Saturday, September 29, 2007

Stand by for Proper Photos

This cottage is coming out so wonderfully that I want to bite the purchase bullet and get a little digi camera to get back to showing the daily progress here. So much has been going on that I've not been able to share.

The eave painting took two tries, but the second attempt really worked. I'll detail what materials made the difference. There have been pea-sized terra cotta flower pots filled with red geraniums to hang outside the successfully-scaled tiny Tudor window. I bought a set of micro lights that I'll be attaching to the cottage interior to make for cozy night time illumination. So heartwarming, that image. Peels of light coming from underneath the front door, with it's handmade moulded glass doorknob! Oh yeah, lots to show!

I've also worked out the shot sequence for the Halfland reveal. We follow the maus up the hilly trail to his house, all the details come into focus as we approach. At the door about to turn the iron key, we notice Rana's giant hand encouraging the mouse to come closer to her. The camera/our POV swings around slowly, uncovering the fact that Rana is not a woman as we assume. As the full composition of the set comes into frame we see from her crouched position that her legs are that of a goat's and that her cottage is dramatically larger than the maus'.

I've also been picturing the Time Frog's micro scene too.

Image story boards, using the sculpts, to follow.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Three Faces of Eaves

OOOooo, pushed some long hours and finished Paul's book, now back to Happy Halfing! I had a brain wave for how to get the stenciled decoration onto the tiny mouse house's roof overhang. I took newspaper to the house and cut out two pretty exact-sized strips, one to fit each side of the overhang, or eaves, let's call it. Yeah, that's it, eaves. Right, I measured these strips pretty exactly and then re-sized and simplified in Photoshop with the photocopy filter, the actual art, off the actual image, of the actual building, onto those pretty exact strip sizes. The results are pretty exact-to-size printed templates that I can cut out of sticky film, such as clear contact paper, and use to paint said ornaments onto my eaves scaled pretty exactly. Cool.

I also stopped into a great old style model train shop yesterday in hopes of finding something small that I could use to make a little wrought iron railing for the Maus' balcony. The fella who knew everything in the shop, looked for quite a while and actually came up with this little N scale hairpin fence out of plastic for $3.50 that I was happy to buy and have been abusing with mangled modifications and paint ever since. It'll work though. Thanks, Sam! (A George Pal fan)

Whilst there, I picked up some fab landscaping materials from the German, Busch Modellspielwaren, a big 'ol roll of their Gelande Teppich Extra hoch grass mat in wildgras meadow, actually. It was pricey, $28 bucks, but I can stretch it far and it will really add a lot of realism to the root area of the tree, where a great deal of story action takes place. Added some Woodland Scenics field grass, course turf in soil, next-size-up stones from what I usually find in floral supply shops, and dark green underbrush to the 1/2L. nature arsenal.

I've also finished paving the chalet's stone chimney. And, in the most inspired misappropriation of objects to date, I found a diamond-shaped square mesh net bag with the precise scale of the upstairs tudor window. I'll paint it rusted/black and adhere it when dry to a piece of clear plastic food tray, cut to size, using clear window paint. Taaa Daaa.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Plastered the timbers and rocks into the little cottage. Glad I did it, it's going to be cute. Added the beginnings of stone edged flower beds and log stairway on the dirt path leading to it up the hill. (Pencil included for scale, Pencil... Writing Mouse. Get it?) Definitely going to paint the roof overhang with designs as shown in previous post. That way, when the camera approaches the house with the Mouse we'll see this great detail. (photo taken webcam on loan from Darkstrider.)

From the character development department
I'm continuing to blend human forms with the creature's animal nature even further. Evidenced by this further sketch for the Yanu Moth Man character. I'm thinking of changing his previously human flesh color to match whatever wing color I choose. Another addition is that his body will be marked with real wing patterns. I always knew Yanu would have a tattoo of some kind because part of him is based on the 5,000 year old ice man, found frozen in the Caucasus mountains was it? They believe he was simply traveling through the mountains as was common in that epoch and was overtaken by severe cold and remained preserved through all the centuries. I remember he had fur and leather straps still on his body and strange bar markings on the back of his legs. Yanu's butterfly wing markings on his skin are not meant to be tattoos, more like naturally occurring insect patterns on his skin. I like the ornamentation for him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Timber! Looking Asconce

The tiny cottage is stripped down to the bone, taped off, ready for a slather of plaster over the stones and newly installed Tudor timber in the morning.

I bought two wittle dollhouse candle sconces and some other handmade glass items ($1.69, Darice Timeless Minis; Taiwan) with real glass hurricane chimneys and a disk that can be mirrored with silver-leaf (to amplify their candlelight.) I plan to install them on each side of the hollow/oven/fireplace on the tree. Their scale isn't big enough as they were, but I plan to build appropriate-sized bases for them and add a larger glass container under the hurricane glass that can hold either lamp oil or pillar candles. (barely seen mock up, to the left of the store bought sample.

