Thursday, May 14, 2009

An Inside Joke

Made a surprise pepper mill for Rana's kitchen out of a wooden cat toy, wooden disks, and various metal bits and beads. Held the odd bits together with a clothespin while I brushed in glue to hold it together. The mill's body finish is a dusty porcelain crackle with a brass top. Rana also got a sealed gift bottle of saffron petals courtesy of an old miniature Tabasco bottle, adding to the others collected.

Taking a cue from readers Brian and Rane in the comments earlier, I stained the cottage floor with nothing but pure coconut oil. It worked like a dream and still looks rich after it's dried. Thank you, guys!

Friend of reader Peggy Fussell, Sharon Ferg, has made something beautiful for Halfland. She crafts wonderful woodland things out of acorns and raw wood. I couldn't resist buying one of her spectacular miniature tea sets. I knew it couldn't be made large scale enough for Rana, but if she made it small enough, it would be ideal for the Writing Mouse. The excellent photo of it above was taken by Sharon before she sent it but it looks even more magical in person. Sharon so generously also sent along a bonus of mini knitting needles (including tiny a knit underway) and a proper pipe.

The Mouse puppet above is the small version of the character. He'll be made larger for Film 2 and should be able to use it then. You are extraordinary, Sharon, thank you for sharing your talents in this film.

The explanation: I'll say this quickly: When I was a child, my mother would often show me a newspaper clipping she carried in her wallet of what I remember was a photographic version of Magritte's famous L'Explication of a blended carrot and glass bottle. I can see the clipping crystalline clear in my mind. It was well done, many years before computers, and had a perfect representation of a 3D carrot-bottle made in a darkroom. My mother was fascinated with the image and her enthusiasm for it affected me. She would repeat, "See, Shelley. it's a bottle [pointing to the bottle] and a carrot [pointing to the carrot], and then say, a carr-bottle! [pointing to the blend with a big smile]. It's one of the few moments I recall her ever talking to me.

I guess this won't be quick. A while back while I was making props for Halfland, I thought about Magritte's painting, and the photo version from the 60's from the wallet, and Half-Land now. I thought about pictorial metaphor, synthesis, hybrids, double image puns, unifying objects of different domains, surrealistic works, etc. Maybe my entire interest in half-animal/half-human creatures originated with the moments I spent closely studying that image in my mother's wallet. I thought for a private joke to myself I'd include a carr-bottle growing in the set's garden, as a progression of the figurative idiom.

I made a replica of the blended bottle out a dark glass bottle I had here. I bought the more wine shaped ones to make additional configurations; maybe split down the center, etc. But the scale of it didn't work for either the bottle or the carrot. So I made a carrot growing inside a bottle. It was fun making the carrot out of cut foam so it would stuff inside the bottle's narrow neck (I had experience from xmas gift 2007!) I don't know if it's successful, but it is a nod to the concept and truly an inside joke.


  1. Tiny knitting! So cool.
    Your mother rarely spoke to you? That breaks my heart.

  2. Haha I like your version of the carr-bottle. The little tea set and everything is just very cute :)The pepper mill looks good!

    All the best,

  3. love how the coconut oil worked. looks fantastic. I almost want to do my own wood flors that way. I bet the house would smell really nice too.

    When did shelley have time to whip up such cool and well crafted props? She is an enigma.

    The carrot in the bottle is cool. It's safer in the bottle and it will last longer. Special memories need that protection maybe.

  4. Hi Elva, yeah, it was the early sixties, my mother was young, and not the type of woman to be a nurturing mother. I spent my childhood utterly alone, making small worlds on the floor, just like today. Only now I am not alone.

    Thanks, Allison!

    Rich, how sweet are you!? Special memories protected, what a sensitive thought, thank you!

    Man, the visitors here are extraordinary people!

    Oh, PS: I wrote my mother to see whether she might still have that clipping. She didn't unfortunately and she didn't remember it being any different than Magrittes.

    I sure remember it though. It's burned into my mind's eye from looking at it with my full attention, which is powerful.

    I spent a long time trying to track down the image I remember online too but completely failed. If that photographic homage to Magritte's work exists online, I could not find it!

  5. (^ shell, yer killin' me.
    (^ sobe bottle. imbedded in the ground as a glass circular "brick.
    (^ .. with carrot seeds planted below.

    9^ not kidding.
    I really should go out in my back yard and take some photos.
    here's thehoped for result: the carrot will grow within the small neck of the bottle:
    with the leafy green part growing inside.
    and the carrot poking out the inverted bottleneck.
    like a glass handled vegetable.

    I've a few experiments ranging from radishes to potatoes and leeks ( onions like chives but as big as carrots)
    I'll try to get around to actually taking some pictures.

  6. Brian! ARE YOU JOKING!? That's OUTRAGEOUS! You've been growing carrots inside glass bottles!?

    What are the chances of you doing that?! And me doing that in Halfland!? That's got to be one of the wildest co-incidences on record!

    Especially since I arrived at doing it in such a random way!?


    I love your idea of it, with the greenery growing in the glass. I'd love to see photos if you get a chance!

  7. Shelly~

    I am glad that you found a
    oil that agreed so well with
    your floor. It seams to have
    took the best out of the wood
    and displayed it so perfectly!
    I am glad that you are so open
    eared. My father once said that
    a human can only grow if they
    have big ears... even grown ups.
    I did not understand it until I
    was in college...fully.
    We as humans grow .. but if we
    stop and listen to those around
    us we grow amazingly.

