Restoring the Witch


I save my restore efforts for models that don't have a relatively cheap reissue I can get my hands on.  When I decided to tackle this particular model, Polar Lights hadn't announced their reissue of this rare model kit. I picked up a buildup on ebay pretty cheap, because it was missing a lot of parts (typical).  I figured to eventually find another incomplete model with those parts.  What was it missing?  Try this line up: snake, scissors, meat cleaver, cauldron, cauldron handle.  The left little finger was missing, as was one of the tassels on her shaw.  I began to despair of getting another model in my price range to complete this (I try to stretch my modeling allowance).  When a great guy on the net offered to supply what he could of the missing parts as well as a scan of the instructions, I decided to go for it and create what was still lacking.  That meant making a passable cauldron, handle, and scissors.   I'll start by saying that if you want to recreate an exact duplicate of a part, you really need an original to make a cast and go the resin route.  What you can usually get by with is a close match, possible as long as you can find good pictures of the part.  I began by searching the web, and found  enough pictures to begin my construction.

Anyway, first a couple of quick fixes.  I made it easier to work on the witch by cutting both her arms off, stripped the paint off and did the usual putty and sanding repair.  I carved a replacement tassel and finger from scrap plastic, I keep a box of the plastic trees and unused parts from old kits handy.  I then spent a lot of time on her paint job, with multiple layers of washes and drybrushing.  I wanted her hair grey, and used linen color and various washes to create a dirty apron.  I kept her skin in a straight flesh tone with brown washes, I don't know why people want to paint her green.  She's an old lady, not a monster! Speaking of old ladies, I gave her a blind left eye, a wart on her nose and mole on her chin.    

I next started on the base, completing what I had already.  The jugs were given a clear satin finish over Burgundy Rose to simulate fired clay, and the bottles were dipped several times in Mop N Glow to look like colored glass.  That panel behind the crates just can't be seen, it's too dark in there.  I painted the various critters on it, anyway.  I did a careful assembly and detailed paint job all around.

At last I was down to the missing parts.  I suppose you could do without the kitchen shears (called scissors in the instructions).  I rummaged through my junk box until I found a piece of plastic big enough.  Once I'd drawn the part, I loaded a router bit in my Dremel and about an hour later had a replacement that looked just like the pictures.   The one on the left is an original part, on right is mine.

Then came the hard job of making the cauldron.  The preliminary work was getting the drafting paper out and I drew the cauldron to the correct size and shape as much as I could determine.   I considered my options.  I could find a little pot, perhaps in the Halloween section of a store (not likely).  I could form it out of Sculpy (last resort, I didn't want a heavy hunk of clay weighing the model down).  I decided to carve one.  Balsa wood would be fine, but I couldn't find a big enough piece and that stuff is expensive.  I found something that would work in the craft store, it's called floral foam, used to hold fake flowers when arranging them in a pot.  It's lightweight, easy to carve and sand, cost about a buck, but a little fragile.

Here's the final recipe for making a cauldron:  Block of material to carve, artist's acrylic gesso to seal and harden the surface, sanding paper, a pencil, and a can of spinach.  I needed to start with a round shape, I hit on cutting the top and bottom out of a can that was the correct diameter and punching it through the block.  Then I  shoved the pencil through the cylinder of material, sort of like a candy apple, and started sanding the outside shape.  I used a template from my draft of the part, and when it was finished I layered on gesso.  Then I carved out the top only down to where the contents part would sit.  Then I just sanded and puttied until satisfied.  It was a couple of day's work.   

The handle needed to be formed into that nice distinctive curve, but I didn't want to use something like coathanger wire (too springy, it would tear the little rings off the cauldron).  I went on a scavenger hunt.   It makes my wife nervous when she finds me wandering around the house looking through drawers looking for parts, the last time she caught me chasing the dog with some scissors.  I wanted a few whiskers to glue on the Angel Fink's mole.  I still think it was a good idea.  Anyway, I ended up using some thick solder wire, easy to form but stiff enough to hold its shape once you spread a layer of thin superglue over it.  The rings were off some junk jewelry my wife donated.   The picture on the left is the original part, on the right is my replacement.

And here is the restored model in all its glory.   

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