Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rana Photoshoot: Soup Tasting

A spoon carving prompted a preliminary camera test of Rana. I like how cinematic she looks. There's more surface texture on her face than I intended but it may be alright as it makes the whole movie looks for sure 'handmade' and slightly less in the creepy canyon.

She was harder to articulate than I had hoped she'd be. But I'm going with it. Pencils Down. Even if that means she can do less. I am thinking she'll be interesting to look at enough even if hardly moving.

Ended up using the spoon I'd made for her soup pot years ago as it seems I've lost the ability to carve a nice spoon. The new one is now in the prop soup (lower right). The new soup is super effective thanks to the gift Mike Brent gave the project of a jar of Museum Gel. I layered soup bits in about four layers of rolled out gel. The gel flattens itself out to a high gloss after about an hour or so and will nevah dry out. I tinted it by mixing ink into clear glue and using that as the penultimate layer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Great "Motif":: Presenting the Finished Painting Chicken Puppet: by Guest Artist Deborah George

Clawing back from too long an absence to tell you that back in the summer I was delighted to receive another visit from artist and art instructor, Deborah George. She was triumphant over the task from the year prior I'd given her to produce the Painting Chicken puppet for the series.

It took her a year's worth of very hard work to construct. Apparently, placing each tiny natural feather by hand was a sisyphean nightmare to do, with lots of glue maddeningly sticking to fingers and tools.
But did it she did! And a better person I could not have chosen for this as Deborah is an avid avian expert, keeping Conure variety of birds as beloved pets for many years. She was even able to raid her own birds for molted feathers and hand ink them when her stock piles needed filling-in on Motif's fantastic duff.

The concept was a black and white chicken with a few outlined feathers colored-in. Deborah did an outstanding job and added the touches of specs and an artist's beret for his comb. She rigged the wings to curve around a palette and to hold his paintbrush for Motif's limited animation movements. He will be tied down to the set with wire and strong glue. His head swivels nicely.

When here, she also made his finishing props for the scene, a pod with pigments and extra mixing brushes, paints (obviously made with egg yolk binder) that sit across the bottoom of an easel holding hand stretch miniature canvas.

She also skillfully sketched the 1/2L landscape from the Chicken Painter's pov with its underpainting. He'll be seen painting plein air near the cottage for just a few moments as the camera features surprising vignettes of creatures doing interesting things. Well done, Deborah and thank you so much.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Constance Has Passed

Long time readers of the blog will remember one of Halfland's lovely volunteers Constance. She came over regularly for many months, largely building the most difficult forest sets of the project.

She labored hard with me to make the wonderful bamboo grove set for the mothman, erecting the large white cardboard 2D foreground forest from the trees drawn by Peggy, and helped me get the birch tree forest to stand, among other things. She was focused, hardworking, artistic, refined, sophisticated. A New Yorker, in other words, having transplanted herself to California about 15 years ago.

Constance always had a vision of women helping each other with large creative projects as a means to connect and share strengths, like old fashioned quilting bees. I think that's what brought her over to Halfland a lot, that there was a certain momentum of gathering taking place at the loft every Friday where she could gather in a creative circle and work happily towards something together.

But she came more than that, at least twice a week for a time. She came for the hard stuff. She came to do the bullwerk of difficult physical tasks. We had the satisfaction together of completing these and admiring how they looked. She helped make the moon. She made an exquisite butterfly, a work of art, one of the few things made by someone else I'm excited to feature in the film. She roughed in the mouse's house interior, pushing down that inertia for me so I could make it. Thank you for all your help, Constance.

After my move to this smaller place, during my own long walk back to health, Constance would check in on how things were going. I did the same around Easter. She said that she'd been dealing with some inexplicable weakness and permitted me to bring over some food she felt might be good.

Paul and I stopped by her home with the goods and were stunned by her appearance. She was skeletal. All we could say after not having seen her for months was, "What's going on??!?" She didn't know. Her husband rushed to to the ER later that very night in distress, her dam of pain finally burst. And so began weeks of the waning of her physical life, that culminated last month.

