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Cat Behemoth from Master and Margarita

Behemoth – transferring work in progress notes from the old blog

I was making another doll when Behemoth jumped the line and butted in.
Once the thought of making Behemoth took root in my brain, I had to make him immediately.

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About Behemoth:

Behemoth is the cat from Bulgakov’s book “Master and Margarita. Here are some quotes from the book describing the cat appearance and demeanor:

“…The third member of the company was a cat the size of a pig, black as soot and with luxuriant cavalry officers’ whiskers. The threesome was walking towards Patriarch’s Street, the cat trotting along on its hind legs… …”

“But worst of all was the third invader : a black cat of revolting proportions sprawled in a nonchalant attitude on the pouffe, a glass of vodka in one paw and a fork, on which he had just speared a pickled mushroom, in the other…”

“Тhe cat drank its vodka and Stepa’s hand dropped from the doorpost… …
“Get out”, Woland said to the cat. “I haven’t had my coffee”, replied Behemoth. “How can you expect me to go yet?”

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov
Here is the book online – enjoy!
http://lib.ru/BULGAKOW/master_engl.txt
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Good morning! It is 8:28, I still have a bit of time before I start my working day, so I am going to do something about Behemoth. First of all, I will tell you what is so urgent about Behemoth. I am re-reading the book and that is how it started. Behemoth is such an obnoxious lovable creature, I had to make him NOW.

Game Plan: I will start with the base, make furniture first. Then I will make a cat and I don’t know how yet. I have a few ideas, need to think a bit more about it. According to the book, Behemoth will be sitting on a pouffe.

pouffe – a piece of furniture used as a footstool or low seat. It’s essentially a large cushion that may have an internal wooden frame to give it more rigidity. Wooden feet may be added to the base to give it stability. So, first order of business – need to make a pouffe.
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Before making the pouffe, I spent a very productive hour hunting for materials and accessories in my treasure drawer. Quite a few useful things turned up:
– a large lacquered wood plaque for the main base;
– thin wooden plaques,
– red stretchable velvet Santa Claus hat,
– ornate architectural plaster pieces,
– golden cord and green felt for the pouffe and table:
– a few pieces of china and brass tableware,
– a miniature vial for vodka carafe,
– a silver ice bucket,
– acrylic ice and a champaigne bottle,
– a basket, flowers, fruits and salad greenery,
– a baggie of black microbeads – caviar!!
– candles and filigree for fork and accessories.

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I am sure I will need/find more stuff later, but this is a good start. For the cat I need black fur and I just bought 2 jet black rabbit pelts on Ebay.

This morning was pretty much spent on furniture frame for the pouffe and the little side table. The frame for both was made with a 1/4″ craft wooden plaque, 17 ga and 24 galvanized steel wire (armature wire) and magic sculpt. To complete them: let them cure; paint in gold; “antique” with brown; make a round red velvet cushion for the pouffe; finish with cord, paint the table the same way, figire out a finish for the top.

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This morning I had just a bit of time, so all I could accomplies was painting the furniture brilliant gold. The paint is the mixture of acrylic metalic gold and gold metalic powder. Next step after the gold paint is dry – brown oil paint to tone it down, in order to “antique” it and make all the details pop. Then put green felt on the table and make a red velvet pillow for the pouffe.

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Done – two frames for beautiful furniture pieces a la oligarch nouveau russe.

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This morning I wanted to do something small and not time-consuming, like make a couple of accessories. But once I got into it, I came back to reality only a few hours later. It is 9 am now, I just must stop for today and do some shipping. But I do have something to show.

Pillow is done – no sewing – Fabri-tac all the way. Two circles out of velvet, glue to each other (left side up), turned inside out through a small opening left for this purpose, stuffed with polyfil, glued closed, decorative gold cord all around (Fabri-tac again), a gold metal button in the middle.

The pillow is secured with thin steel wire going through the hole in the middle of the frame, plus a thick layer of Fabri-tac all around.

The tray is almost done. The tray is made out of a metal (tin tea canister), decorated with pieces of metal foil doily, painted silver, stiffened with crystal lacquer and it will be “antiqued” with black paint to make it look like darkened silver.

The vodka carafe is done – made out of a crystal top which used to belong until this morning to a real crystal carafe (big sacrifice! but I couldn’t find anything else), decorated with pieces of gold foil doily, with a crystal lampwork pendant on top.

The simple Russian-looking pot for pelmeni (russian meat dumplings, something like tortellini with meat) is done. The pot is made out of two of those little tin cans watchmakers use (one is cut) and pieces of 17 GA wire glued to the pot. It actually opens and is waiting for pelmeni – I think translucent white prosculpt will work to give the look of cooked pasta dough.

