Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I took a day to design and illustrate an instructional tag to accompany our puppet card this year. I am really happy with the way it turned out. Taking the FREEDOM to simply play for that many hours, which I don't normally allow myself when working on a deadline project, allowed me to learn new exciting texturing techniques within Photoshop that I really dig! I will use what I learned doing this in other projects!

In a display of brinkmanship that made even me blush, I was frickin' STILL MAKING THESE ELVES AT A CHRISTMAS EVE EVENT LAST NIGHT. Can you believe it?! Himself had to go and find the people sitting in the audience listening to the music at the show as I would finish each one! It was a Hail-Mary-Last-Ditch-Effort to get these very time-sensitive fellows to their destinations before Arbor day! We did it though. With his help, I was able to complete the 80 I set out to make (plus 5 more for special blog/crafter friends I thought might enjoy it too). It was either the elves or me at one point. But I'm pleased to report to you that I was able to pull up enough grit and tenacity to get the job done. Which means that after this the Halfland cottage will be easy.

One of the best parts of making these was the absolute enchantment I experienced in watching a woman I didn't even know sitting next to me at the Christmas event. When I gave her the last elf, an extra I was saving for my craft scrap book, she was so delighted to have it, it was completely adorable to see. She giggled and played with it endlessly and was so captivated by its creativity and old-fashioned charms (a touch from another century as another good friend kindly put it). I was overjoyed to get to see the woman and her husband's reactions. I saw him walking around with it later, holding it carefully with the tag so it was unharmed, as if it were a treasure. Wow, what more could we want to have happened?!

In case you hadn't received your own Christmas card from us this year, I thought you might like to see what I've been working on (and on and on) for several weeks. Our first fully-articulated, paper-puppet elf to brighten your jolly holidays.

I laughed. I cried. I had real fun. I had my own personal elf hell. I loved making them quite a lot at times. And I was shocked at how loooooong it took. All these emotions swinging at 5-minute intervals. Here again, the link to the "Making of" slide show that tells the tale of this Christmas 2006 elfin friend of ours, Webster.


  1. Animate him!

    Animate him!

    Animate him!

    I wish I could.

  2. Can't wait to get it!

    HAHAHA Oh My God You used a dictionary for the body?!?!

    You rock

  3. Hi Ale, if you haven't got 'em by now--I don think u will! Yours went out in the first wave as you are soooo very far away from LA! I'm going to make one more for my own keeping and hell, I'll cut you up one too! Let's go another round!

    Yep, I used real dictionary pages from a Funk & Wagnalls (A MUCH BETTER NAME THAN WEBSTER!!) New Comprehensive International Dictionary of the English Language (Deluxe Reference Edition) A-PL!! Hee hee. So which is better to call the elf, Funk or Wagnall?!

  4. poor ale! the post office always eats his gifts! i think he missed the round w/ sven's dvds, too. :(

    shelley, webster truly rocked. the amount of work that went into him & the card is almost inconceivable, but i love it! (i was particularly enamoured of your lettering, of course!)

    and THANKS for the flickr set, too! i love to see the process!

  5. Aw, thanks, Gretchin! I'm so glad you could tell how much time they took--I sure didn't have any idea when I started them. I thought they'd be simple, childlike. I take it as high compliment about the typography coming from such a fine calligraphy artist as yourself! Thank you.

    We'll see what we can do about Alejo's Mailjo. Anybody know a good carrier pigeon service?

  6. Anonymous6:17 PM

    Shelley- Your puppet was/is definately a highlight of my season! You are so talented! He will be cherished for years to come and proudly displayed each Christmas season in my home. Thank you again for the great card!

  7. Holy Moly, Chris! Thank you so much! Paul and I are overwhelmed by people's appreciation and kindness!!! A very joyful new year to the whole CJ and Buster family!

    We better get thinking about NEXT YEARS'!! hee.

  8. I know what you should do for next year!

    Work as hard as you did this year on ALL the little things you sent out to people, only instead of mailing them out, make a film with them! And call it Halfland! It can be a gift for thousands of people rather than just one at a time!