There was tremendous support of all kinds for she and Richard from that day on. With much organizing help by her friend Paula, friends, ministers, and relatives were able to keep a near constant watch over Constance. We all took our coordinated turn taking her for appointments, treatments, and later, when it seemed best, just to come and sit waiting for her passing.

In a way it was a shocking horror show of an experience. I could not get my head around how a human body could survive such profound loss of all its lovely flesh. How could she walk and speak when tumors were invading places within her that must have confused all internal function. How difficult for her mate to watch and to endure such an ordeal. And yet, he did much more than survive it. He triumphed over it all with love, rising to her every need with strength and purpose. He would give her everything he could until this path was fully walked.

There was Constance. Still refined, and funny, and philosophical about it all. Needing Richard. For herself she wished for a 'clean get away', to be clear and complete inside herself and with everyone she'd be leaving behind. She took the High Road out from my point of view, demonstrating the noblest of perspectives during these declining months.

On my last visit she would forget to take a breath every so often. I'd remind her and she'd come alive with a gasp and expressively whisper, "Thank you!" Even then, some lucid aspect of her consciousness would ask out loud, "How do I get out of this?" Without obvious alternative, only a suggestion to follow the Light sounded hopeful.

If there is, as I believe, some sort of continuation after this physical experience, then I'm sure Constance's Soul is having fun somewhere, making silly puns with wordplay, and creating wondrous things. Maybe, if she wants to, building forests of the lasting kind.

Friday, August 29, 2014

I Thought I Made 1/2L Up

I have no idea whether this is really real, whatever that is, or Photoshopped or what but the idea is utterly Halflandian and striking. Tumblr The Lifting of the Veil reports that roots of trees in North Carolina have taken shape as emerging human forms. Nature beats me to it everytime.

Anthropomorphic Tree
Anthropomorphism which is the recognition of human-like characteristics or form in animals, plants or non-living things. This tree, which can be found in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, has roots which have taken a human-like form.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet Tico the Writing Mouse

I'm delighted to present to you... at long last.... TICO The Writing Mouse (larger scale puppet)! Here he is with me and his smaller scale double. I love how he looks running amok in my canned goods and hiding out in a teacup. His little version has had his latex paws and tail repaired with Omnigel. And now has a green neckerchief like the big guy. They wear different nut caps but both look great.
The small scale puppet for Writing Mouse (seen upper right in upper left square) was made 20 years ago. The larger scale version was needed for the Mouse House interior sequences. You can see the way I attempted to match him in crudeness and lack of movement while giving him more articulation in his expression. Build up style on dead simple Almaloy armature. Used tacky glue to fill out his shape with polyfiberfill, held until dry by a length of fine wire. His ears are a doubled piece of copper foil so they'll be readily positionable. Snout and bottom jaw wired to move and 3-toes and fingers built up with Omnigel.
Thin textured non-stretch fabric was sewn on for skin and fur, later painted to match. Back of ears flocked in custom grey. Tail had to be snipped off and re-attached further toward the end of his spine. D'uh. You can see how it was straight through him at first (first photo) and to where it was moved (upper right above). Beads for eyes and teefus. Had to carefully add longer hairs of white by cutting clumps from a longer length faux fur and sprinkling the fibers onto a lightly coated matte medium surface. When he was all done he checked out his house (smoking his pipe seen through the hole lower left) And reading the news atop a match box.
His glasses were made so easily (compared to the smaller pair) from a gauge I had on hand that I felt was correct. I used micro thin brass wire to secure the frames. I used purple sewing thread to wrap the arms and the bridge, just like the genuine antique frames I have embedded in his set. For the small pair years ago, I used liquid starch that became the lenses when dry. This time I used a non-toxic urethane glue (seen lower left above dried in the new frames and as a dried disk between my fingers). Lower right Tico models his favorite natural pod cap. His whiskers were made from stiffened faux fur strands.
He looks so sweet reading in his chair. And out back in the macro set, and climbing dandelion stems, or even checking out a our-world pencil. (A Ticonderoga #2, and how he got his name.)
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