    You my friend are an amazing
    artist... no doubt it is in
    some small way because your
    ears are wide open... not just
    showing us what you are doing
    and talking about yourself but
    hearing what others say and feel..
    ideas and thoughts. That I think
    is what makes a wonderful artist.
    Because we have our own ideas....
    but to reach a wider range of
    viewers seeing how your viewers
    see you don't miss out.

    ........I will get off my soap
    box now.....

    Love your pepper mill and your
    saffron bottle...
    I love your carrot bottle too.
    The mouse goods...tea set and
    such are amazing! I can see
    love and talent in these pieces.

    I have been thinking that your
    Rana is a home body in her age....
    but was she a gypsy when she was
    young? With her color choices and
    the personallity of her home... I
    think she was. I as a viewer would
    love to see a tribute to that if
    it really is the case... maybe a
    tambourine ..scarves or such... hum... I bet when she was young
    she was even lovelier... if all
    goes well in the future... and
    you do a second movie a flash
    back to her youth and younger self
    would be oh so fun.

    Can't wait to see what else you
    do next, setting on the edge of
    my seat.


  8. Rane! I love your Rana backstory ideas! You're right--I bet Rana did travel more when she was younger, fantastic visuals of that come to mind.

    Thank you for contributing to the film this way, thinking about it and sharing your excellent thoughts.

    A glimpse of a younger Rana in future Halfland films is a stupendously wondrous idea! Consider it done! [God willing!]

    These big ears are pointed your way. Hey--did you know the Answer Tree has a giant ear in it?!



  9. Chooooo Chooooo!!!! Chuga chuga chuga chuga......

    Chooooo Chooooo!!!!


  10. woo woo... chug-a chug-a

    xox :)

  11. Anonymous8:52 AM

    That tea set is magic!

    I love, love the story of the carr-bottle. It is so intriguing to think about how the seemly small moments in a life can have such a large impact. One of the many things I love about Halfland is your attention to the intimate details, the roots, the bottles, all of it.

    And what a marvelous coincidence that your friend is growing carrots in a bottle!

  12. Thank you so much, Peggy. You hooked Sharon and I together. I know! Isn't weird how coincidences run through life?

  13. Your acorn teaset is truly delightful! But its that inside/outside carrot that has me really smiling! How wonderful to add little jokes that have so much meaning to you but may be a mystery to everyone else, this is what makes your work so special!

  14. I have been thinking of you lately, and just knew you had some dreamy magic to share. I am finally catching up on blog reading as I have been away,,to Flordia for one place...the only thing I brought home is some spanish moss, shells, white sand,acorns,but nothing I can see in Halfland, nothing terribly interesting anyhow. All the wonders you have shown this month,,,well,,,I could write a novel,,such magic Shelley! I think I will send the pods soon as they are in the hall waiting,,,for what I don't know,,oh yes I do,,for more to add to the package.
    Thinking of you my friend.
    Marcie HON

  15. I have just had a chance to read your last post. Vaowww.. your memory with your mother... Maybe she had that picture in her wallet for you to make Halfland. I believe that we have many signs on our way as we walk on our life path. And only few people like you are brave enough to follow those signs to live what they came to the earth for. Anyways.. I might sound strange :) But this is what I believe and wanted to write you when I read your post.
    I love Rana's pepper mill. Will she actually use that on the film?

  16. Thank you, Ulla!! So nice to have a visit from you!

    Hi Marci, HON. So nice to have you thinking about the flora for Halfland when you travel to special places! Thank you.

    Thank you, Yaz-Yazzy, The pepper mill was just for a prop on a kitchen shelf but mayb eI should have her use it while heating the soup in the evening! What a great bit of business for that moment in the film. Thanks, YAZ!

    I didn't even know why I was making a pepper mill until you suggested this. Which, if you think about it, also makes your other point about the importance of intuition/fate in these things!

  17. I'm back to see what your up to, and discovered the video,,Noteboek by Elelien kewl is that!!!

  18. Wow, that is one cool carrot-bottle.

    Shelley how come your list of things to do is growing! This is going to be one complex and incredible set!!!

    I love your new beading techniques below, too! That necklace looks like a sea creature in itself :)

  19. Very kewl, Marci. Very clever of her I think.

    Hi Stephanie, yes, the list of what to do grew, not because I added anything--but because I simply wrote out what was in my head that needs doing!!!

    Yes, it will be a fully realized world that can be shot from any angle, hopefully over and over for various Halfland film vignettes.

    I'll be able to tell many stories with it, once it's built!

    Thanks on the necklace. I really love that one. I want to make more, with different types of beads! I'm a bead nut. Can't get enough.

  20. Hii Shelley

    I love the carr-bottle! I also love Sharon's beautiful little acorn tea set and knitting! Sweet!

    And I have finally got around to making a post update of the log cabin set, though it's not completely finished yet, still, I've been meaning to get something up on the blog for days, weeks even!!

    I am still trying to locate those little pulleys! I know they are here somewhere, in one of my many little boxes of bits and bobs, but alas, they are still eluding me! I WILL FIND THEM! (hope you're not in a huge hurry?)

    Lastly, I would love to come see Halfland in person when in LA! YES!! YES!! PLEASE!!! I'm just now trying to figure out when I'm going, but end of this month/early July is most likely.

    DJ (under Jed's username)

  21. yay! email me at the addy in the profile for the super secret real world location (kept private for safety reasons).

    I can give you your cool robin's egg bead bracelet in person then! cool!


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