    Only half serious of course, I know it's important to you to do this. But I can just imagine if you would apply yourself to Halfland as hard as you did to this little elf fellow. You'd be unSTOPPABLE I tell ya!

  9. Hi Mike, you are echoing my own mind. What you are writing here has some very valid truth to it and it isn't lost on me, I think it ALL THE TIME, way before this year's card.

    Hope it's ok to discuss this a minute? When I started this blog, I cut off many many other art projects in order to funnel my time and energy into 1/2L. believe me!!! And yet you're also right, I do feel I need to make hand-made cards for people as they are our gifts/sharing for the season and special events in friend's lives.

    I will work this out. I know it now. I'll find my way to work in the right direction or I'll need to stop trying to do Halfland on any sort of schedule. Likely a mixture of both. Either way, I am more certain of the film than ever and more certain of my vision and ability to make it. The next post will be about a few of the new little notions I've had for it lately.

    Thank you, Mike, for being my friend.

  10. Hey, I love the idea of you animating your puppet!!! :D

  11. Would yu mind if I used the Puppet Idea?

  12. Any ideas for it, Jeff? What should the little guy do?

    And Ben, I would be delighted and thrilled of course for you to use the puppet idea!! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

    It is kind of fun to make paper puppets, I have to say.

  13. I don't know, he should do something jaunty....something funky...maybe a little disco :P He actually already has so much character, with his little smirk and dance, I don't think you'd have to do much....I'd be happy just seeing him bop around :)

  14. Shell! Guys!
    Good news!

    I just got the puppet :D :D :D
    I'm loooovin it!
    So glad the post office guys didn't like it as much as I do! :P

    Thanks so much for taking the time and work to do's probably one of the most creative presents I was ever given.

    And the little card w/ instructions?! OMG! You rule!

    Oh, and if you don't hurry up on the animation, I'll have to do it myself!

    (! counter on this comment: 12)

  15. Dear Shelley
    I am in awe, of the time consuming effort it took you to make these elves! When I received mine in the mail I stood there in amazement at the intricate details, and the hours of cutting, and creating! What a task of loving friendship to create these works of wonder! I love my little red elf and he is standing at my desk without ever going in the Christmas garage box!
    Thank you very much for thinking of me and sending me your work of art!! I am delighted!


  16. This is so great, Corey. Now that I have your mailing address in your beautiful France, I can send you hand-made things now and again.

    Thank you for your appreciative note, we are so touched!

  17. Woo hoo, Ale!

    We have a vote to make 'em dance. Do you know of a great song for a paper elf to get down to?

  18. Thanks Shelley for letting me use the Idea, I'm thinking of doing a cross between a Paper Puppet and Automaton!

    Good music for your Paper Puppet would be 'Play that funky music whiteboy', Not sure if that is racist, If it is then don't use it!

  19. Sure enough, Ben, but you know this kind of puppet is probably an old, old, time-honored idea. This kind of articulated puppet may be known as a "Pantin". What makes me think that is two separate online sources ( and ( for these had the word in their title. But when I Google it the term doesn't show up as a puppet at all. ?.

    I think that 'Play that funky music whiteboy' is an absolutely great idea, not at all racist by the way, and I think Webster gonna get down with his bad self soon!

  20. Anonymous12:22 AM

    Not sure if I mspelt it wrong, Phil Dale Did a Blog post on 'Automata'. Good you like the Idea of Play that funky music White Boy.

    Hee Hee

  21. You spelled it right, Ben. Automata. I love it too. I did read Phil Dale's post about it and visited the link he had to the genius artist who makes witty wooden ones. Making them from paper and wooden kits is one of my husband's favorite hobbies. If you type in automata in my blog's search, you'll find the posts with the links to all our best sources for those kits, if you're interested. And Jaime Zollars has all the automata site links in the world I think at her great blog, Paper Forest.

    Best of luck with your film!

  22. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Thanks Shelley, Went to my Local art Store and bought som estuff for a Paper Doll, like yours but it wouldent Move.
    We shall see tomorrow.

  23. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Hi everyone, just to say visit a little page or two of things I have collected on the great animator Paul Berry.

  24. Hi Ben, Thanks for highlighting Paul Berry and his work. I hadn't realized he had died.


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