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Bucky the Gibbeted Male Pirate

Bucky hanging in Fort Taylor
Bucky - enjoying PiP
Bucky Skeleton at the Santa Maria
Bucky - pre skin application
After enjoying myself at Pirates in Paradise in 2007, it occurred to me that it would be neat to make a prop for the event. I had thought a bunch of bodies in gibbets lining the path from the fort to the period authentic pirate campsites would make a nice display. Of course, I didn't figure in how much this particular adventure would cost, making it sort of an unreasonable undertaking for the most part. But once I set my mind to something, I try to follow through.

So one of my skeletons wound up as permanent fixture at Pirates in Paradise in 2008 (as you can see him at left.) He was actually given a place of honor right in front of the gate for the event, which no doubt made him happy as he could see everything that was going on. Look for his sister Becky debuting in 2009!

The Gibbet

First was the problem of the gibbet. For reasons of clarity, let me explain that the gibbet I am talking about is the cage that the body of a criminal was displayed inside after the person's execution. According to Wiki, Gibbet also refers to the gallows and even the guillotine at some points in history. I had originally planned to make one out of several formed strips of metal that would nest inside each other and open up, like those cheesy tissue paper bells and things. Then I found a company on the web that already made such a structure out of plastic, saving me a lot of time and effort. So I bought one from The Eccentric Gryphons. I'd guide you to their web page, but it doesn't seem to be working. Too bad because it is a nice structure.

Unassembled Gibbet Parts The gibbet is black plastic, which looks suitably iron-like and will easily pass for a new gibbet -- if you want a new gibbet. It was pretty easy to assemble; the kit included well explained documentation and came with all the parts you needed. It is held together with 1/4-20 bolts hidden inside giant black plastic bolt heads that screw into little pointed spikes which poke the victim (see below). Close up of Gibbet Spikes Bucky skeleton dressed in the Gibbet

Rust Effects painted on Gibbet Close Up of Rust Effects on Gibbet Gibbets were often hung at low tide by the docks so that they would serve as a warning to sailors considering a life of piratical crime. This also means they would have been wet and thus rusty. So I wanted to use that look for my gibbeted pirate and the black wouldn't do.

So I rusted 'er up. I started with texture paint to give it 3D realism. Then I realized I didn't know what I was doing, so I followed the instructions on this web site. (Hint: use sand like they suggest instead of texture paint - it's much cheaper.). Figuring the thing would be in and out of water, I focused the rust toward the bottom of the bars to make it look more realistic.

The Body

Painter-taped Bucky Latex Effects added to bucky Bucky Black Paint Effects Bucky Dark Brown Paint Effects Bucky Dark Red Paint Effects Bucky Dark Gray Paint Effects

Bucky Light Gray Paint Effects Bucky Light Brown Paint Effects Bucky Second Coat Dark Brown Paint Effects Bucky Complete and dressed The many paint stages of Bucky T. Pyrate. From above left:
1. Paint Taped to add skin effect, 2.Liquid Latex and TP (the secret ingredient) applied, 3. Painting begins with darkest color - black. 4. Dark brown, 5. Dark Red 6. Dark Gray,
This row, from left, 7. Light Gray paint applied, 8. Light Brown paint, 9. Dark Brown reapplied. I did this because he was getting too light colored after the light brown and I wanted to give the prop a darker feel. Note that his eyes, teeth and hair (in the back) have all been taped to protect them from the spray paint. The prop as it finally appears is at right, with all tape removed.

You'll notice I didn't model (or mottle) the whole.skeleton. As I learned doing my POTC Haunted House room, there's no sense in working on parts that will never been seen. However, it is a good idea to go a little further up and down that you think might be seen.

Below are some close ups of the prop as it was in the process of being painted. It's tough for me to get the subtler nuances of the skin with my mediocre photography skills but there you are. The left-most is the black and brown layers, the middle one adds the dark red and the last one features all the layers but the very last dark brown coat. (I particularly like the middle one. Barbeque anyone?)

Bucky close up Black and Brown paint effects Bucky close up Dark Red paint effects Bucky close up Light Colors paint effects

Bucky's upper torso You'll notice that there is no photo of the Bucky T. Pyrate, alias the skeleton inside the gibbet anywhere on this page. He started his career as a Gibbeted pirate in Summer/Fall 2008 at the Columbus, OH Talk Like a Pirate Day event which took place aboard the replica of Columbus' Santa Maria ship that sits in the river downtown. I hadn't gotten a chance to put the skin effects on Bucky, so he went au natural.

Bucky and his gibbet (it's a he - my friend Michael Bagley, who generously sewed the clothes, said that if it were a she, it would be called Becky) then made their way to Key West to hang out (heh) at a Halloween event they held at Fort Zachary Taylor the week before Halloween. He managed to survive Fantasy Fest and was featured right at the entrance gate during the Key West Pirates in Paradise event on December 4th -7th. Thanks much to Michael for donating the clothing and to Mary Diamond, for donating the shoes. If you saw how his poor feet got crammed into those shoes, you'd feel badly if he weren'ta skeleton. (Ouch!)

Bucky angled in gibbet on the fort wall Bucky side in gibbet on the fort wall The Bucky fort wall hanging mechanism Bucky in gibbet on fort wall at night

Above left: Photos of the final bucky front and side profile. In the center: Bucky musing over a Key West sunset. Far right: Bucky emulating the "moonlight serenade" thing.