Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Halloweeeeeennnnn!

Boo, Peeps! This is an actual photo of my current actual studio mascot Spider hungrily about to feed on one of his actual fly victims on Halloweeeeennnn! (nothing in this photo has been staged.)

I'm about to head to the couch for my annual geek fest extravaganza of a screening of Nightmare Before Christmas (yay) and some high quality chocolate (yay)

I put up the tracing paper ghosts around the house the other day and for the first time Paul really liked 'em. Normally he rolls his eyes at my holiday decorations and humors me but this year the wrinkled sheer ghosties flying around the living room were particularly spooktacular.

Enjoy your night, tomorrow is chomping at the bit for an FULL DAY Halfland frenzy! Mmmmmwaaahhaaaaaaaa-a.

@••@
`(W)^

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2 Sconces and a Mirror Walk into a Bar

I took a clear plastic food tray scratched up the back and silver leafed it. Then I scraped and sanded through some of the leaf only to then paint over it with black gesso. The result when viewed through the clear front looks like scale antique looking glass. I cut up the plastic and pieced it back together, on top of a heavy aluminium pie tin oval, as a mirror sconce mosaic to amplify the light of Rana's beeswax candles.

The sconces were made out of iron wire, grommets, washers, wooden beads, and more shapes cut from rollededge of the pie tin. You can see the second sconce with a yellow candle on the far back wall of the kitchen (above).

While I had the mirror out, I thought I'd whip together (HA! nothing is ZEDEVER "whipped" together.) the little wooden hand mirror prop that the Birds in Hats characters will quarrel over. I sliced out a shape from 1/8" wood veneer. It was shaped sanded and painted (upper right) but I didn't like how the cabochon setting I was using for the mirror frame needed to be surrounded with more wood.

I built up a shape on top of the base out of a bead of hot glue and 3D paste. It was finished when dry and drilled to hang on a cord by the handle. What's cool about the silver leaf mirror is that it reflects things when they are close but the fall off is fast. This means that a camera directly opposite it can't be seen but brightly colored things like parrots, upper right, (or booze bottles, Mike!) can!

In my search to find my method for shooting Halfland with a vintage lens distortion and patina, I was tempted by the world of Lomography. They sell a TunnelVision macro lens wih the right spyglass look for $75 clams. ok. but what was truly cool is that rooting around the sites there gave me some insight and courage to experiment with optics of all kinds. I grabbed the plastic 35mm film camera I bought in the summer at the 99¢ store for, you guessed it, 99¢! broke it apart (not easy--good job, China!) stole the lens, backed it with foam and gaffer taped it to my silver box. Above* are the results! Uber macro detail (*these are low low res versions, the 7 mb files look amazing.) The items shown are less than 1" tall!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shot in the Dark


Halfland Video Storyboard Test Clip from herself on Vimeo.Made tiny as a test; tweaked in iMovie... Hmmm, this could be good!
I took my silver box and shot a quickie improvisation of the opening Halfland reveal sequence--in the dark--just to see if it would work. I think this method could be a good way for me to block out the action, puppet/prop placement, and camera moves for the whole film.

Even just making this last night showed me I'm either going to need to hunt down an old dental x-ray arm to mount the camera to or build out of hardware something that moves up and down and swings wildly. Looks like hand held wobble will be my film "style".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making Christmas

I tease you with an indecipherable close up of the 2007 makings.

Yep, it's that time of year here in the Halfland Werk-Shoppe. The official 2007 Handmade Holiday card production is underway. (Reader/friend Ben reminded me I'd forgotten to add this note to my project list.) It turned out that I spent practically the entire day just ordering the supplies for this year's creation! Right now I'm sketching step-by-step plans for how what I ordered will be used to make what I hope will be a delightful addition to all of your homes and hearts.

If you'd like to be included on our card list, you as a reader/friend of Halfland are invited to drop me an email at nobledesign[at]sbcglobal[dot]net with the word "card" in the title and an address to send it to and I'll make sure a card gets made just for you.

(Last year's card slideshow.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Irons in the Fire + Artist Alert: Rachael DiRenna

I beyond adore these Tree Spirit Figurative paper mache sculptures by artist, Rachael DiRennaFound, I just remembered to add, via the darling Rose Red over at Folk and Fairy filled with all the positive beautiful places, people, and fairy folk things that she takes delight in finding in her travels, real and imaginary. Bookmarked!

