sick Innsmouth creature bust posted by dark_wraith, if you havenít check it out immediately! Itís amazing what he was able to do with a little cheap paint from Walmart: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=178396

    So without further ado:

    Stage 2

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    This was around February í09, the first time I declared the piece done (seriously, what was I thinking?). I went out of town for a week and when I came back, it just didn't look right to me. When I went in to change a few details, it seemed I would notice something else that was off. This touched off a process of having to re-sculpt the same features again and again. The man seemed to have different facial geometry depending on which photo I was referring to, I couldn't figure out what the hell was going on. I hadn't taken into account photographic distortion.

    Here's what I mean:

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    I didn't realized anytime you sculpt something based on a series of photographs, it's important to realize that the three dimensionality of the object will be distorted according the the camera's focal length and distance from the subject. If you care about accuracy as I do but don't take this into account, you'll be pulling your hair out trying to depict features that seem to have no permanent shape. I should have thought of this, I went to film school after all. FAIL.

    Stay tuned for Stage 3.

    ~Christopher

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    Mate I know exactely what you mean with these distortion, real pain in the ass, every time i work from fotographs(taken with my camera) its always very tricky...
    anyway, for your bust of Obama, the end result is great, and that thread is just awsome.

    more.

    please.

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    Sorry for the delay. Internet went down this weekend. Continuing the thread soon!

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    Red face Stage 3! Things get weird.

    Hey folks, thanks for sticking with me here on this thread, I appreciate your interest and please feel free to school me if you have any advice, I'll take all I can get.

    Right now though, I'm sorry but I have to get weird on you. Yes, the thread's still SFW. The thing is, I've had some some strange skin reactions to the clay I've been working with since moving from Sculpey to Plastacine and I'm guessing no one here's a doctor, but you are all sculptors, so I'm hoping someone else has encountered this problem.

    I honestly cannot remember what brand I used, the packaging has long since been thrown out, but if you know PLEASE tell me what is happening to my hands when i get them wet:

    Dry:
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    wet for 10 min:
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    wet for 20 min:
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    Okay, so I know everyone's finger's prune when they get wet for long enough, but my entire hand prunes-- to the point of being painful, like having a thousand microscopic pliers tearing my cells apart.

    This used to happen only when I was working with the clay, and a month or so after stopping use (and scraping my hands with a pumice stone) it would go away. Now it's like this all the time every time my hands get wet. I haven't touched this cursed clay for months and although it's slightly better, it hasn't gone away.

    So please, can anyone help a guy out? I want my hands back, getting them wet is an essential part of my quality of life they were always silky smooth when wet, but now they feel like an under-ripe cantaloupe rind. Besides being really uncomfortable it also keeps me from working with any water-based clays.

    Anyway, enough of that. Trust me, there's weirder things about myself I could've disclosed. If you're still with me here, I commend you. As your reward, I'll continue on with the thread:

    Stage 3:

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    This was in April '09. I came back from a week out of town and decided the bust needed some hair, retinas, and of course- a mole. Trouble is the more detail I added, the more I realized it just didn't look like Obama.

    This might have to do with a phenomenon called the "The Uncanny Valley". (if you're not privy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley) It's a term used in robotics, but here "The Uncanny Valley" refers to the way in which the closer an artist gets to accurately representing a subject such as a person, the differences between the subject and the representation become increasingly obvious (and creepy) the closer one gets to realism -until the object reaches the threshold of acceptable realism. A graph:

    The Making of a President - Final W.I.P Post Added

    So until I added these features, I had noticed only the similarities of my work with the subject, once I added the final touches, the shortcomings became obvious and I was on my way to another 7 months of adjustments (I was also looking for a job at the same time, as well as finishing other projects).

    But just like smellybug said way back when, it's patience that makes a true master, and that's a lesson I've had to learn again and again.

    Next post I'll be discussing the molding process, a first for me.

    Thanks everybody,

    ~Christopher

    P.S. What the heck's going on with my hands!

    Last edited by Christopher Genovese; March 16th, 2010 at 07:13 PM. Reason: typos
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    Well, I'm a hell of a long way from America and to me it looks just like your President. Consider also that you have created a wonderful piece that portrays a Man's thoughts, feelings and desires at a very specific point in time. That point in time is in a fraction of a second. It's done, time to move on to the next project.