The fork is done – it was an ordeal to cut it out of tin can and shape it – flat nose pliers were very helpful, still a pain.

The caviar dish is done – easy – black microbeads swimming in a pool of crystal lacquer on a little “plate” decorated with gold foil doily.

The white plate is waiting for marinaded mushrooms (translucent white prosculpt with some brown prosculpt – should be easy enough).

The silver bucket with ice and champaigne bottle was easy as well. A part of silver candlestick, filled with acrylic ice crystals and a candle in the shape of a champaigne bottle, all glued together.

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The little cozy spot for the glutonous cat is almost complete. It was fun, talk to you tomorrow.

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Good morning! The silver tray was “antiqued” with black oil paint. Pelmeni are done, little marinated mushrooms are done. Plenty of food – even by Behemoth’s standards.

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Moving on to the cat.

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I made the armature for Behemoth – it was easier than I expected, but, due to the sheer volume of the cat’s body, it still took some doing.
Step by step: Galvanized steel 17 GA + 24 GA wire for stick figure. I winged the proportions and anatomy. Behemoth is a cat, but sitting as he is, he resembles human, so I made human stick figure.

I wanted to make him heavy – both for the feel in the hand when somebody picks him up and so that he would sit tight and not topple from the pouffe. So I stuffed his bottom with a hefty portion of 6000 premium grade steel BBs.

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Lots and lots of aluminum foil, tied together tight with 24 GA steel wire.

To make the surface a bit smoother and further tighten up the whole thing – a few layers of floral tape.

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Now, with Behemoth mummified to my liking, I will need to cover him with Magic Sculpt epoxy putty and fire him for a few minutes at 275 (Prosculpt temperature). My thinking is – if there is some air that needs to get out (and I am sure there is plenty of air inside), let us deal with this issue now and get it out of the system. The air will probably crack magic sculpt shell, so I can seal it and avoid damage to final clay layer. This is all nothing but theorizing, we shall see how it goes. It is 8:45 am, I am out of time, thank you for watching, talk to you tomorrow.

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Good morning! I have something to show. Behemoth is covered with Magic Sculpt (grey). Change of plans – instead of sculpting him out of Prosculpt, I just continued with Magic Sculpt in Flesh Color. Let’s see how it goes.

He looks very much like a pig, naked pink flesh adds to the effect. I sure hope he will look more like a cat with the hair on. So I am rather unsure about the whole thing at the this point – perhaps I will paint him black before applying the hair.

The eyes are human – I want to reflect the dualistic nature of Behemoth (in the book he appears as a cat and as a man). I have to admit – he looks odd in the bad kind of way. Well, I need to stop for today and think a little more whether I like the way it is going.

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That little carpet is a coaster, by the way. Great find!
Also, as promised, this is what real pelmeni and marinated mushrooms look like:

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Behemoth’s hands and feet are sculpted and he is painted black and is in the oven – heat setting black paint. Will take pictures a bit later. I got a question about Magic Sculpt and here is some info: Magic sculpt is a 2 part epoxy putty, it comes in 2 containers. Once two ingredients are mixed (equal amounts), it hardens to rock-hard state. It takes about 30 minutes for Magic Sculpt to start hardening (from the time of mixing), it hardens to the degree so that you cannot sculpt after about 1.5 hours and it completely cures after 12 hours. It needs to be mixed well. To check whether it is properly mixed, here is a test that I use. Mix 2 parts, roll into a ball, flaten it into a pancake on flat surface. The two parts are of different color, but the mix should be one uniform color. If there is any kind of “marble effect”, keep kneading. Here is the picture – the one on the left still needs mixing, the one on the right is good to go:

Here is very detailed mixing instructions from the manufacturer:http://www.magicsculp.com/mixing.htm

And here is Frequently Asked Questions about Magic Sculpt:http://www.magicsculp.com/faq’s.htm

By the way, I very much don’t like what I am doing. Behemoth is painted black and looks like a creature from hell. I tried to apply hair – not good, not working. I have another idea, will test it tomorrow morning. I am setting it aside, not happy.

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I am back after a week-long break. My store needed attention, but main reason was my lack of confidence in my abilities to do the hair. This morning I took a deep breath and picked him up again. Applied some fur – a combination of pelts of fur and flocking. Still not quite sure whether I like it or not, but at least I am feeling better that I am working on him again. Will continue and possibly make a second cat, I am not happy at the end. Here is what I have – A GIANT RAT.

