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.


  1. Amazing! I think this is the puppet I love the most among the other ones you have been creating for Halfland.

    1. HI, Really?! Cool! When I made her as you see in this post, I had an uhh ohh moment where I thought, "that's really weird!" I shouldn't have made such a weird creature. I really had total second doubts. But then I thought I should finish the film because it might be more interesting once shot with lighting and effects, etc.

      I'm just about to follow the sketch a bit and add some soft gradation between the crow and human face and to make the beak black, even on the human side. See the sketch in one of the thumbnail links below the post?

      We'll see what happens when she is utterly finished very soon!



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