Friday, February 05, 2010

It's Coitins!

Finally done, It's curtains. This was one of those deceptive tasks that thinking about, even looking at now, should only take 30 minutes to fabricate. Nope. They took forever. This photo was taken at night so I could post now but it doesn't show how fun having cafe curtains hanging on a branch with metal acorn brackets looks in person. Photos below hint at what took so long.

Cirelle kicked things off on her last visit. She sewed the pale pink fabric with perfect hems all around. The next day I stitched in pleats and used white coated wire in a secret pocket all along the bottom hemline and on each vertical edge.

Talking it out while Cirelle was here, I decided that the branch curtain rods should be hung on brass acorn brackets. I thought they'd keep with the natural theme but also look like normal home furnishings too. First I pried caps from wooden acorns selecting the best defined scales, and glued them on store bought wooden spindles. I made enough for both cottage windows while I was at it to save time.

I used Rub-n-Buff gold metallic wax to apply a metal base color (I used my fingers, even though I believe the product is toxic, because I wanted to get the wax into every crevice. Not smart. Next time I'd use gloves for health and an easier hand clean up.) Then I hit the brackets with strong walnut ink mixture to stain the recesses of the caps and to tone down the bright gold. I used my special non-tox metallic wax pastes in warm gold to hit the high points and warm up the gold to more of a brass. I added a nail to the stem end of them and used a glob of wood glue to secure them to drilled holes in the kitchen wall. Far right, you see a finished bracket holding up the sprouting branch curtain rod.

To make easy uniform cafe curtain rings, I wound black iron wire around my chosen size dowel enough times to make the needed 14 rings and snipped them off with tin snips. I have learned from jewelry making that you NEVER open ring ends away from each other as it ruins the roundness. Instead use two small pliers to slide the ends sideways, as shown above, to open and close around the rod. They stay nice and round that way. I dyed tiny brown gingham ribbon yellow to match the decor better and used small satin cording at each pleat to embellish the spots where the rings were attached with thread.

For the rod/branch, I found in the materials pile an old Bonzai tree branch that had the right amount of zigs and zags I wanted so it looked like a scale tree branch. I started by gluing small preserved greenery to the nubs to make it look as though the branch were sprouting. In the end I wanted fewer, yet larger leaves so I painted some dried leaves I had and attached them to the smaller twigs I had already glued on. I used small patches of rice paper and glue to secure each final leaf, like papier mache, because I didn't want the leaves to pop off with glue alone. I painted the Frankenbranch to blend together. Bottom right, you can see a close up of the curtains hanging on the finished rod.

Another item off THE LIST! Onward! Cirelle is due tomorrow. We plan to tackle the living room curtains. This time two layers, no rings, and tie backs! Good night!


  1. Congrats on another item crossed off the list!

  2. hello, and a warm thank you for the kind words on my blog! i really appreciate the comments, even with the impishness concerning my spending... :D

    i feel kind of shy and blushing because i've been secretly spying on your progress with the halfland project for ever. and i must say i love the concept, and adore all that you make and do. i've been waiting to come up with some witty sea creature to send, but if i don't i hope my fungus portraits will provide some inspiration, or at least some color therapy if needed.

    oh my, now it's really time to go to sleep... time flies, indeed...

  3. Sylvï! I'm so glad you signed up to follow my blog because that's how I found you! I LOVE your blog. Your writing and observations are so refreshing! And your photos are indeed inspiring!

    You'll recognize the photo you took of the tiny white mushrooms when they appear in Halfland!

    I'm so glad you are watching here. I'll be watching you too.

  4. Wowwww... Shelley, I should make a curtain just like this for our kitchen window.

    I see how much time it takes to make such curtains. Cirelle and you were both working on the curtain. You have wires inside. Will you animate the curtains? Or inserted wires only to keep the fabric in place?

    I like the curtain rod the best. You say you painted some dried leaves. How do you paint real leaves? Do you use acrylic matte as a primer?

    Acorn brackets looks wonderful too. But, hmmmm, no gloves while using rub-n-buff gold wax??!! I always use latex gloves while using that wax because you taught me to be careful while working with toxic materials :))

  5. Hee Hee, Yaz! You made me so happy that you were shocked I used RubnBuff w/o gloves!! Hooray! YOU ARE RIGHT!! I should have and will from now on. It was dumb. I wanted to press the gold into every valley on the acorn and didn't think I could with a latex glove on. hmmm, gives me an idea about why some boys... never mind.

