Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Micro Set FINISHED!: Mouse House Exterior

For scale see the geraniums on the stump through the gate next to the smallest of the dandelions. And also see the uber small twig bench under the cherry tree, after I filled-in/covered the cement joins underneath it and the tree roots with finely sifted mulch as dirt. (clicking on all photos enlarges them enough to see details much better! Clicking is good!)

Spent some time pushing to complete the Writing Mouse's House exterior set-on-set. It's in the micro-scale (there are three scales on the main set; Halfland scale [1:3], Macro scale [1:1], and Micro scale [guessing.... 1:12?] It's tiny!
When I painted the landscape a bit a while ago I used a big brush and several colors of green paint that will work ok for the distant parts of the set. But it wouldn't work for the micro set areas that will need to be seen in macro close-ups. I took some time and covered all those painted areas back up with matte medium and mulch to break up the painted look. Above on the right, you can see a cluster of Halfland's smallest dandelions. There are dandelions in each of the three Halfland set scales now. (DandeSaga in planned for next post.)

I find, and maybe you do as well, that it takes more energy to push through the last 3% of a project than the first entire 97%. Been trying to figure why that is. All I could get is that at 97% the finishing touches seem so obvious that they can seem inconsequential but in fact when actually making them they are surprisingly still as challenging as the earlier parts. Whatever the reason, it seems to be an issue of mushy perception. Some people know how long and how much energy and effort will be required to fully complete things, either from experience doing it or from a facility for gauging it. For me it's a constant surprise.

But push on through I did. And now I get to mark off another project completion off the shrinking list.
I added micro flowers to the Mouse's flower garden. I finally finished his ironwork upstairs balcony. I make fine work in jewelry but found making this little railing so difficult I resorted to tying the swirls on with black thread and then painted the entire piece with iron paint and rusting it over.
To get the ground cover texture for detail shots I pulverized the same crepe paper used as grass throughout the larger landscape. I lay down a coat of matte medium and sprinkled the hand cut fine paper pieces as if sowing seed, let dry, adding yellow highlights for a meadow effect. The larger batch of greens cut down by hand from grass-making scraps took :30 minutes to make and will cover the entire other micro-set area, the mushroom cafe.

You can see some of the vegetables, tomato vines on tiny twig trellis on left, squash (with grains of sand painted as seeds) next to them, carrots and cabbage on right, etc. a "bit" better in the shot above taken with the film's FZ50 (perhaps click to see even closer). But I will need to figure out how to get even closer macro detail and keep a sharp focus for these micro-set scenes. Will experiment with extremely shallow depth of field as shooting them begins.

The reason this set warrants this much attention to detail is because when we first arrive in Halfland, this set is the first thing we see (after the glimpse of a long shot). The audience will be forced to assume that the entire world of Halfland is this micro scale. How thrilling it will be to blow peoples minds as the camera swings back for the reveal of the much larger cottage and all its detail.


  1. I think Jessica is right on about the 97;3% issue in her comment emailed to me.... (anyone else having trouble posting their comments?)

    from Jessica Koppe

    Shelley, WOHOOO! First of all: what an amazing set you built! This is marvelous! WELL DONE YOU! It's such a rich environment your little writer mouse is going to live in, that I wish I was like Alice in Wonderland and shrink and explore this world as my own.

    Concerning the 97:3% issue: I always experience an exponentially growing Resistance (yes, in Capitals) the moment I can see the end of a process. I'm getting nervous and anxious and it takes so much longer to get started again, no matter, how deep I was into the flow before.

    The other reason is, that we normally build things from rough elements to delicate details, and that it takes longer to build the more precise elements than the rough ones.

    I think in my work it's a combination of the two reasons mentioned above that stretches the last 3% to the (felt) length of the previous 97%.
    Is this helpful? I don't have a solution, aside from just moving on.

  2. oh my goodness! even tinier! amazing. will there be a tiny house inside the mouse house calling for nano scale?

  3. Seriously, I think you've got a shrink ray hidden somewhere.

    I have to tell you that I've gotten a lot out of your communication with Jessica Koppe. I've been experiencing a block lately, and seeing that it happens to gifted artists (such as the both of you), encourages me to continue with my own humble efforts.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. _____Nooooooo to NANO! Nooooooooooooo! Well, maybe, Nooooooooooooo! I have to draw that line, gl!

    _____Aww thanks, JON! Two big tips for the stucks I can offer:

    1. Small steps add up dramatically well beyond expectation/estimation. Keep chipping away at the small tasks, with consistency.

    2. GET PEOPLE TO PITCH IN! The Halfland army that comes over each Friday, really doesn't get a whole lot done on the project (see #1. though) BUT the regularity of them coming over keep ME organized, laser focused on what can be done, and by whom. And I always am given a huge block/hurdle knock down after each visit. Things that I would be resistant to begin alone become easy and begun with the crew. Highly recommended to create an open studio day once/week. (be safe about it/know the people) But hell yeah, a huge gift.

    ____Thanks, Karima! Did you see your wonderful Castle in the Air crepe papers are being used in a recent post?!

  5. Wow - Mouse Heaven!
    Half the scale of my sets, but twice the detail.
    Jon picked it - gotta be a shrink ray!

  6. Thanks so much for that, Nick! I've been feeling kinda coming-up-short-compared-to-others-skill recently.

    Not enough to stop me at all, gotta do what I do, etc. But enough to cool me on the idea of exhibiting the set in a gallery later.

    I always thought this project was so the bomb until the web starting showing me people who do it far better (people like you actually).

    So now I'm letting the gallery idea go. I think.

    The project is still the most fun and most fabulous thing I can imagine doing though. More into it than ever.

  7. Goodness, you do blow me away, such details, such magical talent.

  8. Thanks, Halfland's Official Naturalist!

  9. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Okay it's official, you have the best job on earth! Celeste

  10. You ain't kidding, Celeste! Welcome!


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