Sunday, December 13, 2015

Shelley's All Color Light

Been watching the light change in the house through the day, paying close attention to how the sun, cloud cover, and time of day affect the quality of light falling on objects. What I respond to and what I want to attempt to recreate in various Halfland scenes.

One of the things I came up with was to take an old swatch book of lighting filters I'd inherited from Upstairs Clare and glue them in chroma order onto a sheet of thick acetate. I then framed that mosaic and feathered the outer edge of it all with black paint to make a multi-hue gobo.
The results are interesting! I am loving how I can position it for warm or cool colors depending on what's being shot, fire hearth to undersea.
Having fun finding ways to use it, imitating different times and types of daylight.

Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Picture Halfland Books Moving!


Start Casey Neistat's vlog from November 11, 2015 at mark 8:52 near the end for a clue to the future of Halfland.

They are called Video Brochures and I intend to have six small sequences of Halfland animation embedded into them and have them bound into over-sized Halfland storybooks, that are fully illustrated with embellished stills of the whole story.

There will be three total volumes to tell the whole Halfland tale, each with about six chapters, a motion device like these for each chapter, featuring an important moment in the story.

I'm picturing a simple twenty second moment of; Night time in Rana's cottage, her turning her head toward the hearth and leaning over to stir the kettle of soup; then looking up into the camera and giving the reader/guest a pleasant smile, for one.

Another could be, in the third volume, the whole troop of characters, dressed in their travel gear, fighting their way into the golden sands of the Secret Season. The sound could be of wild winds blowing.

A new friend and Halfland fan, told me that when she was little, she would pour over a special set of children's books she had. She would read the stories and then close the books and tilt their lenticular illustrated covers over and over, just to get the thrill of seeing moments of the story to move a little.

I think these may have been the "illustrated puppet books" she was remembering from the 60's:
Vtg-1966-The-Wild-Swans-by-Hans-Christian-Andersen-w-3D-Hologram-Cover-Froebel

This new technology of embedded media players into paper books would, to my mind, allow Halfland story-art books to hopefully be even more magical an experience for their readers.

More on this later...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I'll Be Sea-ing You!

Yes, I know, it's ridiculous! I am well underway on the construction of the undersea set. I meant to hold off on building this in hopes someone else could take it on as their own project. But, as always happens, whenever I say "I won't work on xyz" The very next thoughts that rush into my mind are in fact, fun, easy methods for how to build that very thing. And then I'm all in and off I go building.

The good news is that there's now a 100% better chance of all you lovelies actually seeing your wonderful fish puppets in the film! 
I sketched the idea with a small paper box, cutting out as much as possible without destroying the integrity of it. Next, wrapped it in plastic sheeting and painted it black, to vignette the edges of the openings, leaving one of the short ends open like a lens to film through.
Lit from above, I walked my hand around inside the sketch and viewed through the opening. Even without any blue tinting, etc. it looked like the idea would work as I wanted. So it was onto the full-sized version....!

Bought 3 large moving boxes for $1.20 each, fitting one inside the other halfway, and using duck tape (it actually was Duck Tape brand of duct tape.) to secure all seams, inside and out. Then I set about cutting it open, extending the side openings out like wings to increase the width of the set.

The far short end will be painted blackest black and have a diffusion in front of it so it will feel like it disappears into far distance. The interior will be carpeted in thin painted foam that had been laminated onto layers of aluminium foil so it is posable. On the right, you see the set all fully sculpted and all corregated edges taped-off with masking tape ready for painting.

Stay tuned... having illegal amounts of fun with this.

Thanks for watching.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Visit from Shel and Daughter Unit A!

Yay! It had been about three years I think since I'd seen Ms. Shel Rasch! (Director of wonderful award winning stop motion films such as Dogonauts and Gerald's Last Day) Too long!

Updated to add that I went to see the Raschs at the premiere of their short; Dogonauts--Enemy Line!

The last time was when she came all the way over to the old loft when I was in bad physical condition during a rush move into this new place and was destroying a lot of the sets and concerned about how to proceed. It meant so much that she came over and gave me some of her good vibrations and told me everything was going to be okay. Her visit then made all the difference.