She's completely captured the delicate anthropomorphized quality I often see in nature. They are fairies. They are plants. They are beautiful. They are just the right amount of almost too subtle and they'll be missed, just like in real nature. I don't mean to imply that I literally "see" fairie folk--but if I believed they actually existed then Rachael's art precisely represents what I sense they look like. I also love how she's using materials that would be wasted otherwise, which is philosophically integrated to her subject. That's so, not just because it's faddishly "green" to use recycled or reclaimed material but because using what is available around you is specifically related to an embodiment of nature such as this.

I will look forward to being one of her proud art patrons in the future, buying up these sculptures (at $195 or so). Until then, I'll satisfy myself with buying cards and prints of them (at very reasonable $8 -10 prices) from her Etsy shop.

Halfland Progress update: Woo. So much has gone on. I'm doing more than ever and so into 1/2L it now clinically qualifies as a full-blown obsession.

Stopped into F&S fabric shop on Pico yesterday and met a wonderful man, Chuck Marso who seemed to really get 1/2L. So much so that he dove into the rooms full of veiling and cut me swatches of very expensive fabrics that may double as lacy spider-webbing. When I asked him about scraps of leather he gave me a great worn leather handbag that I can cut up for Yanu's gear that was going to be thrown out. I gave him a button with this address so he could follow along. I bought a length of fine twig/vine decoration that will make the most deliciously perfect fencing and archway for the Writing Mouse's chalet!

F&S had vintage hats for sale with the most wispy marvelously web like patterned veils. They even sold some vintage veiling, but nothing with the right color or pattern. My new friend Chuck suggested a millinery downtown (California Millinery Supply Company, 721 S Spring St., Los Angeles, CA (213) 622-8746) I look forward to going. Later that day I was volunteering in a kitchen and had to put a hair net on my head. When I took it off I noticed that a common hairnet has exactly the wispy fineness of vintage millinery veiling! I will buy some in gray to use as cottage webs. Their only drawback is the square hole pattern, otherwise perfect. I have the crystal beads for the dewdrops on the webs already. And of course, Time Flies will fall victim to these beauties.

Next post will feature some further action development for the Yanu/mothman character. Think lanterns!

Irons in the Fire (A never before mentioned list of some (some secret) things that have been happening here in addition to Halfland work):
• Izzy to doctors this morning for yet another steroid shot as she's returned to being a bloody raging mess. Disturbing.
• After many hours of logistics and project management, Paul's (and J-R's) new book is at printers on schedule.
• We need to hire a graphic designer to produce fun new print materials with me. Know of anyone that would be right? Please email nobledesign[at]sbcglobal[dot]net.
• I start teaching ballet once a week next week to both an after-school group and a private tutee. (And I'm up to 5 classes/week as a student myself.) Crazy, I know, but it's so enjoyable!
• I have been teaching a private client of Paul's over the last month or so how to be more of the artist she wants to be, coaching her to break the "rules" and demonstrating new techniques and materials to expand her range.
• Hila and I will embark on designing/creating an exciting new product line for children together in January. Emailing ideas and excitement currently.
• My step-father and I are collaborating on developing a creative product I saw him invent when I was a teenager. I always told him he should go further with it. And now that I can design and market, we are doing that together. Isn't that wild?!
• I started making hand-made woolen cat toys to give as gifts. That I'm actually ridiculously thinking of putting up on an Etsy shop of my own on a lark. They're fun and easy to make in idle minutes and any monies would go into buying Halfland equipment.
• Same for the Time Fly puppets, which I'll be making prototypes for shortly and posting.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stones Coming Conscious

Even the rocks are alive in Halfland.

I went looking for the Time Flies making stash and was delighted to find EVERYTHING I'll need to make killer good fly puppets already in the bag. Literally. Every aspect of 1/2L. has a labeled brown grocery bag and all the bags are each living in their own cubby hole.

Inside the Fly bag I found a little cellophane sack labeled, "Stones Coming Conscious". It held a dozen sculpted, flesh-colored clay "stones" that look as though they have human forms somewhat emerging from their rock shape, heads, shoulders, arms, spines, knees, bodies curled and crouched. I must have made these in the early oaughts.

I love the suface texture with its cracks and lichen, um, I'm lichen' the moss?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Meet the Time Frog ::UPDATE::

A new iteration of the Time Frog's character sketch. This one with the clock face set into the iris of the eye which I think gives a more probable look, if something completely non-plausible could look more plausible. He has a froggy ear now (who knew?) And I'm playing with his texture and color.

Nick H and Mike's naming of the Time Frog's live-in-mouth critters, Musca Tempora (Time Flies) is so brilliant I can't even stand it. That is a classic Halfland play on concept and words--and YOU are coming up with them now! Holy cow.

