Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Birthing Yanu

Meet Yanu, the owner/wearer of those lovely silk Luna moth wings just made. I wasn't expecting to make him now and then BAM! Here he is! Very quick sculpt. But then, Halfland is all about transformations. The transformations from one thing into another, like the caterpillar to a moth, like day into night, like a lump of clay into a living creation.
Tape and wire armature attached to wooden square stock on base. Paper wings that were used as the pattern for the silk version were attached for scale as clay musculature was added in layers.

His face went through several transformations, the last a surprise to me. (Click to enlarge for reading notes.).
It was a challenge to articulate facial features the way I wanted on a sculpt the size of a walnut. I finally resorted to a magnifying visor worn over my specs and knit cap. I may look funny but I'm thrilled that Yanu has arrived.


  1. He looks great! I'm a big fan of those magnifier visors as well - sometimes just can't work without them!

  2. Ah HA! Emily, that's how you get that incredible detail in your puppets! Brava!

  3. Gotta get me a magnifier! I'm struggling with a figure sculpt at the moment with, as you say, a walnut sized head. Like Yanu, slender and a bit elfin, so details can be really small. In comparison, my fingers are big fat sausages! The sculpt looks ok until I take a closeup photo, then I see how it resembles a half-formed golem.

    Looking great - he belongs to the wings, the wings belong to him!
    Is this the clay sculpt - in plasticine - from which you will make a mould, then cast Yanu? Or is this a clay puppet, that will have to be smoothed and repaired every frame when you move him?

  4. OH YES! Highly recommended to get even a cheaper mag visor, Nick. We got this one for $25 as a gift for Paul's mum in the UK as her sight is gone. But she wouldn't wear it, either because it didn't help her or it mussed up her hair do! Either way. he had to lug it all the way back here for me to use.

    The first time I looked through it, it (they come with 4 different strengths of magnification lenses to swap out) was a work revelation. I couldn't get over how macro the view was.

    I wore it as only needed while sculpting Yanu and had zero trouble with eyes or head, etc.

    Five star rating. Here's the one we got: Nice and cheap but serviceable:

    Lighted Magnifier Visor with 4 Lenses 1.5 - 3.5X by Pro Magnify $19.99 (plus shipping)


    OH! This Yanu is still just the sculpt! He'll be moulded wit Ultra Cal plaster and then cast with my patented latex mache method. Except for his face, too crude to capture such small details that way. Thinking of casting just the facial features in a skin of plain latex.

    Ideas? What are you planning on using for your'n?

  5. Awesome sculpt Shelley! You've been so enamored with sets for so long, its nice to see you working on a puppet! I love that you didnt plan on building him, that it sort of just happened, its such an invigorating feeling to work on something that demands to be made RIGHT NOW :)

  6. You got it, Ubatubes! It is a fantastic feeling! It's like a got a little space of real creative time with no one else here but still "in motion" from the momentum of the crowd coming every Friday. That's the trick I think. Private creative time that has the main problems pre-resolved by working it out with others. Then it all just rolls!

  7. Yanu is beautiful! It looks like he could just fly right off your workbench.

  8. Thanks, Jon. I made his stance a bit more insect like vs. my earlier sketch. His penis isn't really one, it will really be the tail of the body of the moth that he is. It was a happy bit of luck for me that the male human body crotch and the moth's body tail would fall at the exact same spot!

  9. Hi Shelley,
    Thanks, I'll check out that visor!
    I'll be moulding in Ultra Cal and casting my puppet in Ecoflex 00-30 silicone - my first full body silicone cast. So far I've only done heads. It's a young smooth-skinned character so I want it to stay smooth and not wrinkle the way foam latex can. It worked for my 3 silicone boys' heads. Also I hope it will last longer - foam latex puppets do deteriorate with age. Any latex does, but the foam ages faster.

    Patented latex mache method eh?
    He's fairly thin limbed so he probably doesn't need to be ultra-soft to bend into different poses.

  10. hi Nick, I don't know about your three silicone boy pupps, where can I see them?

    Latex mache (just layering latex soaked rice paper, as with paper mache), a great method for me I discovered whilst making the Time Frog pupp, makes smooth skin and can be as thick or as thin as one likes. The skin is back-flled with straight latex or cut upholstery foam to embed the wire armature.

  11. Sounds good!
    And I meant to say, good solution with combining the insect and human anatomy - if he was just an ordinary guy the wings would look stuck on, but I can believe they grew on him.

    My silicone headed boys are in my Ray Harryhausen 90th birthday tribute at my StopmoNick Youtube channel:
    Difficult stuff to use, since there are many things that prevent the platinum silicone from curing - had to get non-sulphur clay to sculpt in.
    The rest of them is built up from cut foam, since unlike Yanu they are clothed. Hands are latex over wire.

  12. Sur-scribed!!!! Loved the film, Nick m..m

  13. Great job, Shelley!
    Yanu is a neat piece of work, well done! The moth theme is very close to the fairy folk, and the native-american style supports his elfish character. To me it's a well-rounded puppet!

    It's a shame that L.A. is that far away from where I live, I'd love to visit your studio as well! I want to see more!

  14. Thank you, Jessica!

    If you lived here or I lived there, there's no telling what films we'd egg each other on to making! We wouldn't let the other one stop for anything else.

    GO GO GO we'd say!

  15. And so we do!
    GO GO GO!!!

  16. You know, that really helps! Thanks!


    Puppets mean ANIMATION....Now Im really excited!!


  18. "Puppets mean ANIMATION"


    Thanks so much, Justin.

    I was on your site(s) last night finding links for ma crew and was even more impressed with you and Shel in every way than I was before!


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