    Sorry Dude I have no idea what is happening to your hands. Certainly some of the woods I use as part of my job as a knifesmith creates a reaction like that which is why I no longer use them! Think you need to see a Medico, Mate..........

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    WOW that looks just like him !!!

    Sketchbook - . Show Real - . Commission me- Online Shop - .

    *critique* advice* help full links* paint overs, highly appreciated !

    Submissions accepted;"DRAW THE CHANGE you want to see in the WORLD!"



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    iven: Thanks! I believe it a little more every time someone says so!

    Waipunga: Thanks for the kind words. And I agree, it's definitely time to move on. Can't wait get to the next project.

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    Christopher. You look like you may have some sort of dermatitis, brought on initially by some chemical in the clay or the clay it's self. You weren't clear, is it now happen when just immersed in water alone? Hairdressers and engineering trades are also highly susceptible to get dermatitis, working with chemicals and unfortunately have to wear rubber gloves from there on. I'm one those people and have been living it for the last 10 years, so I know what it's like to deal with. Get yourself to a doctor.

    The only other thing I can suggest is Barrier cream or gloves. Search and see if there is a barrier cream that doesn't wash of in water. Gloves: for what you do, probably not any use, but I think there is ultra thin ones similar to tattooists use, that still have some senstivity while wearing them. Made of latex or nitrile.

    Mark

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    Question

    Good advice. I'll probably will get to a dermatologist if it turns out I'm the only sculptor on this forum that has encountered this problem. I've done a few searches online and I've discovered other people describe the same phenomenon. I suspect it might have to do with damage done from over-using the pumice stone, I experimented with using it only on one hand and it seems to accomplish nothing in the long-term. Could be I need to toughen these mitts again with some new callouses. Thanks again.

    Thoughts, any one else?

    Quote Originally Posted by POP View Post
    Christopher. You look like you may have some sort of dermatitis, brought on initially by some chemical in the clay or the clay it's self. You weren't clear, is it now happen when just immersed in water alone? Hairdressers and engineering trades are also highly susceptible to get dermatitis, working with chemicals and unfortunately have to wear rubber gloves from there on. I'm one those people and have been living it for the last 10 years, so I know what it's like to deal with. Get yourself to a doctor.

    The only other thing I can suggest is Barrier cream or gloves. Search and see if there is a barrier cream that doesn't wash of in water. Gloves: for what you do, probably not any use, but I think there is ultra thin ones similar to tattooists use, that still have some senstivity while wearing them. Made of latex or nitrile.

    Mark


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    Very interesting thread so far. I learned quite a bit from reading it. The Uncanny Valley article was quite interesting. I hope that stuff with your hands is nothing serious. Oh and the sculpture looks very impressive too!

    Hauke

    Wanna see whales in giant mechsuits protect mankind against evil aliens?
    Check out: http://mechawhales.com/

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    My 3D printed action figures: http://www.hauke-scheer.de/
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    Christopher. Did a search through one of our industrial catalogs today at work, found a couple of water proof/water protection barrier creams. A word that popped up and could be part of the cause your symptoms, is defatting

    Definition: Defatting is the term of a skin condition similar to Dermatitis resulting from the chronic exposure of human skin to alcohols, detergents, chemical solvents and motor oil caused by the chemical dissolving of the oils (lipids) which constitute the cell membranes.It should also be noted that defatting increases the possibility of irritant contact dermatitis. Water is considered a solvent and takes the oils out your skin over long exposure.

    The barrier creams:
    DEBBA Protective Cream & Conditioner Barrier cream.A virtually odourless cream designed to protect the skin against defatting and irritation caused by repeated contact with water and water based contaminants.
    Pr99 WATER RESISTANT SKIN PROTECTION LOTIONprotects your hands from: washing and cleansing solutions, acid and alkaline solutions,metal working fluids, Water-based dispersion paints, cement, concrete, lime, dust, moist dirt, coal. pr99 helps maintain healthy skin when prolonged or frequent contact with water is required by the job.

    The companies that make these products, also make aftercare lotions for re-moisturizing and repairing the skin. What ever you do don't use moisturizers with perfumes.

    Good luck!

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    POP: Thanks for the feedback about my hands. It's a real concern of mine and I'm hoping it doesn't turn out to be something permanent, but if so, that's life I guess. I think you're on to something with the "defatting" article you mentioned, it would seem likely that I did that somehow, given that I'd been quite harsh with cleaners and the pumice stone on my skin.

