Tuesday, January 12, 2010
100 Days of Progress:
"I'm Pretty Sure God Makes Strawberries This Way"
This has to be one of the best results I've had for Halfland to date. I love this strawberry plant. It was an unplanned improvisation entirely. It began when Cirelle wondered aloud whether the window box she was working on might have little berries growing in it. I loved her idea and set about seeing if I couldn't craft some, somehow.
I finished the entire plant and its twig trellis by last night and was excited for daylight to arrive to take the good photos above to show you. Here's more on how they were made...
I started rooting around for easy berry-like stuff while Cirelle was here planting on the kitchen box. I tried various sorts of Styrofoam™ and finally found that the micro cell injection foam packing material used to cushion electronics shaped easily and took paint perfectly (upper left).
Next I discovered that if a pulverized dried flower heads (a bit of them seen far right, upper right photo) and dyed them bright yellow (lower left) and brushed them on with my buddy matte medium (lower right) it gave me the amount of detail and texture I require in Halfland. Not too much, I didn't set each berry seed in place with tweezers for example, although I could have easily enough. But enough texture so that it feels a certain reality in the background of the film.
Each berry was finished off with tops made from stealing petals and leaves of various sizes from other paper flowers and painting them several shades of green. They were pressed down into the foam of the berries and secured with glue around a stem.
This could be one of the biggest thrills I've had in Halfland so far. Strange to feel that about a little background blossom I know. But it was one of those incredible moments of pure invention that satisfied like crazy. Actually, the entire Strawberry affair made me feel a little godlike. I kept saying to myself that I was positive that what I was doing was exactly the way God makes strawberries!
The blossoms I had to Google for. I had to collect a variety of images of the tiny white pentagonal flowers and their triumvirate leaves on my screen and keep walking back and forth from the shop until I grasped what these plants look like enough to render them sufficiently. I was amazed to learn that the blossoms become the berries. Those round yellow globes at their centers transform into the fruits, baring the seeds on the outer surface, all the better for the birds to eat!
I found that a snip off a fuzzy fiber from another silk flower would scale for the centers once dyed a brighter yellow. But my favorite part was my deciding to use yellow sewing thread, wound on a strip of cardboard, tied with fine wire, and snipped to make the splayed stamens behind the little globes. I used my new micro foam brushes from Kit Kraft to daub on two shades of burnt orange tinted medium to just the tips of the cut threads. Assembled the green paper calyx and white paper petals onto the twisted wire stems of the centers with a drop of glue. Painted the stems green and they were ready to be added onto the plant.
I used green vine-y cording from a placemat as the base for about 60 green paper leaves that were taken off of other store bought flowers that I hand-painted with acrylic and watercolor. I changed their shape by rounding them with serrated scissors and gluing them in trios on wire stems. Then each set of leaf, berry, and blossom, including the smallest still-green buds, got twisted onto the plant which in turn was woven into the hand-made twig trellis that had been planted in the windowbox.
I ate strawberry jam while making this little plant and thoroughly enjoyed the whole process. I think my discovering nature artist Graham Owen (thanks to Rob Ives suggesting an unrelated search) has inspired and impacted my way of approaching these types of natural props for Halfland. I owe you a post on who he is, what extraordinary things he creates, and why/what about it inspires me so much. Interested?