Thursday, August 03, 2006

I Don't Do Math

Montage of the cottage progress by end of day. Things are moving along.

Another chunk of work. Double yay. The first thing to do was to set about correcting the angles of the little turret top walls. When I posted one of the photos yesterday I noticed that the vertical lines between the facets of the topper's walls were anything but (I corrected yesterday's image digitally but the way it was really can be seen below.) And, people, I do not mean to embarrass my American brethren by stating this admission but... I do not do math. As such I could not begin to calculate the parabolas or other high Euclidean geometry required to handle all the angles, slopes, and calculus of making this little roof loft/room. After trying several of my usual mathematic ape-like work-arounds, I finally gave up (further) and again consciously decided on what my method for creating the set would have to be.

I realized that my technique would be to literally sculpt the cottage out of paper and board. I kept adding smaller pieces with masking tape to shape it around tree trunks and other odd characteristics. It really worked for me. Once complete, the perfected paper structure can be cut into template pieces and reproduced in other materials. The roof for example may become thatch matting or small wooden shingles, perhaps a combo of both. I tried out twigs as window mullions and began to form the beginnings of a porch. All kinds of serendipitous ideas for shooting the film came about through actually beginning to build the set and peering inside,--it's wonderful! Notions and details got fleshed out a bit more as the cottage was filled in further. I added more character to the roofline and raised an "eyebrow" over the bay window. And I finally got the topper how I wanted it, see top pic, far left.

It has been an invaluable activity to embark (hee) on actually making this tree set to scale. I realize I could have worked much of it out in miniature first, or on graph paper, etc. But I guess everyone finds the approach they prefer. Mine is to make a life size model out of paper/board how I want it and then employ other materials to refine the thing in a series of drafts. This is how I do everything, I just didn't see that before today. Perhaps if I did have the capacity to learn math I might have better tools at my disposal for accomplishing things. But I intend to manage, regardless, with whatever tools I already possess.

surprises of the day were the little faces that began to appear in the cottage elements.


  1. Anonymous10:16 AM

    Fantastic progress, Shel. This is really good to see. At last the cottage is being done. I do miss seeing some animation from time to time. Perhaps with one of your other characters. So far we have only seen Rana. PK

  2. GO Shelley, GO Shelley! oomph oomph oomph oomph oomph oomph (thats a techno beat...not me being punched in the gut :)

    I tend to work the same way as you Sven might say, we think with our hands...its all coming along nicely, the finished set will be beautiful...

  3. Right and thanks, Husband, I'd like to do some sculpting of other characters and more practice animation clips of little side critters. Stay tuned.

    Thanks Jeffery, love that line; thinking with hands, man is that the truth or what?! You just reminded me of some 3-D paper sketches by architect Frank Gehry I saw in person last year that looked like nothing more than crumpled paper laying on a backing. I do not mean perfect models made by laborious tedious perfection to scale, no, I precisely mean like crumpled paper. I'm looking for a link to show you. (Found it!: This is apparently his initial method of creating buildings.

    Then the software people turn the shapes into polygons and voilÄ, perfect manufactured shapes:

    "Gehry began design by building a paper model characterized by irregular, flower-like curves. The design model was then digitized using a Firefly optical digitizing system and the resulting x, y, z coordinates were feed into an IBM RISC/6000 running CATIA. The surfaces were then rationalized in CATIA to achieve repetition without sacrificing form. Using the CATIA database of the rationalized surface models, a physical model was computer milled, compared to the original cardboard model and adjusted where necessary."

  4. Well Shelley its looking good, nice steady progress.

    I am sure you could learn math if you really wanted to (that's my father the math teacher speaking) but you are problem solving in a different way which probably keeps you in creative mode instead of locked in battle with a calculator where you would lose your creative flow.

    Its kind of like you are working with patterns to "build" clothing just applying it to home construction instead. I think you are building a home Rana will love- keep it up.

  5. Thanks Mark, I was passionately interested in Everything when I was about 12, so much so that I felt the need to make a list of all the things I wanted to enjoy and excel in through my lifetime (alphabetically of course); art, architecture, ballet... the list went on for two pages. I was (surprise) overwhelmed and decided some of these things had to be eliminated. I picked math, languages, and music. So, crooked houses, in poor English, without a soundtrack?

    Anywaaaaay, It's funny you likened my pattern making to clothing design, as my grandmother was a fashion designer in the sixties and had a shop on Melrose where celebrities and other stylish women would come for a little bohemian flourish. She made clothes without math too, shaping the fabrics and stitching willy nilly (and you know how painful THAT can be!) The thing is, I always felt that if she had the ability to learn "proper" pattern drafting she might of been a more substantial designer. But as I write this out I'm now thinking that she was what she was and anything else she might or might not have been is neither here nor there... thanks for bringing that out and for the point about my keeping on the right brain side might be ok for me.

  6. Uh, the non-math alphabetizing where the words are grouped by first letter. blush.

    Mark, your father taught math?! Do you enjoy it then?

  7. Anonymous4:57 PM

    Oh goodness, I love it! the tree does look like its growing from the back. The windows with sticks are inspired, and I love the roof line! Wow, I just want to move in now...

  8. Thanks Ulla! It is a fantasy place for me too. I'm making a land and home in which I would love to live, and perhaps do, in my imagination. You are welcome to come by for tea and biscuits anytime.

    The funny thing is to watch my cats roam through the cottage to check things out or hang out on the porch like it's a real house! hee.

    By the way, you are a finder of extraordinarily artistic things and having you see the rough stages of this project is a slight challenge for me. I feel a little embarrassed to show Halfland in progress because people may not help but think that what they are seeing is how it will look. But at least seeing something in process is a bit different experience than one already finished.

  9. Ulla, by the way, wouldn't you like a Halfland Highly-COLLECTIBLE commenerative Limited Edition Button of your very own? I have one here with your name on it... send me an email with a safe mailing address and off it'll go!


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