Friday, April 17, 2009


I was loopy from cramp medicine but felt enough energy to see if my idea for the cottage hardwood flooring would work. Clockwise from bottom left, I laid out a mixture of hardwood slats on top of a newspaper template I had shaped to fit the cottage floor area. I then made cuts at various intervals in nearly each slat to mimic how hardwood flooring starts and stops vs. using only long pieces and secured the whole side with masking tape. (It used up all my energy that day) I then slathered on nearly a whole bottle of stainable wood glue on the reverse side and pressed the paper template down on it with cinder block weights to flatten. When all dry the next day, I began to slice off the excess slat ends with a dowel pull saw, trimming the floor to the exact shape of the paper template. When all done the hardwood floor should drop down easily in one piece into the waiting cottage. Then little nails will finish off the miniature illusion.

I felt the need to make Rana a larger soup kettle than the one I had. She makes a lot of soup and that little thing was not going to be the right scale for her. I knew I wanted a rounded bottom so a can was out. It occurred to me that a vitamin bottle could be easily cut down and have the essentially right shape to it. (What does one do with vitamins in a bottle that has the misfortune to be the exact right size for art? Sacrificed!) I used different gauges of armature wire to shape the rim and handles. I used a small hammer to flatten the ends of the handles and drilled them to attach jewelry nailheads as fasteners. The whole composition was painted with thick iron paint for texture, then several coats of real copper paint was put on the kettle and nailheads. Chemical patina for both copper (green) and iron (rust) were applied when the finishes were dry. The bottom was blackened with gesso to suggest all the charring from use in the open hearth oven/stove.


  1. Both pieces are amazing!
    I did not know that you
    could make a pot out of
    plastic! Really really
    amazing! I can wait to see a front view of the floor!
    I am floored away everytime
    I look on this blog!

  2. Thanks, Rane, darling. You know I wouldn't really COOK in that vitamin bottle kettle, right!? Props are fun because they only have to *look* like they work! yay!

  3. At first I thought you were making the floor out of lasagna. Good thing I read!

    Seeing that vitamin bottle transform is magical.

  4. Awesome! Found Object Art!! :)

  5. Thanks, Elva and Mike!!

  6. good stuff herself!

    Im very interested in your how the floor comes out....more bigger pics please


  7. Will do, Justin. I'm slicing it out now. Bigger photos next episode.

  8. God Shelley, I just can't get over how great everything is coming out!!! All your props and set pieces.... and it seems like you just instinctively know exactly how to make them all. The attention to detail is astonishing. This is going to be an insanely good movie!!! No, not a movie, Halfland is truly a world.

  9. Know what's great, Mike? It's great having a brother-friend like you who gets Halfland better than anyone, even me. Thank you so much.

  10. If the company who made that vitamin bottle saw what you did with that, they would have started making little soup kettles immediately. Brilliant!!

    Floor.. it is just amazing.. Will you have tie down holes on this floor?

  11. Is that your kitty, Yaz? Very handsome! What's his/her name?

    You're sweet and funny about the bottle, thanks.

    Tiedowns, YES! Must have tiedowns, but there's no way I can get underneath the set floor as I had hoped. I'm thinking of finishing the ground and floor as I wish and then drill holes as each step requires but use a rig to hold the puppet weight primarily.

    I will resolve the matter creatively when at that stage. I am getting very clear now that there won't be a lot of *walking* action in the film. I may not even try for 24 or 30 frames per second in some scenes. I may instead have a mixture of frame rates that suggest the feeling of movement, like a montage with transitions in the right spots.

    Although, I do intend to have key sequences fully animated, like when Rana rushes down to the stream edge to fetch Kyra.

    I'm hoping the end result will feel as though the puppets are alive in this world without having to replicate real movement in every scene, just enough to give the essential impression.

    Thanks for asking about that.

  12. Yep, that is my kitty. She is 11 yearsold and she was born in my hands. Her name is Zeytin (means olive). She is always with me in the house.. whereever I go she follows. Now she is next to my laptop on the table. And says hi to you :)

    Tiedowns... Yes, I see. If you would not have a lot of walking around that would not be a big problem than. I really dont like this tiedown thing. Having a rig over the top could be a lot easier I think. But then there are some other problems like being have to clean each shot on the computer. I have a friend here in Turkey doing stopmotion professionally for years. He has a very detailed well-done (and ofcourse expensive) rig mechanism at the top. He still uses tiedowns but mostly uses the rig system.

    Your frame-rate idea seems great. I can imagine your film having transitions between different frame rates. This fits very well to Halfland i think.