    I save any plant foliage I have at home and let it dry out to see how it behaves when dry. These leaves had a nice solid shape but the color was gone to yellow. So I just painted them with green acrylics, a couple coats on both sides. Seems to hold perfectly fine.

    I got the idea for these curtains after being stuck on how to hang them and taking a break in our kitchen and seeing our curtains there. I made those too but they didn't take as long as these! Maybe because they didn't have wire? I don't know.

    The wire is just in case I want the gentle breeze to billow the curtains in a later episode or perhaps Rana might pull them back to see the Time Frog in the pond, etc. But mainly so they stay where they should!

    Thanks so much for asking!

  6. Ok, i see. So, you try drying different leaves to see how they behave. I tried using couple dried leaves but all fallen apart. Having different leaves around drying for future use is a great idea. Thanks for the explanation!

    If you do so, seeing that wonderful curtain animated would be great. I remember you animating Rana's quilt perfectly which had laminated sheets inside.

    And yes :) I have that idea about latex gloves too...

  7. Yeah, I save everything and see how they dry. It's surprising how odd things work unexpectedly. I've got tons extra of every size. Tell me if you need some like that. I'll put in your Spring pack.

    New slogan: Safe Fabricating--wear a glove!!! hee.

  8. Shelley, actually I need some ideas from you about how to dry real tree roots to use in the set. You know I will make very detailed roots for my tree combined with some clay work. I could do all of the roots out of super sculpey but it might be very expensive. I also have some air drying modeling clays which are cheaper than super sculpey. But still I think that using real tree roots would look better. I have been collecting some root pieces found in the places where we go. Those are all in our garden now. I dont have any clue about how to make them work fine in the set. I know you used some real roots too. I need to make them dry perfectly and get rid of the bugs if there is any inside. Also, I want to have a big ivy around the tree and roots. I have been thinking about drying some leaves even some real plants with small leaves. I would need to make the plants (ivy) easly bendable without falling apart. I can make those little leaves with clay too but you can imagine how many small leaves I would need to make for an ivy going all around. I would appreciate any idea about these whenever you have time.

  9. I happened upon my pile of real tree roots as I passed a pile on the sidewalk where someone had just cut down a whole tree and the roots were dug up to be removed. I suspect the tree must have either died or had a disease, which made me hesitate to even touch them, but I thought of all those lovely roots on the set and did it anyway.

    II have never seen any visible spiders or bugs on these BUT as I've said, there must be little nemetoads because there are little piles of saw dust after they sit for a while.

    I personally stay away from chemical poison insecticides and wouldn't ever want anything treated with them to be right in my set, which is 2 feet from where I sit and part of the heart of my home.

    So, an alternative is to bake them? At a loe temperature but long enough to kill any unwanted organisms inside? I'd have to Google for details...

    yuck, that was gross to learn about; mites, termites, freezing, microwaving, oven making wood smoke, etc. yeee.

    Here's what I would suggest for you, Yaz. Build up the root shapes out of something else, like pipe insulation tubes from home repair store (does Turkey have?) or even just rolled up crumpled newspaper masking-taped into long root shapes and taped down as you wish the roots to grow. Then these can be based-painted in a root coloration that you can top with little bits of TREATED real root material.

    And if it were me, I treat the real roots by freezing them for a day inside a plastic bag (to keep nature from getting on the things in your freezer. And then also taking them out of the plastic bag and baking them in an oven for a couple hours at 200 degrees F. The change in temps might destroy the bugs IF they aren't designed by God to survive those extremes!

    I won't treat my roots here as I always wash my hands after going through the plastic tote box that I keep them in.

    If I wanted tree roots today, I'd go to a professional tree removal person (not alone with Hakan for personal safety) and ask if they could save you some pieces that were fairly bug free. A landscaper, a gardener, tree removal service truck, could all be good sources for what is trash to them.

    The outer bark on firewood can be wrapped onto the built up fake roots too. It would be bug free and seasoned from drying out to be firewood.