Shel is one of the extraordinary souls that make you feel better when they are around. There's a rumor that the Rasch family may be moving out of LA for good at some point so it's important to make sure we see each other while she is still nearby. She visited the other day along with the (nearly grown up (!) budding concept artist, Daughter Unit A.

We caught up a bit and I got to show them the new set ups here. I love when I get to show people the jokes coming in the bug party scene. One thing they got to see that hasn't been blogged, is this tiny present with the plain moth. The lid is rigged to open and the moth can emerge and fly away. I embedded the hand-made box into the base (upper left) so only the moth will move during that sequence. The base will be screwed into the set from underneath. What such a moth, with gold on its wing tips, means I don't yet know.

I only snapped the above shots of the ladies updating their signing in our dark hallway on the guest artist boards as they were about to leave because I just wanted to enjoy spending time with them, to take them in as much as possible while I still can.

Hopefully, we'll get to do it again! Because Shel Rasch and her lovely daughter are some of the most talented, interesting people on the planet. Love you guys!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Mouseland Comes to Halfland!

Lucky me! I got to have one of my most favorite artists, the one I feel most kindred with, come to visit last week! The extraordinary Ms. Maggie Rudy, creator of Mouseland (no, we did NOT copy each other--the names of our places being so similar was pure coincidence.)

I didn't have to fret about Maggie's visit, you know, whether my housekeeping was presentable, etc., because having her over was as natural as having myself over. That's how much I understand her, and believe she, me.
“My house is only clean when I'm neglecting my art!”
(Maggie-ism when I told her I wouldn't likely have time to get the house in shape) 

We had a long enough visit for me to show her my most important favorites and for a few things she thought I should know about to be written down, during speed talking conversation. She brought me a "January box"! (It was a super duper doozy one, details below). I gave her her January box early, as she was here but I'm continuing to add to one for mailing up to her early next year on schedule. These are little boxes in which we collect material that we feel may be of use in our respective lands and send through the mail. I started doing it just to show my appreciation for her work, a fan tribute. She outdid mine with what she brought down with her though and never has to give me another thing again.

Another tradition, established this visit, was to cook each other lunch with as much vivid natural color as possible. Fun, right? It was accidental as I was talking so much I didn't know what I was putting in the oven. Only about half of what I had planned to serve her got made. But what came out was so bright and pretty we enjoyed it all the more. Now the problem is getting me to leave my house to get to Portland to for her chance to do it. Ha.
She gave me a precious Mouseland button. I think one of the things I love the most about Maggie's work, besides the wonderful details and loving craftsmanship, is the living emotion her characters possess. She has the uncanny ability to instill her mice figures with an Illusion of Life even if they aren't moving (she makes charming animations with them when she wants). They not only seem alive but also alive with genuine feeling and thoughts.

One of the things we spoke about was realism in making things like insects. How some people are  able to remarkably replicate nature itself (I pointed her to Graham Owen's work as an example). She, in her authentically funny way, said that she used to be interested in that sort of perfect imitation bug making but then found that...
"I just wanted to put a dress on it!"

Girl, I hear you!

Here's what she brought in my Goodie Box that you may find as interesting as I did:
• high quality 12mm glass eyes by Pat Secrist
• dark copper wire, finer even than a hair (sourced from motors)
• smallest seed beads (on earth) from... are you ready for this?!... her Great-Grandmother's dress. (I felt faint from her giving them to me. So precious. A gift to treasure.)
• real oak galls (!) maybe from the very forests surrounding her house?!
• vintage flower pistils in several colors
• the box even features a cameo of Mouseland mice!
• beautiful array of beige natural materials; opium poppy pods, antique veiling, flax, and wasp paper (the delicate color variants come from what the wasps have eaten and spit out during nest construction, it was explained.)
• vintage trims
• striped fine twine that is used for fly tying to make centipede speckled legs. (She mentioned what a fantastic resource fly tying suppliers can be! like Montana Fly Co.)
• packet of vintage specimen pins (original Emil Arlt Elephant #2 to be precise--finest pins ever made) the kind one would have used to display mounted insects. But I love the simple paper wrap they came in just as much! It reads "Made in Austria" on one side and looks terrifically 1930's era as well.
• package of frilly faux eyelashes that she recommends for use as insect antennae (great notion!)
• preserved sea foam green lotus leaves (her favorite color)
Thank you, for these wonderful things and the thoughtfulness with which they were prepared and carried all this way.
In addition to showing her the Halfland sets and puppets, I got to share Dare Wright's Lona (my most seminally inspiring and beloved work of art), talked about projects, told some personal stories, talked about people we have in common, had our lunch, showed her all the fairy finds made for my downstairs neighbor girls over the last couple years (above, she's enjoying the fairy shoes in the light), and gave her some woad. (You know, she needed woad! I know she did.)

