Saturday, May 08, 2010

How will I ever catch you up? Puppet Building Underway

Finally, after many long years, I finally have an animatable Pink Snail puppet completed. It's all entirely flexible and can ripple at the edges.

Two important things about this post. One is that puppet building has commenced in Halfland in earnest. Making the Koi puppet from foam ignited my ability to make all the characters EASILY! EASILY EASILY! No sweat whatsoever, just the fun parts. The four main characters will still be cast from molds (more on the wild method/material solution I've been using in the next posts), but now the rest of the cast won't be. Heh.

Using the build-up method instead is not only knocking out these long-standing puppets but also giving me a chance to test material and techniques for the more featured puppets later on.

Built around two tie down points, this foam fellow has twisted wire inside its length (finishing at the lower lip loop), and metal gutter mesh on the underside all the way to the fluted edges of the sides. I used two glass beads for the eyes, from a pair of earrings Cirelle donated, secured into rubber tubing eye stalks filled with wire. It's all one piece deep within the wooden head parts. The top layers were paint, flexible cement, and heavy gloss medium.

It's embarrassing to say, but I'm choosing to say everything here just as-it-is regardless. It's not deeply meaningful or anything profound to me, just a throw away subconscious joke, like the Knitting Beetles, or Lightning in a Bottle, etc., but the Pink Snail with the home on her back, is partly meant to be female genitalia-like, as well as just storybook sweet.

When I was young, a girl was joking about girls leaving snail trails if they were dragged along (I know, sorry, but it stuck in my subconscious), and the whole sort of slick glossy pink undulating flesh thing that snails are, added to the feeling. The shape and two ovary/fallopian tube-like eyes cinches the metaphor for me.

I was really worried about having such an overtly sexual element in this (notwithstanding Yanu's visible hoohah and the whole snake/male muscle deal with the sage.) I think I'm a prude really. So as I was making the puppet above, I thought of changing the color to a more realistic color and avoiding the whole treacherous vagina idea... then from the Weirdness Dept.... as I started to paint the finished puppet with a WHITE base coat [see lower right above], W H I T E mind you, no color at all anywhere on the brush, water, table, etc. it brushed on PINK!!!! On its own. I swear it's true. The pale color pink you see in that photo appeared on its own. I took it as a sign to go ahead as I'd always intended and I just went for it, even telling you all what she/it represents here. So, there it is.

Probably the best news is that I not only finished the puppet at last, but also her house to a 100% level.

I rigged her porch lantern with a yellow painted balloon LED (My favorite little special effect trick b/c they're so cheap and easy--that's doesn't sound right given this post). I painted her window box with more colors. I added fiberfill smoke wisps to her chimney. And although it won't likely ever be filmed, you should know that inside her tiny floral wall-papered house is a painted portrait of her mom.

Already begun construction on the large scale garden path near the cottage for her to lumber through in the evening rain.


  1. Naughty you! ;)

    No. serious, I again admire your opulence of details... Even a picture in the snail's house! How nice is this!

    I've got a practical question: I was thinking to use LEDs (for simple lighting or colour effects) in my project, too. How do you hide the power supply, and much more important, what kind of power supply do you use? Could you share a kind of circuit diagram?

  2. OMG!, Jessica, I thought I had nagged about these LED's too much already but you must hear how much easier these are.

    So, I was going to create a circuit for that snail porch lantern. Years ago I even went so far as to pay a lot for a miniature railroad LED that required hooking up to a large battery that would have to be wired to the light and secured through the set out of sight, etc. But then I discovered....

    The Balloonminator!!!!! (Now discontinued but similar to these.)

    THe are self containd, turn off and on !!!!!!!!!!!!!! (a total of about 8 hrs) so can be turned off with a simple twist when shooting ends for the day. And when the three little batteries wear out, they can be replaced easily.

    I know that you are adept at wiring but I resisted the whole challenge forever and this was so simple for me that I'm hooked on them now. I paint the clear domes with tinted medium to alter the light color.

    I bought enough locally to light all the candles in the cottage, including the six in the chandelier, the sconces, the inside of the frog's belly, the Moon lanterns in the tree, anywhere! NO WIRES to worry about!