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I feel a lot better today about my rat. It might become a cat after all. I will continue in the same way. The furring is a combination of pieces of jet-black dyed rabbit fur pelt glued directly onto the body and flocking. The fur is very soft to the touch and shiny. For the larger areas, such as Behemoth body, it makes sense just to glue a whole piece of pelt, without removing it from the skin. It is easier and it protects this wonderful shine of the fur on the pelt.

Smaller pieces of pelt went on the face too – I just glued them following the direction of the hair growth and trimmed the fur carefully, “sculpting” the face. It is definitely an acquired skill thing. The “seams” are hidden with a bit of flocking. The flocking was done out of the same fur – just shred a bit of fur (cut off the pelt) into tiny pieces, put a bit of glue, press.

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Good morning! I did some furring this morning – what a hairy business – I still need to vacuum the entire room. The legs and tummy are done, he is getting rounder and rounder. He also got some real whiskers – Fluffy contributed to the noble cause of art, I wish I could say graciously, but it was not. I snipped them with scissors (did not pull them, just an inch off the ends). I know cats need them to orient themselves in the dark, so I just took a little bit. He will grow more. A tiny bead of glue on the end and stuck them inside the fur. Fluffy – the generous (not) whiskers contributor:


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Here is what I have now (still need to do the front paws). Not as hideous, as before!

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I have a little more – I put the fur on the arms, and still need to do the “hands”. Behemoth also got more facial hair – eyebrows and “mustache” and even something like a goatee. He looks much more serious now. Not necessarily the final look – I need to sleep on it. He might be sporting a massive gold chain with an anti-evil-eye amulet.

Behemoth enjoys wearing gaudy jewelry and, quite ironically for a black cat, who in the book is the companion of the worst enemy of the man, is very superstitious. Well, here he is . It is rather hard to take pictures of a giant black hair ball that he is.

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I spent this morning putting together the scene and setting it in epoxy.

Behemoth will be a birthday present to my sister. As I can just hand-deliver this sculpt to the final destination, for simplicity I am going just attach it all together. The cat will still be removable and the tray will be removable too, but all the tiny pieces will be glued to the tray.

Collected all pieces that will be part of the scene, then put it all together for one more dress rehersal, marked the board by scratching – to figure out where what will go.

The furniture has little pieces of wire sticking out at the bottom of the feet so that the feet can be anchored in the base board. Drilled the holes, filled them with Magic Smooth epoxy.

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Then just kept attaching everything with Magic Sculpt epoxy. In addition to what I already described, there are new little details – I love details (at the risk of overdoing it).

Made two candlesticks with real candles out of metal beads, metal buttons and birthday cake candles – you can see one of them on the back of the tray, and another one on the floor by the champagne bucket.

Remembered that I used to have a bunch of tiny wooden carved chess pieces somewhere – searched for them and found the knight! Perfect! Just like in the book!

“… Besides these, there was an enormous black cat sitting on a stool in front of the chessboard and holding a knight in its right paw.

Hella stood up and bowed to Margarita. The cat jumped down from its stool and did likewise, but making a flourish he dropped the knight and had to crawl under the bed after it…”

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov

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I decorated the Morezmore key with faceted iridescent glass beads and made a really cute Morezmore logo keychain.

Overall, here is what I have now – all pieces are epoxied together, the only thing that is removable is the tray and the cat, of course.

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Good morning! Behemoth is done! I finished flocking on his paws. Also there was a couple of changes, namely Behemoth is wearing a white satin bow tie now (I have just finished reading the part about the Springtime Ball of the Full Moon)…

”Never, messire!‘ howled the cat, crawling out with the knight in its paw.

‘Allow me to introduce to you . . .’ Woland began, then interrupted himself.’ No, really, he looks too ridiculous! Just look what he’s done to himself while he was under the bed!’

The cat, covered in dust and standing on its hind legs, bowed to Margarita. Round its neck he was now wearing a made-up white bow tie on an elastic band… He had also gilded its whiskers.

‘What have you done? ‘ exclaimed Woland. ‘Why have you gilded your whiskers? And what on earth do you want with a white tie when you haven’t even got any trousers?’

‘Trousers don’t suit cats, messire,’ replied the cat with great dignity. ‘Why don’t you tell me to wear boots? Cats always wear boots in fairy tales. But have you ever seen a cat going to a ball without a tie? I don’t want to make myself look ridiculous.  One likes to look as smart as one can’.

“The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov

I also made another, fancier, fork. Anyway, all is done, and here are the pictures of Morezmore Behemoth. I hope you like him.

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