    I hope this serves also as a warning to anyone who sees it to protect and take care of their hands.

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    Christopher,

    You've created an amazing likeness here, and I really love the look of the black painted cast. I would love to get one of these, can you send me a PM with some more information on price, size, etc?

    As far as your hands go, please see a doctor, your health is too important to let slide! I have heard of a few sculptors developig severe allergic reactions to polymer clays, and I know for a fact that solvents like acetone will de-fat the skin. Let a dermatologist give you some real answers though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Thompson View Post
    Christopher,

    You've created an amazing likeness here, and I really love the look of the black painted cast. I would love to get one of these, can you send me a PM with some more information on price, size, etc?

    As far as your hands go, please see a doctor, your health is too important to let slide! I have heard of a few sculptors developig severe allergic reactions to polymer clays, and I know for a fact that solvents like acetone will de-fat the skin. Let a dermatologist give you some real answers though.
    Great! I just finished another black cast and it's one of the best yet. Here's the listing with prices and options on different finishes:
    http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php...ng_id=43232772 I'm not sure yet what the shipping is going to cost, so for now it's $10, if it turns out to be less I'll refund you the difference. Thanks so much.

    Concerning my hands, you're right and I will see a dermatologist as soon as I can. I'm definitely not blowing it off.

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    MOLD MAKING

    Hi there. This will be the last post concerning the process of making my Barack Obama bust. Lately I've been pouring as many casts as possible to sell this summer, and it's been a lot more time-consuming than I originally thought. So it looks like I'm only going to make 30 instead of 100. If anyone is interested in buying one, see the previous comment for the link to buy.

    Completed Sculpt as of Nov '09:

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    As I said before, this was my first time doing anything like this, and I've had no training beyond watching tutorials on YouTube and W.I.P. posts from other CA members, so please, feel free to correct any of my terminology or give me feedback on what you think I could have done differently. I appreciate all the help I can get.

    MOLD MAKING PROCESS:

    STAGE 1, PRINT MOLD:

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    For this mold I used Rebound 25, and built it up carefully from this original print coat. I was worried this primary layer was too thick and wouldn't preserve the detail, but it ended up turning out just fine. My advice to anyone trying this for the first time would be to use a good brush that won't lose hairs during the process, this mold ended up being full of brush hairs.

    After this, I built up about 4 or 5 layers more, each one thicker than the last. I also used a thickening agent (Thi-Vex II) for the spaces under the chin, behind the ears, and for the line running from the back of the head down, where I planned to cut a slit for easier removal of the cast. I didn't notice much of a difference with or without the thickening agent, Rebound 25 is pretty thick as it is.

    Still In Progress:

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    STAGE 2, MOTHER MOLD:

    With the rubber layers finished and the borders of the base trimmed, I built a parting line for the mother mold with Super Sculpey, running perpendicular to the cutting line of the rubber mold:

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    I pressed in the ass end of a pen to make key holes so the opposing side of the mother mold would lock in. This method was somewhat unsuccessful, about half of the male-ends of the keys broke off when I finally separated the two sides. I also failed to incorporate any kind of gap or space for inserting something to separate the mold. Not surprisingly, it was difficult to pry the ends apart.

    Side 1 in progress:

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    Side 1 complete:

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    Side 2 complete:

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    For the mother mold I used Aqua Resin so it would be strong and take abuse over the course of making numerous casts. However, it's expensive, so I could use advice on alternative materials to use as a mother mold.

    Last edited by Christopher Genovese; April 26th, 2010 at 06:08 PM. Reason: added picture
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  25. #19
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    Finally I trimmed and cleaned the mother mold, then separated it carefully with a scalpel. Then I marked and cut a slit in the back of the rubber mold (zig-zagging the line so it would be less likely to shift inside the mother mold when casting):

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    STAGE 3, CASTING:

    When I started this process of molding and casting the Obama bust I had no idea if it would be a success. There's a million ways to screw up when undertaking any project, and I usually go through all of them before I prevail. I was worried I hadn't made the mold right, and it wouldn't work for any number of reasons, but my biggest fear at this point was damaging the sculpture I spent a year making, cause I knew that if I fucked up the original clay form I probably would have given up rather than trying to fix it. The damage to the original ended up being minimal, and remolding was possible, but I still perished the thought of spending another weekend fussing with it. So all that needed to happen now was to see if the mold worked. If I could just get one good cast out of this mold, I could say I succeeded.