    That's the other thing. Please keep a good fire extinguisher at the studio, with the hot lights and flammable materials on set, if you'd hadn't done that already. And practice how to use in an emergency. It helps. Thank you!

    In terms of the ivy, I bought fake "silk" ivy to use in 1/2L and I'd be glad to send over any extra. I would paint the plastic stems of glue on the leaves onto something better looking like to did with the tree because obvious fake greenery looks so bad to me on film.

    I doubt you have one in your resort town there, but in case, large crafting stores here like Michael's have huge selections of fake flowers and greenery. I try to buy what I can on sale each time I go.

    I go to the one downtown across from where all the Los Angeles florists go to buy fresh flowers each morning. Professional florists use fake greenery in arrangements sometimes so the best stuff for us is usually near by where they buy.

  10. Coitions are so Kewl...of course,,and RAna is a lucky one! Well done!!!

  11. I love your curtains! I want to make some for my log cabin and of course, my little girl's dollhouse which sits awaiting me to gather the courage to run the tape wire in order to resume construction! I am searching for a tiny red stripe on a white or ecru ground fabric for my cabin and may have to take a trip to a huge fabric store an hour away, Mary Jo's in Gastonia, NC. I work in a quilt shop but we don't currently have a tiny red stripe! Anyway, thank you for showing how you did this! It will help me tremendously!


  12. Hi Shelley,
    I just turned here for checking up a link and found out that the rss feed hadn't worked? How could that be?I almost missed your post!

    You and Cirelle did a great job on the curtains and they just look awesome! And how cozy Rana's window looks from the outsidde... Horay!

    Produce It Online seems to work for both of us, doesn't it? I'm feeling absolutely great (and tired...) for at least two animation artists... So, what next?

  13. SHELLEYYY !!! This is amazing. Thank you sooo much for all the information here!!

    I did not know about baking and freezing the real roots to get rid of the bugs. I will google for the temputures. Making the base roots out of newspaper makes a lot of sense. And then covering with real root pieces. I think this is how I would be going.

    Ivy.. Let me check out here at florists for the ivy. When I was working on my tree, the florists here had very bad looking leaves, fake flowers. I found one good store but it was too expensive. Let me check out here in Turkey (online for other cities here) If I can not find anything good then I would ask you if you send me the extra silk ivy you have.

    Thanks again my friend,


  14. H Jody! Idea: Maybe pretend you are making a list of how to instruct a handiman how to use tape wire in the doll's house--and you might find that the tasks are not so intimidating after all. That's what I'm finding out here.

    Also, don't know if it'd would do for you, but if it were me, I'd sure run a little stripe of red thread where I wanted it to fall on the curtains rather than drive so far just for pre made fabric. Maybe embroidery floss running stitches could be even sweeter if the right scale? Hand-crafted will always have the most charm I think. See what look *might* do? Good luck!

    Hi Jessica! I have to go check your post today but I'm a bust at Public Producer so far! I'm hoping I'll get in the flow yet! Other obligations have kept me from my 1/2L work--again! BUT after I finish (hopefully quickly) an invitation design right now, I plan to ATTACK ATTACK ATTACK! And report later tonight! Thank you for being there/here.

    Hi Yaz! Oh good! Well, it's worth a try! I admit I'm overly cautious regarding poisons in the home, especially when there are uncontrollable amounts coming in everywhere from cell phones, chemicals, water chemicals, and food chemicals, anyway! BUT I can't see how working with insecticides and bringing soaked stuff into your precious set can be healthy! Even after dry!? I figure natural ways are going to always be superior, whenever possible.

    Next time I'm in Michael's, I'll look to see if there's any small ivy I can pick up for you. YOu know, depending on how many leaves you'll need, you might wish to cut out the ivy leaf shapes in your correct scale out of green painted papers and glue them onto painted tan wire vines?

    You could add your flexible cement or similar to the wire just by running it through your fingers, letting it dry, and then painting with acrylics. Number one you could have all the ivy you want, when you need it. And it wouldn't cost you money or the time to go hunt there. You'd be making it from whatever you happen to have on hand.

  15. Shelley yes, you are totally right about using chemicals. I did not know the other ways before you said like heating up in the oven and keeping in the fridge. I will definetely try.

