Spirited Away: Chihiro
All of us at Barry Framing have been getting ready to strut our stuff this weekend at the fifth edition of the Alamo City Comic Con. We’ve created some awesome new artwork just for the event, and I wanted to bring you a closer look at something I’ve been working on with Amanda.
Fans of Japanese anime will recognize Chihiro, the 10-year old central character in Spirited Away. This 2001 full-length feature by Director Hayao Miyazaki became Japan’s highest grossing film in history, and won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002. The movie is a perennial hit with Anime enthusiasts, and one of my personal favorites.
My first thought was just to frame a cool image of Chihiro for the visual delight of the crowds at Comic Con. While searching for the perfect picture, however, I came across a black and white silhouette which gave me the idea of doing something a little more creative. After all, Spirited Away is an iconic favorite, and deserved a really fitting tribute.
Amanda suggested we use the silhouette as a stencil and try a method called Alla Prima to paint the image onto a mat ourselves. This is an Italian technique which applies successive layers of wet paint without waiting for each to dry.
A local photo lab printed the image onto a sheet of re-positionable adhesive, the stuff they use for vinyl peel-off stickers. I was crushed to find, however, that the adhesive wouldn’t stick to the mat without tearing it.
Desperation might well be the mother of invention, but sometimes it’s just easier to use things in the way they were designed. If the adhesive was made for glass, then that’s where we’d stick it.
After carefully cutting out the printed image with an x-acto knife, Amanda and I got down to work. We applied shades of red, white and cream with a stencil brush, using a pouncing technique that gives the final product the spongy look of Alla Prima. We also added layers of shading to breathe depth and life into the painting.
The artwork is complemented by a Larson Juhl Red Komodo frame. We placed a plain sheet of glass over the painted surface, using spacers between the two sheets of glass to stop them sticking together. More spacers were added to the back to set the art away from the frame.
What started out as a simple framing project to add a beloved visual to a Comic Con booth morphed into this unique piece of custom art. We were both stunned by the terrific result, understandably delighted with the way a material developed to make vinyl stickers could be used to create a unique glass painting
This year, at the fifth annual Alamo City Comic Con, Chihiro is definitely in the house.