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    SUCCESS

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    Thanks everybody for following this thread.

    Peace,
    ~Christopher Genovese

    Last edited by Christopher Genovese; April 25th, 2010 at 06:40 PM. Reason: added pictures
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  27. #20
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    one question for you man...how you make that hollow recast? thanks


    but wait...you aWESOME dude...!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by semoet View Post
    one question for you man...how you make that hollow recast? thanks
    It's a simple process, but I wouldn't say it's easy. First, I poured two very thin layers (about 1/8 inch each) of aqua resin inside the mold and brushed it into each space as best I could. Wait for each layer to harden. Then it's just a careful process of mixing more aqua resin this time adding fiberglass threads. Each batch should be enough to make just under a 1/4 inch layer. Then I carefully positioned clumps of the resin about a spoonful at a time inside the mold and spread out with a thin paintbrush until I covered the whole inner surface. I did 2 or 3 layers of that.

    As Aqua Resin is expensive, the first mold is the only one I've made so far using this material, and it is by far the most exquisite cast. For subsequent castings I've used Hydrocal using the same technique, but Hydrocal sets much quicker and I've had trouble with bubbling in the casts. I'm planning to cast the next one with a thinner mixture and see if that fills out the details better. Hope that helps. Good luck!

    Thanks for the compliments also.

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    aqua resin, doh i dont have that in my country, but i usually use Unsaturated Polyester Resin and yes i have problem with bubble too...before I mix the catalyst, I'll set aside some time so that the bubbles rise to the top.

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    I suppose you could use anything. I've never used Unsaturated Polyester Resin, but I imagine just making sure that first and second layer is brushed in pretty thoroughly is enough to eliminate bubbles, no matter what you're using. I can't say for sure what I did that made it work.

    It's always harder to learn from successes than it is from mistakes!

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  31. #24
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    now thats i want to try..thanks a lot chris!!! hope see you a next project here,....

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    Uhh the mold looks good man! And thanks for sharing your progress
    And he looks spot on, awesome work

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    That came out awesome, man, and thanks so much for posting all those progress shots, very interesting to see. Looking forward to future projects .

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    This is thread number one! I am amazed because of your talent not only in sclupting but in making the likeness so obvious! Added to that this thread is very educational! I am TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY!!! - G

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    @ clanlord, Sidharth, Frederik, and Semoet: Thanks so much for the kind words, it's great to hear. I'm just happy to be able to share my process with everyone and if it helps someone out, it makes all the headaches of a project even more worth it. You folks are super!

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    Chris, this looks fantastic. Doing a likness of someone famous is a hard nut to crack because if you are off in the least, it screams at everyone, but you have really captured his face. Great job! It was worth all the hell just to say you did it.
    Your hands, I used to get this same condition when I worked with concrete a lot. Try this, first get some real Aloe Vera and rub that into your hands several times a day. Then get some pure, virgin Coconut oil,{ yes its is used for cooking} this stuff is like magic for soothing sore skin. You can get it in good health food stores.
    Use it the same way. I hope it will help you.

    Mah ' Crub

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    Thanks for the kudos, Mah ' Crub. I still see a detail or two that bugs me, but I'm way past caring at this point. And if the US ends up supporting the bid to legalize commercial whaling in the near future, I might as well just smash them all (the busts). Sorry to get environMENTAL on everyone, but I mean, COME ON!!! WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? THE 1700s? Humanity has one big fucking complex about coexisting with giant animals, I'm thinking it's a penis envy thing or something. We already killed nearly all the mega-fauna on the land, and if they're not already choking on all the plastic in the ocean, now whales might have to face exploding harpoons en masse. We don't deserve this fucking planet and our descendants are going to fucking hate our guts.

    Help the freaking whales brothers and sisters, please! https://secure3.convio.net/gpeace/si...wlgb05.app332a

    Deep breath. Okay.

    Thanks for the skin advice too, I'll definitely give it a try. No new news in this department, I still haven't seen a doctor. But actually, I was at a pool party the other day and they used salt water rather than chlorinated water. My hands pruned up like crazy as always, even hurt a little. But bizarrely, at the end of the day my hands didn't prune when I took a shower. They were wet for about 15 minutes, which is all I can stand usually, and they looked like they'd been wet for less than a minute. Almost totally smooth. So I think I'll be looking into that too.

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