    Thanks a lot for willing to check out in Michaels for ivy!! Using green paper or flexible cement sounds like a good idea too. There would be many many small leaves. I am kind of being lazy here and trying to find a ready made idea. If I do not care much about the perfect shape of each leaf then maybe I can make with whatever I have handy. Or I better start doing now. There is still a lot of time until I start animating. So, making little leaves whenever I have time and getting the leaves ready. If I try making all in once then I can go crazy :)

  16. (^ how odd to see the curtains tHere.
    i'd put one up in our backyard fairy tree over a year ago: but it was simply something from a very old doll house.

    (^ but about tree roots:
    (^I ... have this carrot.
    (^ a very old carrot.

    (^ a dehydrated one.
    (^ it looks like a root now.
    oh wait carrots ARE roots!

    so. uhmmn how to explain this?
    roots that are still feeding a plant water do not look like above the ground roots.

    they are not shriveled up .
    they are more like tubers.

    like as different as a fried fish is from a living octopus different
    so yes. know.
    making something dead look alive is complicated?

    i like bean spouts and sprouted chic peas.
    all white wriggy straws.
    like along a bank: the water exposed troot system with no bark.
    gosh that's a lot of words that still explains ver little about making animatable root stems but there it is.
    much to pond err 2day. thanks for the break
    (.. and not assuming I'm a smammer.

    :smirks at the complex undercurrent of gaining "blog of note" status

  17. Hi Brian! I don't blogs of note are the only targets of spam! I get about 1 or two per day probably because I don't set any word verification for comments. I like the freedom for everyone to say a word without having to play Jumble!

    Great observations about roots and how they look depending on where they live.

    You put doll's house curtains on an old tree?! That's completely awesome!

  18. For sure, Yaz!! I was imaginging ivy leaves with bad detail, just very quickly chopped out roughly. I'd make a stack of various paper sheets that I had painted greens, like we did the tree leaves, and then cut out a shape out of the stack, as many as your scissors can cut at once, like 5 or 6 at a time. FAST!

    They would already be in various shades of random green and look very natural. You could crease/pinch them down the middle as you hot glue them (or what you want to use) to your vines.

    Here's a photo, to suggest you Googling for images like you might want for your set.

    I wouldn't worry about the veins on the leaves unless there are a few for close up.

    I might even make a mass of under growth by gluing down shards of green paper with just a few shapes leaves glued on top. See this photo of the scraps of green paper I used to make rough leaves on this branch

    I bet you'd still need about 60 leaves per long vine. (the amount I made for the strawberry plant I attached them to the vine with wire but glue would be great--depending on how detailed you'll need the vines. You might be able to make kind of green textured blob shapes for background vines.

  19. Ben Stables2:59 AM

    Hi Shelley, Its so interesting to see your blog so long after I last looked. I'm having a break from 'Stop-mo' because I'm busy with exams, etc. I'm so glad to see all your little props! Its what I've always loved about your little project. You pay such attention to detail creating stunning results.

  20. BEN!!!!! How are you?! I had given up on ever hearing from you again! So nice to know you are alright!

    I still have a package for you BUT since we last spoke, I thought of a way to make the marching ants in the film with the little ants I was to send you.

    Can we make a new deal, where I send you one precious ant, treated as if rusted iron and featured on a pendant?

    I hope your exams went well and that you'll be able to see Halfland films before you're future grandchildren get married!!

    So glad to see you again!

  21. Anonymous11:24 AM

    This is so adorable! I love your blog.
    I wanted to let you know that I got the okay to post additional pictures of the cat head on my blog. Disney is pretty uptight so I had to double check.
    Take care!

  22. Hooray, Megan! Thanks so much! I see now, you couldn't know how Disney would feel about your using photos of the Cheshire Cat you designed as it's their "property" right!? Got it.

    Thanks so much for getting the add'l photos, I'll go check them out. There'd probably be a copyright problem posting about the paper cat on Paper Forest, yes?

    Thanks so much for checking out the blog!

  23. Shelley.. you are amazing!!! Thank you so much for all of the info and pictures. I love the idea of cutting leaves out of green painted paper stacks. I think this could make it. Also I dont think I would have close up pictures everywhere. I will make detailed leaves where I would take close up pictures.

    This branch is looking great. I would not have thought these as various shaped paper leaves if you did not tell me.

