Invaders from the Fifth Dimension (Ceramic Replica) 😯 😯
One of my favourite TV shows as a kid was Lost in Space. With flamboyant bad acting by its so-called “special guest star” (billed as such in every episode) it deteriorated to an unwatchable farce by the time it was filmed in colour, but it did have exciting and unique sound effects and the first season (in black & white) was quite slick in its day (1965) and was really well executed for the most part.
An early episode called “Invaders from the Fifth Dimension” featured a weird and imaginative papier-mâché (or something) space craft in which a couple of fearsome aliens required a “humanoid brain” to replace a worn-out guidance control system (seemed feasible enough 😀 ). Dr Smith volunteered a “small” Robinson brain for the task rather than his own which was of course unsuitable as too big – let alone morbid, villainous and feeble-minded. 😮 Anyway here is the bizarre ship with Smith skulking (which he did so well):
It didn’t do him any good:
They then “popped” a death (by “exquisite agony”) ring around his neck to ensure his cooperation in returning with an appropriately sized specimen:
What would such a pop sound like?
Anyway back on topic: A small resin model of the space craft (about 4 inches tall) was produced by “Lunar Models” in around 1990. I spotted one while nerding in The Galaxy Bookshop in Sydney and mentioned it to a friend who snapped it up. 20+ years later it’s still in its box, but he won’t sell it to me. 😥 Photos of assembled and painted models can be seen on the Internet, but these things are so rare that it’s unlikely one will ever appear for sale. Here is a photo of its main shell:
It is intended to be glued down on a plastic base by just the bottom of that middle “cone”, with the “prong” and “paddle” suspended slightly above the base. In the episode, the whole thing pivoted about its central vertical axis. There’s a little poetic license in the model – having only a few TV scenes as references, but it’s reasonably accurate I think.
I wanted to make my own – as an ornament for the music room, but bigger than this plastic version. I had a little experience in ceramics having taken a course at a local community college a few years ago, so I decided to build my own.
Here is part of it before the first bisque firing (just dry clay):
Here is the stupid thing after the first firing (colour changed to familiar terracotta):
It’s about 35cm tall and is mainly hollow with some hidden breathing holes which allowed steam to escape and prevent an explosion in the kiln.
It would have been ridiculous to expect the thing to stand on a single “point” when finished, so I applied a little poetic license of my own by extending the spike and paddle to the ground to form a tripod with the cone rather than having all three in a straight line. The very skinny bits had to be fattened up else it would break and the webbing provides additional strength. I think it adds to the overall look too. The ball was subsequently sanded a bit prior to glazing. It was quite an effort getting it to dry and still stand straight without flopping. I ended up lying it on its back on soft padding with the three feet propped against a vertical board over night.
A mottled effect in the glazing (similar to the B&W photos from the episode above) would be nice. The glazing on this small jug which I made during the course would be ideal:
Colour choices were arbitrary since the episode gave no real clues, but blue/green and brown seemed feasible enough. The glazing method might be proprietary, so I shall keep it a secret. 😎
Here it is with the glazes applied prior to the second firing:
The unfired glazes look pretty unexciting, but here is what happened in the kiln:
Colour/mottling of shell not exactly as anticipated, but nice enough.
The finished masterpiece sitting where I like it in the hi-fi room. 😀
(still awaiting the base which needs a lower firing temperature – another photo to come later)