All that in about 2.5 hours?! How is that even possible?? We wish we lived nearer. It would be incredible to share more, talk more, cross-pollinate our creativity. But until that happens, we'll have to be satisfied with a rare visiting, every now and again.

Maggie, you are amazing. Love you.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Yanu I was going to meet you

 I love revealing the paper puppet casts from their Ultracal molds. It's the coolest thing to have something that you sculpted in clay be reproduced over and over in another material. You know what I'm saying?!
In order to get this film done I have completely given up trying to make proper armatures opting instead for savage twists of wire crammed into the casts quickly enough so I can't protest my doing it. Ooo-rah. I use almaloy and steel of various weights. Then I wrap with sports tapes and yarn. I add bones made from split drinking straws and fix the finished armature inside the cast shells with masking tape.
Then I start back-filling the voids between the armature and the skin of the pupp. I use foam, taped in, or any sort of junk I may find handy, like wood shapes or strips of old woolen sweaters. Once the two halves are filled, I seam them together into one figure again with... masking tape!

Then it's a matter of finishing the sculpture by building up with foam and more masking tape until the character is ready to be finished with wings, hair, paint, shading, etc. Above lower right you can see the beginning of Yanu's wing installation.
Clips of white faux fur are glued down to cover the join and to add moth like texture. Additional skin detailing can be done with thick gel mediums, allowed to dry over the wall furnace pilot, then hit with matte medium on top. On the right you can seeYanu drying next to a small mermaid Kyra puppet in progress.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Black Bird Wing Singing

Finished black crow wing held up to nearly finished Tarn puppet in a bag for size check.
Top Row: Plugged tubing into fitted socket built into crow half of puppet. Folded it to rest comfortably against the crow's body. Spread it out, added multi-strand wire supports and padded out the main arch with tape wraps. Filled in the spaces with masking tape pieces on both sides, like a membrane. (Bonus peek upper left; puppet's finished last long hair strands being held in place with pins until fixative matte medium dries. Successful hair is successful!)

Middle Row: painted black, the expandable wing armature is checked for fit. Using a foam core board, I pinned the fully opened wing down and began adding rows of feathers with glue (and pins until dry.)  I was careful to choose the sides of feathers that corresponded to the side of the wing I was covering, top side for outside and under side for inside. As the course of feathers had to become smaller toward the top edge, I began to get comfortable with shaping and trimming down real feathers without them falling apart.

Bottom Row: On and on the feathers were applied course by course, from bottom edge to top, letting glue dry on each row before removing the pins and beginning the next row. This was done to both sides of the wing until all feathers were glued firmly in place and all pins were removed.

The finished wing can be opened all the way and folded up, as if at rest, next to the body. There will never be a sequence where this character will use her wing to fly but it will be nice to have the option of her kind of rustling herself enough to express an emotional response to the action. And when she's unconscious, it'll be a nice option for her wing to spread open on the ground, if it looks good in the moment.

I was utterly surprised at how natural and life-like the wing moved and looked when done. It was pure pleasure making it this way.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

What in Tarn-ation?! Part 2 (nine years later)

Continuing the story of how the Tarn puppet was made. Once the animatable puppet figure was completed, I drew a line down the middle-ish to see how I might want to divide the human and crow halves for finishing. I began the human side with a coat over the paper of a pale portrait pink skin tone. After the skin was shaded and detailed, she seemed so shockingly nude! (see last post about her). I didn't want the puppet's nudity to be all the audience saw as that wasn't really an important feature about the character. I did want her to be clearly human in form on that half of her, but needed a mitigation of color/texture into the crow feathers as well.

