Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gaining Ground

WITH GRAPHIC JOBS DONE and a few days before a book project comes in, I got to spend Monday through Thursday this week in Halfland and it was pure heaven for me. It was a lot of creative problem solving and quality brut strength to move things forward. Among other things, I finished constructing the pathway from the cottage to the stream with 2-3 layers of making tape/newspaper/paper mache and my versatile formula of cellulose/mulch/vermiculite. Mini logs will be placed behind each pair of twig braces.

Over the course of the four days, whenever I sat inside the cottage I'd space out. I'd snap out of it after a while. It must be because it puts me nearly in Halfland (a very nice place) as though I'm living there. I'd always come back with lots of ideas for realistic, lived-in touches.

I got some fantastic prop work done while waiting for the layers of the pathway to dry. Here are the finished candle sconces started last year. There can never be enough texture in Halfland. The more texture on things the better I find. My newest favorite is IRON FILINGS base paint, dusted with BLACK SAND and the rusted out with antiquing solution. Zow!

Each sconce, while part of a pair, are slightly different; the shape of the dangling crystal, the type of ornament, etc. They have small spider webs on them as a foreshadowing of the larger more elaborately lace webs that will appear on the porch. The crystal theme is carried into the webs where they act as dew drops. I used what's called a "big eye" needle to thread the beads onto the long polyester web fibers. It's split down the middle to make things that can't be threaded easily be put through for sewing.

How I made these pillar candles was a total surprise to me. I had no idea they would glow on the inside as if real! Holy cow. The bases were made early on the project, while I still lived in New York. Made from odd bit of metals found at the super source, Space Surplus Metals on Canal Street. Go there. It's filled with things nobody but us wants and can give great ideas for making props out of the world's flotsam.

The candles were made out of a slice of pvc pipe covered at one end with an eyelet, painted white and then papered over with a transparent glassine disk on top. Inside was fitted with little battery powered LED light that are made to be put inside party balloons. I melted a small batch of rose colored beeswax in a double boiler and dipped and dribbled the faux pillars until they looked right. The wicks are snips of black wire. The candles remain removable in order to turn the eight hour light on and off. When the light is on the candle looks illuminated and also casts a practical light on whatever it's next to on the set.

I hung Downstairs Clare's wonderful cottage door on the set. Halfland friend and downstairs neighbor, Clare has been in a medical care facility since September, everyone. Prayers and good thoughts for him and The Jean That Goes With Clare, his loving wife, would be much appreciated I sure. He wasn't doing all that well for a long while and seemed to me to be gathering himself deeper inside himself further each week.

He was a professional set builder for decades in LA for the prestigious Music Center as well as a multi-talented multi-medium fine artist so, I always thought he'd *want* to come up here and help me build the set. But he never offered or asked to even though I kept dropping larger and larger hints. Finally, I asked him directly to please build me the door for the cottage. I was thrilled he said yes, and he went to great trouble to craft the door exactly as I had asked. He got as far as the perfect wood slat construction and iron nail heads. Thank you, Dear Clare.

I picked up the door from Jean when I was ready for it. I made a fun Doorplate for it with iron paint and rust solution on a carved wood piece and various metal stampings. It includes a keyhole made from an oval charm bracelet frame and hand-tooled copper.

I have no idea on earth how I knew how to cut leather strips from an old leather handbag into working twig hinges!? Where did this know-how come from, I've never seen leather hinges like that. Hmm. Past life recall? I'll show the whole door when it's all finished. In the photo above one can peer into the cottage and ooogle over the layers of fitted cardboard sub-flooring that evens out the set's platform bases and will have mini wood plank flooring with copper nail heads, hopefully right-soon.

Lastly today, I wanted to announce that reader Marcie of The Rustic Victorian in Alabama sent me two big boxes filled with wonderful things she's collected in an around her exotic Southern environment. I had admired the insect wings and puffy seed pods she featured on her blog and she up and mailed them to me! I spoke with her by phone and she mentioned several other things she had but wasn't in need of that I would dearly love to use for the set. It's as though she had been collecting things for this project for years without knowing it. I dubbed Marcie the "Halfland Official Naturalist" (HON for short) Above is just a sampling of things that she sent that will be used in the film. Thank you, Marcie HON.

Love in a Puffs as lanterns in the tree, real cotton still in their pods (!) that will be next to Rana's loom on her porch, tiny myrtle pods that will be strewn for ground debris and used as beads in Rana's necklaces, real birch bark from Washington State that is paper thin and will be rolled into scrolls for the Writing Mouse's work area. I've decided the 'writing' in Halfland will all be, what is in our world, natural markings. I do this so the viewer will imagine their worlds is filled with communications from nature, hoping they might look more closely.

She also sent boxes full of antique watch parts perfect for constructing the Time Flies.

There's a month's worth more to say, but for right now that'll do. Thank you so much for following the project. It's an unbelievable support.


