Alright kiddo, let’s get back to our little talk about failure.

So yesterday we left off with me back at square one, needing a heart for this damned album cover.

The liquid latex was a total flop, but I remembered that I had a bag of alginate. It’s the stuff dentist’s use to take molds of your teeth. It hardens in MINUTES. (I had it because I have a plan to cast my sons’s hands, and make key hooks out of them. It’ll be cool, trust me.) So grabbed that, and mixed up a batch, and threw it in a mold. After 10 minutes, I had a great looking little pinkish white heart. Wish I’d thought of it two days earlier.

But, I don’t need a white heart. I need a red heart. Cause hearts are red. And that pink was fading. So now I need to figure out how to paint this thing. The trick with alginate is, it kinda sweats for a very, very long time. So keeping paint on top of a wet, semi slimy surface…it doesn’t work very well.

Here’s a photo of me painting a portion of the heart, and letting it dry over night (hidden in the microwave so the cats don’t try to eat it or something. Damn cats.)

Next morning, the paint had dried, but it still sat upon a wet surface, so it just kind slid off as soon as you touched it.

Another failure. But again, I tried to think how I could turn it around. So I started to think, this is a vampire heart, right? So maybe vampire hearts are pale and gross looking? Sure! This could be cool! Instead of paint, maybe I could dust it with something dark to bring out the details. Well, I ended up using paint anyway, painting it on, and then rubbing it off all the high areas, leaving the crevices and cracks dark. It didn’t look too bad.

So with a half decent looking heart, it came time to photograph the thing. Now, I’m a hobbyist photographer at best. I have a nice camera, but that’s it as far as photography supplies. Luckily, I have a semi-pro friend who loaned me his lightbox. This was perfect, as I wanted a nice solid white background for this photo.

Here’s the thing, though. Just cause you have a lightbox doesn’t mean you have the lights or knowledge on how to use it. And my reluctance to ask for help from others meant it never even crossed my mind to call my friend. (Dumb, I know) Luckily I had several lamps left over from my Stranger Things Halloween decor, so I used those to to light the box as best I could. I’d say I had about 75% of the light I needed. So, I took my alginate heart, put it on some white foam board, and stabbed it with my custom made stake. To my surprise, it worked! I thought for sure it would topple over and I’d have to figure out some way to hold the stake up, but sure enough, that alginate was heavy enough to balance it. Now I just needed an excessive amount of blood on top! I whipped up some corn syrup and food coloring (remember, to add green, or else it won’t be dark enough) and had more than enough fake blood to stage a massacre. (Yes, I used fake blood. Don’t act surprised. I’m not gonna waste the good stuff on a silly photograph. )

Whilst applying the fake blood, I needed it to kinda splatter to have the right look. So I tried flicking the blood onto the foam board, but it just didn’t look right. It didn’t have the angle I needed. So I tried getting deep into the lightbox, and flinging it from an angle. So, there I was, flinging dark red liquid inside a perfectly white box, not thinking about the consequences. As I stood back up to look at my progress, I see that I’ve gotten blood all over my friend’s lightbox. I don’t know how expensive this thing is, but I can’t imagine it’s cheap. I panic for a moment, but ultimately come to the conclusion “Well, if it’s ruined, I might as well go all in.” and I start splattering blood all over the place, lightbox be damned. If I’m going to have to buy him a new one, at least I could get good photos out of it.

I snap as many photos as I can from as many angles as I can, but because of the nature of the lightbox, I’m limited to only slight variations. I’m trying to move quickly, because in the back of my head is a little hope that maybe I can wash out the red if I get to it quickly enough.

Once I get all the photos done, picture a man standing at a kitchen sink, with a lightbox half the size of a refrigerator, frantically hosing it out and cursing quietly to himself. Much to my surprise, IT WORKED! Not a scrap of evidence. No blood anywhere. (If only it were always that easy!)

So, photos taken, it was time to sit down with Photoshop and see what I could create with this mess of photos I’d taken. Without further ado, here’s the cassette cover I came up with:

As you can see, we have a white thing, surrounded by a bunch of black stuff, smoking a giant blunt. Totally the effect I was going for. It just screams love, loss, and heartbreak, doesn’t it?

No? My thoughts exactly.

So here we are again, back to square zero.

This whole experiment was an abject failure, but you know what? I didn’t mind at all. I’d given it my best, and while it didn’t work out, I had fun experimenting. I was trying new things, throwing all my effort into it, really flying by the seat of my pants. It was FUN. If nothing else, I have a good story to tell.

But the best part of all is, I was able to do it because of you. When I ran out to the grocery store at 11pm to buy corn syrup, I was thinking about how your support is what motivates me to take my silly ideas and actually try them. I’ve had ridiculous ideas all my life, but most of them stay in that “yeah, that would be fun” part of my brain, and rarely make it to the “let’s get this made” section. But now, because of your support, those ideas keep bubbling up, and actually doing them makes sense, because I know you’ll enjoy it, and you’ll have my back the whole way. It’s really one of the most amazing feelings. I hope you can appreciate how much it means to me. I hope you’re having even half as much fun as I am with all this.

So then, if that atrocity up there isn’t the final album cover, what is? Well, I’m going to show you. But not right now. I want to make sure it’s just right, cause you deserve the best.

Keep being awesome,
Vlad, your Vampire Step-Dad