Opted to make her a sheer black lace dress that followed her body curves but looked like a comfortable night gown as you'll see. I had thrown these scraps of lace away three times as I rarely use lace in 1/2L (except for spider's webs). So this dress is made from the black half of spider's webs. I used straight pins to hold the painted and stiffened lace down while the glue dried. (The "crow in flight" over her bikini line appeared on its own from using random lace pieces. Nice!) Lower right, I finished off the hem with painted unraveled crochet pieces that I further shredded and stiffened with tons of matte medium. She's been through a long rough ride, you may recall from the story. You can even see the cut on her human calf starting to bleed a bit there.

Her crow half was slowly covered in black feathers, glued on in rows, over the shape built into the pupp. Our new kitten was thrilled that I had decided to bring out a big box full of feathers just for her to have fun with. How nice of me. Ahem. I had to box up the whole pupp and supplies each night to keep the marauder from damaging them. Lower left shows how I found the kitten inside that "secure" box one day! Oy.
Random images from the making the character's face. Dear people, these gorgeous red hand-blown glass eyes were purchased for this use over 20 years ago in New York! Can you believe that?! I used a component of a plastic spine to create the white sclera for the human side (upper right), adding red wool fiber to make them bloodshot and coating the cornea with a non-toxic pendant gel. Her lids are wired for slight facial expression.You may notice I use 4-way stretch fabric as a skin under-layer where motion may be an issue.
The fixed puppet had to be cut apart and expanded to increase her range of movement. Here you see me holding her legs open with elastic while papering over that configuration. The middle shows how the back of her neck was opened (it will be covered under layers of feathers and won't show at all) so that she can curve the head over with chin down gracefully (not shown). Right, is how the pupp looked inside her safety box a she was forming. Cool.
Fingers and toes were extended with papier mache and individuated for positioning. Nails were made from flower punches of vellum cut into petals and glued into place.

One of my favorite things in All of Halfland is how I dirtied up the sole of her human foot with chalks, fixed with matte medium, to imitate the state mine are always in. I paid close attention to how the blackness collects depending on how the body weight lands. Tarn's human foot is always barefoot like my own and so having her's filthy too is very telling about creatures like us. Thrilled about this detail.
It was weird to cut into a puppet in order to fabricate a wound that is part of the tale. I added several coats of blood like colors and bleed effects (upper left). She arrives at the cottage with the wound exposed. And has it bandaged by Rana the rest of the film. I made a linen cuff for that that covers the cut that can be added or taken away depending on what scene needs to be shot. Upper right shows the matte medium drying around her toe nails.

Her crow leg needed more texture to balance the human side's lace so I wound it tightly with steel wire then added another course of thick thread in between those for even more. Painted all black, it'll do (lower right). The thigh of the heavy crow leg was covered with a ring of fine feathers held in place until dry.

Next post will show how her crow wing was made. It was probably the easiest thing made in Halfland, yet takes my breath away. Can't wait to show you.

Thanks for watching.

Friday, September 04, 2015

How To Get Crow's Feet

Answer, smile while you make a puppet.
I seem to have landed on a really strange method of puppet making. I describe it in the previous post(s) but thought a closer look into how the crow woman's human foot poses might better illustrate what the results are like.

Above, you see the single human foot in its two extreme poses from both inside and outside angles. The ankle flexes, the toes point and flex. Her metatarsal works when bent in place as if supporting the crouching weight of the character, (seen lower right below).
Far left above shows how her human leg will rest while she is riding the tortoise-hare horse.

What you see of these characters is not made via armature movement exactly but rather by using expandable metal mesh as part of the make up of the layers of skin. So far it holds up to positioning over and over. It will likely fail during intense animating but the Halfland movement style is almost a montage and the few seconds of screen time can almost be tied down with wire to hold if need be.

