Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dandelying: part 1

Spent a lot of time building small dandelions to be planted in a cluster in the grass growing on the cottage roof above the kitchen as well as in spots in the landscape. The results seen here were from my first batch. I was happy with them but not fully. In the next post I plan to show what method gave even better results.
The first batches were made around "seed heads" made from German model railroad grass glued onto wires, then painted with browns and yellows on the tips. Next these were either flocked with hand-cut feather flufff or natural wool roving fibers.

I was most interested in capturing the feeling I get when closely looking at a globe dandelion in nature. The smaller seed head inside what appears to be a clear round bubble covered in fluffy white tufts in perfect symmetry. I know there is no invisible ball around the seed head, but that 's the experience I have when looking at one.

I spent wasted? a lot of time making a hollow ball mold and casting either hot glue or other non-toxic translucent material into into it and carefully joining the two halves to make a ball (seen lower left with paper calyx ready to be flocked). I then placed tiny dots of glue to imitate the tufts and daubed them with chopped fibers. This gave the feeling of dandelions. I was happy with the effect and felt they fit in Halfland. Handmade. Detailed. A sketch of real nature.

After all of that, I thought to myself, you know, how much more difficult could it be to make these dandelions the way nature actually does it? In Dandelying: part 2 you'll be able to see.

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.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flowers for Justin*

Justin Rasch is one of the truly luckiest men on earth. That sparkle of love you see in these lovely ladies eyes was all for him. Shel and Aedon share a giggle over sending their sweet thoughts to daddy while he's away on his Stop Motion Mission.
Last Saturday Shel and Aedon Rasch came over to visit and play. yay! Lucky me that Shel found herself with a little window of time to come over, something I always want more of. And even though she's still (RAPIDLY!) recovering from knee surgery she still managed to climb the many flights of stairs here, did my dishes while I rushed to finish making lunch (! The horror of Shel as a guest doing that! But she couldn't stand to see all the dirty dishes staring at her after a while. note; Dish stack pictured not the actual stack washed by Shel but that's what it looked like. HA!) I had been trying to tidy the place up before she arrived but I was cutting it close and she arrived while I was still in my typical slept in dumpster look. Sigh.

Shel and I cut an acre of crisp crepe paper grass for the set after lunch. Later, I thought Shel might like to try to make some bright flowers with the new doublette (2-color double-sided) crepe paper I just bought from Castle in The Air (owned by reader Karima!) She made truly lovely blooms (seen in the top photos) for the macro garden in Halfland and even showed Aedon how to do it too.

Aedon was a blur of animated joy and creativity the whole visit. She seemed quite happy to make things in the shop, hunt for the hiding cats, and catch an episode of the Brady Bunch, make squishy foam fish puppets and adorable clay figures.

As always I found them both so easy to be with, great to share with, inspiring to be around. But wait there's more...

In a fantastical instance of Life Imitating Art, as they were leaving Shel and Aedon rescued a very lost, skinny, hungry, desperate little puppy on our street. I was sad to see it looking for Cirelle, whom it had met the night before in our parking lot. But I was just going to once again shake my head in sadness and go on with my life. Not our Superhero Shel! Once we saw the little guy holding his paw up on the corner hoping each passerby would care for him, Shel called for him and as he cheerfully ran to her she leapt out of her van (!), assessed he was safe to interact with, told Aedon they would bathe and feed him but that he was not theirs to keep--got the agreement, gathered him under her caring arm and was off with him is under 23 seconds! Swoop! It's a wonder her cape doesn't get caught in the car doors!
He is happy, on the way to healthy, has a haircut by Shel (photo from her mobile phone above) , and is currently in the heart and home of.....

CIRELLE! Hopefully more photos to come soon>>>>

UPDATE::::: He is a fantastic dog! So adorable. Here are photos taken at his home after he'd settled in to his new happy forever love home with Cirelle....

Thanks for being our Hero Shel. 

*A postcard from home for you, Justin.

A Blade of Grass

Update of Party Bug building from last week. The battle weary dragonfly above now salutes the guest of honor with a sword made from... what else but a blade of grass! I picked a tiny bloom, dried and painted its calyx to center in his golden pod crown. The hilt of sword is some strange dried plant material I found here and coated with the very sticky last of the now gone forever Petal Porcelain which was also used on the real blade of grass as well. Both were painted after being preserved.

I worked many hours on making balloons for around his waist as I'm sure he can't fly quite as well as he used to but the miniature glass Christmas bulbs I used as their bases, under hand-painted cellophane silk, had a too wide an opening and it *just* missed looking like balloons I think. Although as I typed that I realized I should try lowering the knot and see...


These are more Party scene extras. The top guy with the crooked antennae is wearing purple pants with an Elvis-like white belt and gold belt buckle made from the head of a sequin pin to offset his yellow pollen shoes. Schnazzy.

The middle guy is blind in the eyes but sees well through the bulbs on his antennae. I like the texture the yellow flocking gives his body and the gentle iridescence on his wings from a paint that has been discontinued by Nova Color :(

The bottom guy on the left is just a small translucent and pink with polka dot fuzzy wings dude. And that's "Buck" on the right. He's super small and yet has such a fun personality! The droopy eyes and protruding front teeth! And sassy pollen clump shoes!

Having way too much fun making these.
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