I had a super wild thought this morning. What if I had fun making little 50 Time Flies like I have in mind, packaged them up cleverly as real-esque scientific insect specimen as I have in mind. Then all the readers and friends of this blog who have contributed notions that have been incorporated into it can receive one as a gift. Anyone else could also have one of their own by purchasing it from a proposed Halfland Etsy.com shop (secure, handmade craft online store) for $25 to contribute to a Halfland camera and lights fund. Not only would they receive an original piece of tiny Halfland puppetry as memorabilia but actually support the film's making. What would you think of that? Good? Bad? Do it? Don't? eh? I'm ambivalent. I want to make 50 flies and sell 'em for fun more than money but I don't want to take away (ironically) my time from building the set to do so.

______ previous post ______

I realized today that I get to build my little fly almost-puppet after all. He'll escape out of the Time Frog's mouth, just as for me irritation sometimes accompanies Time. The offer still stands for any reader of this blog to suggest a suitable name for this character. If a submitted name is selected for use, there will be Halfland prizes awarded.

My first time working on a Desktop Publishing computer, circa 1993, during the giant graphics revolution. I was working in a New York publishing house on an early Mac on a large res file of a frog that was overloading the slight RAM typical of those bygone days. The "processing" icon was a little clock with its hands whirling around telling me it was chewing on the file. The cursor happened to be placed directly on top of the frog's left eye, making it look as though one of his eyes was a clock.

Hmmm.

I had been devising Halfland in my mind for a while at that point and in the fertile, moist soil of that creative endeavor the seed had been planted for a vignette.

As we pass by the island landscape in the film, Halfland's Time Frog sits nearly submerged in the fresh water stream that runs down the hill from Rana's cottage. He's a normal Halfland frog except for the fact that his left eye is a vintage clock face, complete with the tiniest hand carved hands (these I have already procured from an antique pocket watch). He is the origin of what we know as time. It all starts with him.

Time is not my favorite thing to deal with. It flies by like a freight train and frequently pushes against my druthers. I want more of it. I want enough of it. And when I have to conform my activities to it I can get pretty bent out of shape. I can find relating to it irritating. I also find flies irritating. The incessant buzzing for no reason, the relentless inexplicable dive bombing at the most vexing of times.

Broke out the visual reference material today. Man, are these envelopes filled with collected treasure of ideas and images. Invaluable. I painted the character sculpt with a practice base coat so I could use him as a stand in as I begin to build his set piece. Tomorrow I'll mock up the cardboard and maybe get a little papier mache ou-hon.

I also painted the legs of the kitchen table and added a drawer front. Tested the new balcony by painting it black with black gesso. Loving it now. That'll work.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Railing in the Night

I'm challenged by creating the little balcony railing and wrought iron pot holders for the Maus Haus chalet. I've made a few attempts, one failure shown on left. I'm currently making an even smaller design, on right, that will be finished to a rusted iron black.I've built dams for concrete to perma fix two roof beams on Rana's cottage. A few weeks ago, I tried to cement them in position but found/learned that even anchor cement doesn't stick at all. Good for pouring into the ground to secure posts, but has no ability to stick one thing to another. Who knew.

Featured Cool Find
Fantastic writer/artist/blogger, Alicia Paulson mentioned a book series by Jill Barklem called Brambly Hedge (teaser clips downloadable there) which I'd never heard of before. Turns out to have been made into a truly inspirational stop motion animation series by some of the best people. They took Jill's charming English countryside characters and created three-D puppets and set them in pop-up illustration-like backgrounds.
Project Pedigree: HIT Entertainment, a company that develops animated film versions of established children's classics approached the book series' publisher, HarperCollins. They hired the highly successful animation production company, Cosgrove Hall Films. They in turn hired Bridget Appleby, for its production design and artistic direction, the models and props were made by the great Mackinnon & Saunders.

Tomorrow's Plan: I'm going into the The Time Frogs setting tomorrow. Starting to construct his sunny stream side lair out of cardboard and masking tape.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I Stopped at 1,000


I unfortunately found this new fantastic feature at Blogger. It's a live feed of public images as they are posted to Blogger blogs from around the globe. I'm often moved to tears by pageants of humanity's experience like this. All of it, the tender and the grotesque, at some point of objectivity, it all melds into a single joyous weeping.

I watched for a moment or two, marveling at people's compelling random travel pictures of places I will never see in person, blurry snapshots of beloved babies, bowls of food full, and then down the line empty, gorgeous examples of really good art/photography, and sadly proud photos of really bad crafts, all of it strung like beads on digital thread. Each image important to somebody, even if it is just the old exercise bike they're are hoping to sell.

