Monday, September 30, 2013

Rana's Range of Emotion

Main Character's actual puppet face in progress, exploring her range of emotion/expression.

Began to make the Halfland pupps in earnest by visiting Hiromi Paper in Los Angeles, one of the best selections of Japanese washi known to humanity. Luxury at affordable prices, depending on what you're after. I was there to get a few sheets of what I'd been calling "rice paper" for the outer skin layers in the mache-in-mold technique. I was set straight by a young man working there that only ignorant white people would assume that washi (Japanese for paper) must be made of rice. That in fact nothing in the shop would be made with rice except the starch glue. In fact, the papers I had selected to buy were made with a relative of the mulberry plant.

Whatever it's made from, washi's strength when whetted and malleability/moldability makes it irreplaceable when it comes to this method. Don't be concerned about the delicate pink seen above when home on far left. Even after used 3-layers thick and intensified in color in Rana's face mold, I intend to use it as her skin undertone. See how sheer, yet sturdy washi is, with Nova Color's Matte Medium, on right.
I laid in two more layers of heavier washi behind the pink to stabilize. Used masking tape to secure 1/16" Amaloy wires into the lips and brows. Slathered the interior with Aleene's Fast Grab glue, filled the lips and brow hollows with crumbs of blue neoprene foam bits to keep them fleshy soft and expressive.

 The blue foam was held in place by a layer of ultra thin spongy foam glued down. I used a plastic bag filled with sand to weigh it all down, while in the mold, and then smashed the bag of sand down with pressure from heavy books and a kettle bell weight (don't tell Paul, he was out of town.)

What gave me this soft fleshy foam portions in the rigid hard puppet face idea was two things; one, something Justin Rasch said in the Q & A at his movie premiere. That he liked to keep some parts of his character's faces in clay on top of their cast foam latex, so that he can extract more expressive performances. That remark really got me thinking. And second, when I made Rana's ears (above right) from shaped foam rung with wire and mach'ed over with washi, it was a revelation. They behaved like animatable flesh and had the right rustic look.
The ears were installed and will add nice additional reactions to her facial expressions. A second large horn was sculpted from light weight air-dry clay and their positions around the ears were determined. Her mouth, nose, human ears, and eyes were then sliced and hacked open all the way through. The wires allow the range of expression seen in the top image in this post.


  1. I just like the way Halfland and its characters naturally evolve from your life and knowledge. This is just beautiful to watch!

    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! The entire thing is a wild wild ride for sure!


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