  13. Hi Sweet, Zeytin! (I love olives)

    A couple years ago Mike (Darkstrider) was firm that tiedowns were essential and he waited while I tried some bad rig ideas and magnets. Fails.

    So I do see the importance of tiedowns. And I am aware of the endless post production erasing that rigs require. I was initially trying to avoid that. But now I'm resigned to the reality that I'll have to basically redraw each frame of Halfland, getting riding of the sky supports, etc.

    I'd be interested in seeing the type of rig your friend uses!

    Prosser threw me a link a while back to a great over head pully rig by famous animator... looking...can't find right now, will...

  14. Your momentum is dizzying. Every detail is out of this world. I love the pot.

    Spent some good time catching up on older posts and my husband wandered in and it blew his mind too. You have made some serious fans!

    Best wishes,

  15. Karima (and her husband!) I thank you so much for this, one of my favorite comments ever received! Please stay close... things should get even more interesting very soon!

    Thank you both very very much and welcome!

  16. You can probably get away without using tiedowns for walks as long as you don't show the feet in contact with the floor for those shots.

    I tried using a rig for a puppet for a jumping shot, and I figured that meant there was no need for tie-downs. Well, without my even knowing it, the puppet was sliding around slightly for each frame.

    In fact, if you make sure the camera doesn't see the feet in contact with the floor, you don't need to use a rig for those shots... you can use lumps of sticky wax or wire braces taped down around the feet.

    For shots where you DO want to see the feet on the floor while walking, you could use a rig and use pins through the feet into the flooring, just to secure the foot so it doesn't slide around.

    Whatever combination you end up using, I'm sure it'll floor us all!!

  17. Thank you, Mikeee, this could sound like sweeter music to hear than if you were Susan Boyle!

    It's a dream to hear this from you as it's what I was most hoping would be possible.

    Bottomline, I'm going to FIRMLY secure the puppets in whatever composition they are in. That much I know is imperative.

  18. Shelley,

    Unfortunately, I dont have a picture of the rig my friend uses. He planned it by himself and had the person who made my armature produced for him. I asked my friend if I can have a similar rig system and he said that I could order the same one from the armature maker. But it costs some money and I cant afford it. He lives in another city (Istanbul) If I have a chance to visit his studio next time I go to Istanbul, I will ask him if I can take pictures.

    Mike's comment is very helpful about tiedowns. I will definetely try making a rig on my own here and use pins and tiedowns where needed.

    I know castlegardener's rig tutorial. You have probably seen this page but posting incase you havent.

  19. HI Yaz, yep Mike and John's ideas are great. I still haven't found the images I grabbed of Prosser's colleague's rig. But it was basically like John's in that it ran along cables with a pulley. Interesting.

    I'd be very interested in seeing the armature maker's rig design. Definitely. Thank you.

  20. Please let me know if you find the images of Prosser's colleague's rig. We are going to Istanbul where my friend lives in a of couple weeks. I plan visiting his studio this time if I have time. I will let you know.

  21. PREPARE TO BE FLOORED! I found the rig photos! I'm so glad you had me look John Dods' rig is brilliant but so is the forest set he built shown in these! Very inspiring!

    Here's a link to his own stop motion page link on his site:

    If I hear it's ok, I will publish the diagrams he sent me of what he calls his "Ariel Brace"!

  22. GREAT NEWS!!! I hope he says OK to posting the diagrams. I checked out the URL you sent. I am very curious about the rig he built. Thanks!!!!

  23. John generously said ok! I will post these next post, likely tomorrow! Ray!

  24. Nick H10:50 PM

    Hey, I'm floored yet again by your work on the props and set!
    When I can't get under the set for tiedowns I just put a small wood screw down through the footplate from the top, and into the floor. Having hollow rubber shoes helps, because you can cut a slit in the top that lets you get the screw in and out of sight, but closes up behind it.
    Beautiful finish on the pot, love your patinas.
    And thanks for the video acknowlegement of the tuna!

  25. Nick!!!

    Let me grasp this, [reading your comment for third time] GENIUS! I get it, you go through the whole foot, removeably (not a word), so the tiedown doesn't show when the foot comes back up off the floor> Man that's is PERFECT! That's what I'll do!!!

    Holy cow--am I ever grateful you read this blog!! You're like a stop motion angel. As opposed to a stop motion angle (which is what I always type at first due to dylexia, hee)

    Thank you, Nick!

  26. That is just fabulous! perfectly patina-d ;)


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