Wednesday, November 09, 2011

6 Minutes in The Shop



Here's a random tour around the workshop taken on a recent cold rainy afternoon.

Come see just some of what's randomly in-progress on the tables and in the boxes in the workshop; snails, large-scale gardens being built with composite snail trails, message leaves reveal their answers, spiders in the attic, coloring book chickens, and more!

Next Tour: The completed fully-dressed set!

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Pinpillar

As Rana sits in the light of dusk in her cozy easy chair, with her stitching on her lap, we will see a large, striped, pincushion caterpillar slowly making its way up the arm of the chair toward her sewing box to offer his black-topped tailor pins.
This was a spontaneous addition to the cottage puppets, easily and quickly executed. It went from notion--seeing a hotdog shaped pincushion I had made looking like a caterpillar--to the installed critter in less than a day. upper left is the real life pincushion and a photo of a pillar along with the nubbly wooly shaped I'd sewn for something else on the project and abandoned. Below that, you see the progress after adding small dollops of crackle gel onto the heads of many 1/2" gold sequin pins, after painting them glossy black and securing each one into the wired shape with glue. I striped him after the fact with permanent marker which I do realize is the hard way as I had to touch up the pins afterward. But it was only after seeing him covered in pins that I saw he needed more cheer and color. He needed to read more like a caterpillar as well as a pin cushion. The stripes did that for me.

He attaches to the upholstered chair via matching-headed long needles as tie-downs (in silver so I can find them while animating him crawling.)
When we enter the cottage we will see him curled up in Rana's sewing basket on her chairitable. Then the next time you see him, he'll be moving on the chair. It's a small touch but it adds quite a lot of depth to the scenes. It adds to whatever is behind the other decorative pins in Rana's sewing kit which are made of ladybugs and flies as well as pearls and jewels. It adds another creature that is half organic/half inanimate; things that look like other things, etc.

And making it prompted me to have to actually install the other sewing kit on the arm of the chair, which included gluing in each of those pins as well. And sewing the shell box onnto the chair with thread that I then painted over to match where it lay. I had to stiffen up all the dangling threads on both settings and fasten them down.

I can count on one hand the number of things left to do in the cottage before it is ready to begin shooting its scenes.

Whether Vain or Not

I always wondered what the weather vane atop Rana's cottage would be. A rooster, a sun, a spider I thought. But when it came time to finish off the cottage roof and to really imagine what would be there, it had to be the Writing Mouse. He is a very important Halfland character and very close to Rana. He lives underneath the cottage in his own house and writes everything that happens down. The Answer Tree above them produces its wisdom on its very leaves and he is a crucial part of all of that.


I've tooled his image as a double-sided copper figure, gazing upward to the skies, pen and journal in hand, with white and spring green patina to reveal the detail.
Having to make this line art to use as a guide for the embossing, prompted making a color sketch of the Mouse. I used two squares of thin copper and various stylus tools to essentially draw the image twice, once flipped the other way, so they could be placed back to back to get a nice dimension.

Once these halves were matched up, seamed together as one, I set about creating the directional of leaves (actual directions don't matter at all in Halfland) finishing them of with thick medium and copper paint (so it would appear to be part organic blending from the metal hardware.

I used KS metal tubing to closely fit the figure into the base stem. It can swing freely with precise control, no wobble whatsoever. I used a wood doll chair leg as the wooden base on top of the cottage cupola. I liked how it looked like a bee skep.

Ah, I see we are expecting a lovely day.

Now That's Dirty

Got my close-up ground cover technique down: 1. foam roller brush on matte medium onto brown dyed fabric or direct set surface. 2. Dust with mulch (to the scale you need; sifted fine for micro scale or big chunks for macro), 3. Repeat once or twice more over that until coverage/scale desired is reached. 4. Then sit down like a fool and hand glue down stuff that's on the ground naturally, like leaves, berries, twigs, pebbles, rocks, etc.

The idea of making these cloth ground surfaces like the sand, grass, and dirt is very versatile. If I need a bit of set in a background, I can use any old things around, boxes or old drop cloths, to make a base and then throw one of the texture cloths over the top for an instant portable place.
Back in August, Halfland helper Esther brought her truly darling grandchildren to Halfland for the experience. I put them all to work of course. There's always crepe paper grass to plant here.

These kids were among the most intelligent and sincere people I've met. They don't watch television, they read, and I could tell the difference. It was dramatic.They delighted in seeing everything, actually helping on the set, etc. They were full of fanciful ideas for the film. I hope they'll be able to come again.

They better hurry, hopefully Halfland will be be all lovely and done before they graduate collage. :)
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