Funny to think that all these hours and effort will only be shown for brief moments, scant seconds in the end. I don't feel badly about that, instead elated, as if the glimpses into this imaginary world are not quite there to be fully examined.

Thank you for watching.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

A Rare Bird: Tarn Is Coming

 I deviated from my sketch for Tarn's human half face. Instead of having the bill be a nose with the mouth underneath, my hands went with keeping the beak a mouth and building out the jowls underneath. She also currently looks more happy on her human side than I had intended. We'll see how that gets handled shortly.

This is the puppet that was made over an unfinished clay sculpt with my bizarre finishing techniques. It's Bee-Zarre to see a new mythological creature coming to life for the first time. We've all seen mermaid and saytr hybrids with their halfway horizontal demarcations. And I've seen a lot of wonderful human to crow mash-ups, but never a creature divided in half vertically (upper right). Is that possible? Could the Halfland Tarn story be an entirely original new myth? I hope so.
This is a shot of the completed Tarn puppet in her prone unconscious state before further finishing took place. She only needs to be shown in this position and sitting upright astride her tortoise-hare horse holding the reins. Both extreme poses can be achieved via some pretty insane internal armature and skin rigging throughout the whole puppet.
Upper left shows the 8 layers of paper being cut open to release the original sculpt. Layers of torn paper and various types of flexible adhesives are used to mache puppet bodies into a single piece.  I go back and forth with tape and filler material to further finish the sculpt after the initial core is made.

Another layer of washi unifies the additions so I can see the new tighter sculpt. The interior of the puppets are made with multiple wire armatures, almaloy and steel (thanks for the demo of that style, Yuji), which is then further built out with odds and ends of woods shapes were firmness is in order or tightly crammed wool sweater strips (being shoved down her throat with scissors lower left) for volume.

Claws from a holloween crow were added to the puppet skin crow foot with masking tape later made into one joined piece with layers of washi and thick medium.

Next post: How to Get Crow's Feet

Monday, August 10, 2015

KYRA: Big and Small Scales


Catch up on the Kyra puppet making techniques, first the Nova Color Flex gel (a thicker, glossy version of my beloved Nova Color Matte medium) is layered with plant fiber paper from Japan directly into the mold of the small scale mermaid character.

The interior of two cast halves are lined with expandable metal mesh (initially placed with masking tape and then paper mache'd in) then joined together around wire armature and random felted wool stuffing (whatever was within reach from the couch).

The formed puppet was then given a base coat of burnt umber color before being refined with sports foam tape and other details like eye lids. Her eyes were tiny hand-blown glass doll eyes purchased in NYC for her over 20years ago (!)

The metal mesh makes her entire tail and fin poseable for smooth stop motion unfurling and swishing.

Her fine sequined circular swirling scale fabric (details below) was adhered to the puppet with tacky glue, held close to the surface with straight pins until dry.
I swear, I wasn't going to bother making the large Kyra puppet after the mold for the bulk of her torso (Shoulders, breasts, waist, and hips) were stolen several house moves back. But I felt frustrated that the small scale puppet, with very little facial detail, was all there would be if I didn't, and it was turning out well. So, the same method and materials was used on the surviving molds for the large sculpt of her. (Please see the original fully finished modeling clay sculpture here.)

In the process, after her facial details were altered to affect more Negro racial features than when she was initially conceived were added, I noticed that the plain plant fiber paper layer used to smooth out the additions was strikingly like several images in Leni Riefenstahl's masterpiece of a photographic essay called The Last of the Nuba. (The book is filled with extraordinary images that the important film director recorded while living with the remote Sudanese tribe in Africa between the years 1962 and 1969.)

I found that I have decided to work WITH the paper's natural handmade looking texture rather than trying to make the puppets look like living creatures. I want the entire production to clearly come across as made-by-hand from the grass to the bugs to the main characters living in the handmade world. So you see above lower right how I left the mottled umber base color as highlights to the rich brown/blue/black was in her shadows.