    The units are light weight, sleek, and compact, about 1" long, and .35" in diameter.

    Big floral supply shops sell them and the equally essential waterproof versions called Acolyte.

    You might prefer to wire your own lighting circuits, but I wanted you to know these are very cool.

  3. Shelley, that's amazing! I didn't know that kind of LED, because I'm always hanging around the nerds at the electronic shops... ;)

    But those lights seem to be the solution of my graveyard lighting. I normally love to solder and stuff, but for some scenes I would have hated hiding all the cables and connections and batteries... These little things seem to be perfect!
    Thank you!

  4. Magic is going on here. I love love love all this work you have to show. last 6 cool stuff.
    ya puppet build up is sooo much faster and you do such an amazing job at it. the picture of her mom inside her house, cracks me up.

  5. Thanks, Rich! Hang onto your knit cap! I've got no less than 16 posts ready to post! The most amazing one so far being the Time Frog! Yipes! So exciting!

    I'm in heavy deadlines for books at this moment but as soon as I'm able, I'm ON IT!

    Thanks for watching and liking!

  6. The snail actually looks very convincing...apart from being pink! Then again pink snails don't seem unusual anymore! Still, the skin has the right texture...Well done again Shelley! Its great to see you getting on with things.
    You must try to get a shot of that portrait of 'mum' in the film!

  7. Thanks so much, Ben! Once again you are attentive and kind.

    I'll try to go inside the snail shell in later episodes. And if not, everything can be fully documented properly in a book or special features on the USB "cinema".


  8. Hi Shelley!
    Your funny and brilliant! Looks like the Girl Friday was fun. I wrote you about the wasp nest...Did you get it?

  9. Thanks, Marcie HON!! (Halfland's Official Naturalist!)

    NOooooo! I went back to your post where I asked you about the nest but didn't see any answer there at that point. I didn't subscribe b/c you get so many comments!

    I figured I was fixing to ask you coming up,,,, but you answered?! Wha wha!?

  10. Excellent!


  11. Hi Shelley!
    It's been ages since I've checked any blogs, partly I suppose because I haven't updated mine in ages, but possibly also because I feel guilty having not accomplished anything on my sets lately. My hand, which I injured sometime ago is partly to blame, and also got me a bit depressed so I've been somewhat avoiding blogging/tweeting and the like until my spirits were better.
    Your post here is very inspiring, and I love how you give so much back-story. The snail body looks amazing--and it's interesting that white paint turned her pink. I'm loving her house as well, and I appreciate the hidden details, like the pic of her mother. I'm like that too. I finish all side of my sets, knowing they won't be filmed, and add detail to areas that probably won't be filmed either.

    Take care. I hope to eventually get the ball rolling around here again someday soon.
    DJ xo

  12. HI DJ! So nice to hear from you here! I follow you on Twitter and try to get a sense of how it's going going by your tweetings or not tweeting. Sorry you're in a unfun funk. They do pass!

    Thanks for the support, it really helps! Knowing I'm not a lone nut is so comforting.

    I'm watching for that ball movement, girl. Which is so much better than a... oh, never mind!

  13. I love that snail but the little lantern just made my day! Who wouldn't want to stumble across that little inviting thing, now really?

  14. Thank you, Mike Adair! You've got the intent exactly!

    Wait until you see the party for caterpillars and butterflies at mushroom village! Cutest. Thing. Yet.

  15. I can't wait. To think, this is all happening right under our noses!

  16. Under mine too, Mike! I screamed out loud when the cafe party vignette developed step by step. I screamed and wrote down each step!

    plaid mushrooms!
    plaid table clothed mushrooms!
    plaid table clothed mushrooms with plates as spots!
    plaid table clothed mushrooms with plates as spots that have magnets under the cloth for light pupp tiedowns!
    plaid table clothed mushrooms with plates as spots that have magnets under the cloth for light pupp tiedowns for butterflies and caterpillars to meet!!
    and about four more screams after that!

  17. Definitely scream-worthy! It's truly inspired.

    A party is one thing but a stopmo party? It lasts forever! I envy you. Enjoy every minute.

  18. Aww, thanks, Mike Adair! Likewise!


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