    Maybe I can make close up parts like the way you did with the strawberry plant.

    I have saved all of your messages here and keeping for the time when I would be working on the ivy. Thanks again!! xxoxx

  24. Yazzy, I remembered too that Paul at Vortex42 made a tutorial of how he made the ivy for his scale. I can't link to that specific post for some reason, but if you scroll about halfway down you see his post called "Cottage Ivy..."

    Might really be helpful!


  25. Paul's cottage ivy is just so beautiful. Thanks so much Shelley for sending me the URL. Gluing branches and then adding leaves.. yes this should do it. He used some materials I can not find but still I think I can substitute with something else. He used something called Ivy Leaf Scatter. I might try getting the same effect by gluing paper leaves like you described before. Need to make some tests and then I think I can find the best way. Thanks again my friend!

  26. Yay Yaz, That's exactly how I had hoped you would react! I say forget the store bought stuff and use what's around. Even just the scraps leftover from when you cut out the stacks of few real leaf shapes for the top

    I took my scraps and chopped them up even smaller (for scatter) by putting a pile in the palm of my hand and slicing through it over and over with a pair of scissors. Chop chop chop.

    Also, it'll help if you can use light weight thin papers, like crepe paper and/or tissue paper. Do they have those in Turkey?

  27. Ben Stables9:43 AM

    Shelley, Don't worry about those Ants! It will be some time before I am able to come back to Stop-motion anyway. Its nice to hear from you again!-Ben
    p.s. Grandchildren are actually quite a way off!

  28. Well, I'm going to send you one ant as a memento of Halfland anyway!

    I know your granchildren are quite a way off! That's what I mean.... Please God, I should be able to show you some Halfland film before they are here to see it! [at the rate I'm progressing, etc.] :)

  29. Same address for you, Ben?

  30. Hey Shelley -
    Today (11 Feb) is St Swisson's Day!
    By which I mean, your package arrived - burnt umber pigment, walnut crystals, tiny tiny wire for insect legs, all wrapped up in textured fabric samples.
    Thank you!

  31. HA! Wonderful! Thanks so much for telling me, Nick!

    You are going to LOVE what a few grains of that pigment does to a prop patina when rubbed directly on or dissolved in matte medium and applied!


  32. Shelley, yep :) I will use whats around. I keep the scraps in a box leftover from my tree. I also have some more fake leaves left. I will try using thsose. We have crepe paper here. I have some home. They are in bad colors but I can paint with acrylics before cutting. Thanks :)

  33. Shelley, I don't mind about that ant. Its just nice to see your blog again!

  34. Croosssssed Out- Checked!

    more progress and great looking curtains!!


  35. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Nice post and this post helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you seeking your information.

  36. ok, Ben, I'll drop the ant! BUT perhaps I can name one after you then? They are so industrious!

    Thanks, Justin!

    Hi Anonymous, you often comment about your college assignment. Can you say more about it? Is it stop motion?

  37. HaHa, how funny! an Ant named after me. That would be great! Not sure I'm that Industrious though! Have you still got the mouse with his chalet and balcony with scrolls of writing?

  38. stephanie dudley7:18 AM

    Wow, good job on the curtains. I guess the key is to make them with extra fabric, to allow for super-deep pleats. My curtains are so small that they pleats didn't take hold, so even if I had wire at the bottom (which I think I do...) the main curtain just balloons out, while the bottom stays in a nice pleated shape... I even tried ironing the pleats in, but they disappeared.

    I believe you that it took a long time! They look great.

  39. OH! You mean BEN the Writing Mouse!? What a great idea to name him Ben, Ben! You helped me picture his balcony so, why not honor you by naming him after you!? perfect.

    Hi Stephanie, so glad you are back at it. Your work is so extraordinary.

    You're right, I learned from making lots of curtains for our house that the rule is to have THREE TIMES (!!!) of fabric for the actual length of the window in order to get that nice undulation.

  40. m_( great, you keep moving and moving! :)
    it's been a bit since i did not stop by. nice new logo you got there.

    ok OFF

  41. Thanks, Dan, I gotta catch up!

  42. my kitchen windows want curtains like these :).

  43. Hee Hee, thanks, Amy. I was coveting Rana's kitchen fabrics today for my kitchen too!

  44. This and you are amazing!!


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