The large face will be finished with hair and shells and used for close-ups.
The large tail was finished in the same way as the small. The difference being that I used the 20+ years old clay sculpture as a base for the paper mache skin without first making a mold of any kind!! Upper left shows how I used (my essential) masking tape as a first course over the soft oil clay, with dust and all left on, and then built up about eight layers of mache skin, including one of expandable metal mesh, then more paper then paint.

Upper right shows the paper shell being sliced open, peeled back and the ancient clay sculpt being discarded forever. Next is the $80/yard (bought 1/4 yard which covered both scale of the puppet's tails exactly.) Middle right, shows some initial color tests with permanent marker. Bottom row, shows the large tail's metallic skin being glued and pinned on to dry over the low heat of our wall furnace's pilot light, where most things are set to dry out well. The ultramarine blue tinting on both puppets is just to get the color ball rolling and will be further developed with pale aquas and soft pretty blues as well. This tail piece will be used like a hand puppets at a live action real beach as the character's tail will be shown disappearing under the surf.

Next up to show you is progress on the finial mothman and crow woman pupps....

MAKE ALL THE PUPPETS AT ONCE!

A tumble of creatures coming to life; Tarn crow woman, Yanu the mothman, and Kyra the black mermaid (big and small) take shape in plant papers.

A violent need to get these puppets done has taken me over. I am currently building all remaining character puppets at the same time!

Things got wild. In the fury I ended up using flexible medium mache directly over the sculpts made decades ago--without the use molds of any kind. Would that work? Yes, it does! No one more surprised than me.

Stay tuned for details on the techniques that have emerged as my own signature stupid method. It involves...  Poseable Skin

Friday, August 07, 2015

It's a Set Up!

Showing you behind the scenes for the lighting set up on the cottage interior for the new banner image seen at the top of the site.

Key light: bay window wall taken out and an LED box light placed in the space. Fill light: simple work light with coat hanger rigged sheet of translucent acetate set up through the kitchen window.

Been taking lots of shots of Rana on set to begin to get a feel for what works.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

The 50th (and Final?) Party Bug!

I have been making bug puppets in-between other larger puppets, kind of like little palate cleansers.

This fellow started by a preserved leaf that became his body, twigs that became his legs by wiring into a foam body. His beak is a stem, his eyes are tiny natural seeds. He's bringing festive flowers to the wildly fun gathering.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Night Falls

A veil of Night slowly falls behind Rana's hat as she strolls beyond Halfland, just as Yanu affixes the lantern of the moon into the darkening sky.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Put the Petal to the Metal

As soon as the Urhu puppet was finished, I thought it might be good to see whether I could find a spot to set up the Desert Set to at least shoot some close-ups on the character for part of the trailer sequences. I took a few plastic storage bins to the closet-sized breakfast nook where I keep my sewing table because it had loads of windows and great light in the afternoons.

As I filled up most of the available floor space with this partial set up, there isn't enough space behind the tent to install a background sky and distant sand dunes. But I'm hoping to at least shoot something productive there. Hopefully, the entire Desert set can be set up later to the side of where the Main Cottage sits in a bedroom, sharing the Day portion of the sky after the bug party gets shot and is put away. Consider this a Desert holding pattern until the real shooting runway is cleared for take off. Worst case, I can transport the set up you see here to the actual beach for outdoor long shots. We'll see.
If I sit on the floor, I can scootch up close for some of the tighter shots, as long as I don't show anything behind the tent. The Dick Kaneshiro camera smooth-mover can rest along the edge of the boxes holding up the sand blanket for some of the panning.

Bases for the palm tree and tent were screwed in through the sand blanket into the plastic boxes with short screws to secure. Instruments and decorative posts were installed through cut holes in the blanket surface. Puppet was tied down via a heavy bracket screwed into the seat of him and then down into the set. Only his head, arm, and tail tip will need to move.

The sand blanket worked amazingly well overall. It's flexible, and yet not a single grain of sand comes loose, no matter how I drape and shape the cloth. I can dune it.

Saved and dried flowers, sorted by color, await being glued to the bottom of Urhu's robe and on the sands around him, symbolizing past thoughts.