What I didn't expect was how valuable the stream of collective images turned out to be for Halfland! I had to stop the flow several times, click back and retrieve a useful image to add to the 1/2L. visual reference collection. Nice to have them. It occurs to me, and why I'm mentioning it here, is that a shared pool of images, relevant to us communally as humans, that we would have never had reason to search out or chance on otherwise, can be a momentous resource for visual projects such as this.

I'll visit it again, but limit each session to no more than 1,000* for my real life's sake! I'm going to call this technique Image Combing. *I can set the speed of the playback to pretty fast and whip through a combing session in a about 10 minutes.

If you try it I hope you'll let us know how it works for you: Blogger Play

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Break In

Mr. Thumbson busted into the Maus House Stalaag 13 style. He tunneled in! A benefit of building a set out of cardboard and newspaper balls under papier mache is that I can cut into it from underneath. I gutted the underside like a pinata in order to arrange a strand of miniature lights inside. These are a bit faint, nice for lantern glow but I may need a bit stronger light to show up on camera.

Today I finished the wooden door, don't laugh but the key hole works and the knob turns. The Maus has a good stack of fire wood sheltered from the weather. The corbels were finished and installed. I started to build the base for the balcony and attached (with great difficulty) the storm shutters. I need them to open and close but there's no way to drill into the stones where the hinges need to attach. Right now it on with glued fabric that I plan to cover with another square of copper. I pickled the exterior with special white stain because it was bothering me that a lot of the detail was blending into the tree too much. Might knock the white down a bit more with ink.

Monday, October 01, 2007

HAAAARDWAAARE!

It's almost as if you're here now with my new spiffy Halfland Documenatrious Digicam. Welcome! Notice the soot build up on the tree above the chimney?
Here we go with a tiny cottage building catch up. Below on left are the clear contact paper stencils used to create a folksy Alpine pattern on the wood slats. The first attempt failed because I used red acrylic paint touched up with a white paint pen. It looked sloppy and all wrong. I painted it out with a fresh layer of cream paint and instead rubbed on the design with red oil pastel through the stencil with the pad of a finger. When the stencil was peeled back there was a far crisper pattern and looked just the right amount of a worn inlay. I applied several coats of clear flat wax aged with walnut ink after that to fix the pastel for a woodsy flat finish.

The new camera has a decent macro mode that was able to capture the smallest detail on the door plate and storm shutter latch hardware. Check out that keyhole! The door plate is pounded copper with jewelry finding nailheads. The keyhole is a smashed, pierced, and shaped gold micro eyelet, the size of a sesame seed. The apple seed-sized glass doorknob was made out of a copper tack topped with a drop of diamond glaze surrounded by a circle of hole-less clear micro beads. The iron latch actually works on the inside of the storm shutters but they'll be shown opened out at some point in the film, when the Maus retrieves a bottle of ink from his soon-to-be iron balcony. On the right are the shutters closed up tight.

Below is the tiny Tudor window with its raised painted net leading. Three terra cotta pots in wrought iron holders will finish off that window. For scale, the top beam is actually a bamboo chopstick. On the left, I'm showing where the corbel will go when they are defined further and stained.
In addition to finishing the wooden door, the balcony filled with ink bottles and quills, and pot hangers, still to do to complete this time consuming sucker is to chop a supply of tiny fire logs and stack them under the long eave on the right side of the house, finish the trail and garden, including a tiny twig archway and fence. That should be it.

Gear Details:
Camera specs: I went to Bel Air Camera in Westwood because they were supposed to have expert staff and an up to date selection, which they did. I wasn't there to tax them yesterday however as I was out for the least expensive small silver box I could find. I'm happy to have paid $159 for a Nikon Coolpix L12 7.1 megapixel. It's super easy to use coming from the 950 and has new features that are a vast improvement over my beloved broken friend. Some things are still crazy like the unbelievably flimsy silver-colored plastic battery compartment cover that seems to ache to break with the lightest touch. I give that thing two weeks before I'm back to keeping the latch closed with a rubber band. However, for the purposes of recording and sharing the progress here as well as serving to capture images for personal art this new little friend is wildly fun. (It'll even take a burst of video.) The still image files are much larger and sharper than before but I'm still converting copies of them to gifs for use on the web, reducing the file size to about 200k each, as per usual. Click to enlarge them as always. Do they look ok or better at all?

Hold Still: I also grabbed a smallJoby Gorillapod flexible tripod for $21.95 as I've been lusting after one for a couple years. It's so much easier to get the shot! I can wrap the legs around a tree branch for a bird's eye view! It's rubber-tipped Lockline plastic 360ยบ ball joint essentially, except it holds its position much better. I'm going to try to animate it to see if it's worth getting more to use as puppet armature.
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