  1. Anonymous1:48 AM

    your halfland world is so beautiful and so rich of love and details! It's good to see you doing this this while the rest of the world is getting cooler and cleaner and more emotionless. You wrote about textures and I totally apprechiate this: textures are so important, they want us to touch the things... And if we have already touched such a material before, we could easily understand how your world must feel under out fingers... And by this, we'll becoming part of it. Great, is't it?

  2. I love to see how such creations materialize~Your work is stunning.
    (I didnt know they made "instant rust" spray paint.)
    I always enjoy reading your's like entering into another world.

  3. Bellisimo! Molto bello!
    Tres Belle!!
    Muy Hermoso!!!

    You're going to love filming those little candles, I absolutely adore practical lighting on the pic of you sitting in Halfland...excellent work all around!

  4. Beautiful work. I love reading your blog. The gifts that you were given are so cool. Treasures abound and so is the amazing work you do.

  5. I love that comment, Jessica. Your observation about the tactile/sensory connection of a film to the audience.I hadn't even considered that and think it's an extremely important point. Thank you.

    Sophia Rose, I love the things I found on your site, especially the wonderful quotes on the side bar. You really understand living life to the fullest. I appreciate many of the same things as you. Thanks you for the compliments.

    By the way, the rust solution I prefer isn't a spray (although there are those) I love a chemical reaction liquid that literally rusts iron in real life. It happens as soon as the liquid dry over the iron paint you put on first. Here's link to the brand available at most craft stores (, in case you'd ever like to rust something. I have used it to make vintage-looking art works as well.

    Thanks, Jeffery, Babe! You know the LED lights inside the candles not only illuminate the candle with a glow but also throw off a rad bright light onto the set straight through the top, just a s real candle would do! Too cool for words.

    Thank you so much, Rich! If you ever need any vintage watch faces, etc. Marcie gave more than I could ever use, let me know and I'll share the wealth!

  6. 4 days in Halfland....awesome!

    lots of progress...



  7. I don't know where to start,,I am shakin my head in wonder of the progress on the set. Such a magical place. I like the shot of you setting "In It" I know that spacyness,,its the genius working...opening up...gosh,, the lighting is wonderful,,the sconces turned out great,,so old looking, and the candels,,the light will be magical..and the door! so wonderful!
    Such a Creation, I am so glad to be even a small part of it. Thanks
    Shelly! I have more myrtle pods when you are ready for landscaping, or when I have other things to send.
    I am looking forward to seeing more pictures as you progress.
    Take care Shelley!

  8. Wow great to see the steady progress, the candles are Ab-Fab!

    The door turned out great, sorry to hear about Clare's health. I was really looking forward to the progress shots of his giant stretched canvas. Best wishes for his recovery.

  9. Thank you, Marcie HON.

    Hey, Mark, thanks for the well wishes for Downstairs Clare. The fabulous giant canvas sits unfinished I'm afraid. Clare won't likely be recovering per se.

    They call it "Sun-downing". He's still alive but no longer here, unable to move or carry on a conversation, Jean tells me.

    He has made a lot of incredible art in his life and reminds us all to make ours while it's possible I think.

  10. Justin, I forgot to say that your note really brought a smile to my face yesterday and made me get to work on the set! Thank you.

  11. That candlelight sounds scrumptious, can't wait to see it in action...out of all of my shorts, my favorite scene to film was the alley in Unearthed, I loved my little practical lights there, especially the streetlamp...I'm toying with giving Herbie a lantern for a coming segment :)

  12. I still can't get my head around this amazing world you are creating. It's as if I am watching a dream. You're just so freaking incredible...

  13. Such truly beautiful tiny things!

  14. Thank you, Allison and Ceri. You being here inspires me to work more. That's exactly what I was hoping would happen from having a project blog like this. And thanks to fantastic talents like you, it does.

  15. Gosh, that candle (only in life size) is exactly what I need for the film I'm Producing. I was just talking about it with the Production Designer yesterday. Don't want to come here and do props fabrication for us do you? I can't pay you anything, but at least the conditions are terrible! :)

    Great to see such inspirational stuff happening in HalfLand.

  16. I have been away for a while and visited your blog last night. Vaowwww... great progress. Again I love all the little, small, big things you do there. The picture of you over the set is very nice!!! Take care...

  17. Ha, thanks, Rich, I know you're deep into your latest project. Enjoy every minute. Loads of talent Down Under.

  18. Amazing stuff!
    Isn't it fun to get lost in a set? I still haven't made the barrels yet, been too preoccupied with thinking up ways to animated Jed's mouth in after effects so I can think about that in relation to his movements and blocking once I get going on that side of it. So many things to think about, but oh so much fun.
    I love your attention to detail.

  19. Thanks, DJ! After Effects, eh? I hope you'll share your thinking. I'm hoping to learn the program for this.


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