Let's GO!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rendering Flowering Thoughts

Studied various plant types/structures for this important element in the film series. The thoughts needed to feel slightly Eastern, appear to work as a slim, vine-like plant to fit in the turban's tube rigging, and feel "potent", full of substance, as worthwhile thoughts should feel.


32 gauge steel wire was wrapped around glass beads to form the structures, each leaf a paper/glue and wire sandwich before being cut down to shape and attached. All wrapped with handmade paper, tufts of silk, cotton, and linen threads added to each pod, wire-filled crepe paper petaled flowers, one bloom for each cluster of burgeoning potential thoughts, were affixed tightly to enable some animated motion of opening once grown into place on Urhu' head. They will be detailed with color slightly and then finished in matte medium to keep the edges crisp while in use.
 How the rigging structure works under the turban.
Testing the turban with in-progress flowers.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Finish the Tail: Urhu's Scales Take On Color

After painting the black sequined fabric covered tail with Nova's Sun Gold, I slowly added layers of pattern and color in greens, yellows, and oranges. These were painted on in geometric shapes strongly at first (lower left), and then knocked down with a top layer of more gold (lower right).

I wanted the tail to be as beautiful as a serpent sage musician's living in the desert tail should be.

What won't be seen are the construction details above; Urhu has an open-able mouth complete with pose-able tongue, but will likely only appear with his mouth closed as much as possible. On the right, you can seen the rigging for how the wire plants will emerge from beneath his turban. Made from a saved piece of plastic packaging and segments of vinyl tubes. This head hump provided structure for the wrapped fabric turban while ensuring there'll be three open passages for guaranteed Thought growing. After additional bundles of wire were tied onto the bottom edge of the puppet's head, the entire fixture was secured with wire strands. And lastly, lower left, his twisting golden vertebra will indeed always be hidden beneath his robes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finish the Tale: Urhu Arrives

Well, Wonderful Folks still following along... here he is, in all his serpent sage-y spiritually-healing erhu-playing musicianal glory, ready for the climatic scenes of the entire Halfland folktale series. Please notice the colors, very specific to this character, a marigold/Indian yellow/apricot confection, set off by the greens of his tail and growing things.

Notice too his turban ornamented with seed pods and his thoughts blooming as the music plays. He is as naked as a reptile can be, but only human in flesh on the left side of face and body. His hair painted wires for positioning, mixed with preserved grass and roots. The necklaces around his neck are a sort of long, slender pine cone, suggestive of both serpentine scales and plants, that I collected while they were still green and supple. Rounding them into shape, I allowed them to dry several months before preserving them with green and gold tinted medium to ornament the bare chest of the puppet.
His eyes, neither closed nor open, yet both. His smile neither happy nor knowing, blissful fool. His life is one of Silence and Music. Of Deserts and Oasis, barren yet constantly growing, as our own thoughts do, in the fertile gardens of our innermost minds. To emerge from within, extending ever outward from us, for all to see. Aren't all our thoughts growing somewhere, petals blossoming into flower, as they reach their full maturity?

Please welcome Urhu into Halfland, and stay tuned as the next posts will show more of this character's finishing and desert set up.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Take a Seat! The Chairs of Halfland

The fabulous film critic Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting (how's that for a Perfect Perfect Perfect name?!) had a wonderful essay last week on the importance of chairs, yes, chairs, in filmic storytelling. It's another example of Tony's thoughtful attention to important details of film today that I found inspiring.

When considering how I did in the chair department with Halfland, I have to say, pretty good! Here's a round-up of my choices: As always, thanks for watching.
Rana's damask, friendly easy chair in the cottage is a wine warm softie place to sit by the warmth of the fire and sew a bit. Is it alive? Or just almost alive?


For cottage guests, there is always the charitable chair table, half chair and half table. A real crowd pleaser.

On the porch, a wisteria vine has grown into a comfy spot on which to weave during the summer moments of Rana's days. Half living vine, half furniture, check and check.


The Writing Mouse, Quire's, smaller house has a couple of seats as well; one in which to contemplate the day's events by his tiny fire, the other to work at writing down his wisdoms gleaned from the roots living around him.

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