Lots been happening in Halfland; finishing some important print projects, Beginning to design my first website, gave my first specially tailored artwork workshop over the weekend for a couple that turned out to be very successful, etc. But still snuck (a more naughty past tense of sneaked) and working even further on the Maus Haus.

I could have called the mini cottage good enough but there's just *that much* more I could do to make it sing as the cutest thing. I'm going for it.

Also tomorrow, I plan to mix a cup of anchoring cement up and pour it into the fissure I made in The Hub. I was testing the assembly of the roof beams and found that the wiggle it takes to insert them was damaging the regular plaster. The hardier cement should work, if not, I can dig it out and use expandable canned foam (the kind that I've used to seal the gaps around our home's windows) Once sealed, it would perhaps help to be a more flexible material like that.

Art is LIfe Quote:
"When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take -- choose the bolder."
--W.J. Slim

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Lubbin' the Hub

Update: The plaster hub shown here ultimately failed, not strong enough to withstand use. Have resorted to bold use of hardware instead. Search the blog for "Roof" (upper left corner) for new developments. Thank you for visiting. SN 11/09 Don't ask me how I knew this would work. Having my hands work with my mind standing by watching is the answer. This afternoon I wrapped each of the roof beams in thin plastic wrap as a release agent, mixed a good batch of plaster to a whip cream consistency and slowly poured it into the papier mache box hub at the top. When curing I removed the tube support that was holding the peak up and let the plaster harden that way. Once done I pulled the beams out gently and removed the plastic from them. Now I have a custom "lock" that securely holds the roofline precisely where I want it and yet allows total flexibility for disassembling the roof in whole or in part! Brill.
I also re-worked the cottage's front porch. I re-shaped it with curves and extended it over and into the tree roots for more interactivity between tree and house. I taped pieces of card board together to make the pattern. This will be used to create the exact shape in wooden slats. More cedar lathing strips glued together I think! Back to the Deeps, Home Deeps.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Answer, the Corbel

Thankful to have the Darkstrider Patrol of Joy Webcam to use *and* I can't wait to photograph how cute this little cottage looks with something that can capture even better light and detail.

Stole a few minutes to craft the little hausey. I tinted the sanded walkway and the face of the house with my favorite thing, diluted arcrylic paint and watercolor. I had my first successful Dremel© experience and carved little wooden corbels to support the porch cover, seen far right, got the webcam up real close, under the roof overhanging slats. I carved groovy grooves and notched the mini shutters, which are about the size of a quarter when put together. The house measures 5" (12.7cm) exactly from floor to peak. Painted the chimney white with rusted iron chimney pots on top.

Next time, the door, hardware; hinge and latch for the shutters, and a little garden.

On the slats seen above right, I may be painting a detail like the one seen here on the lovely historic Culver Hotel in Culver City. I pass by this beautiful building often when I'm out and always love the way the roof overhang is decorated. The only other example of such an ornamented overhead detail I know of are the wonderful painted animals decorating the beams featured in Citizen Kane. (image grabbed off a travel site).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Haus Headway

Small Progress is being made on the Haus du Maus.
Tasha came by today and made further great progress on her model house. She wants to come tomorrow and next week as well! I hope she does because this house of hers is so wonderful, I'd love to see her get it all done and have a little art opening for it where her mom works. If she does continue to come here to work, I'll have to stop hovering and "helping" as I have been so that I can get my own work done! She's rolling with her project now, well under way, I can let her go to it by herself... but it is so fun to watch!

I've finished shingling the tiny Writing Mouse house. I've given it a Cape Cod-ian stone half-facing, beams, roof joist ends, and a cemented sand pathway to the door. Still left is to finish the chimney and add corbels to the porch cover support. It'll need landscaping and a garden archway made of curved twigs. Handmade door, shutters, and windows too. A tiny railed balcony upstairs, overflowing with paper, inks, and flower pots will complete the exterior.

I don't know why I'm devoting time to this little element at this stage. I need to get back to bigger blocks of time spent doing more bang-for-buck chores. Although, I did hold my nose and dive into cementing the stem joins on the tree while I had the tub of Flexall open for the little cottage. I was delighted to find it was far easier than I had imagined! I didn't tint it first or trim the hot hotglue on the clusters. I just painted the whipcream-like fluff right over where the branch and leaf stems meet. It was like painting a tree into form. Like using a brush to create a 3D tree in the air, I can't explain it. It was fun. It is time consuming though. It took about 30 minutes to cover two or three branches worth on all sides. I still have to paint them over when they are dry. But all in all, a whole lot less crazy than I thought it would be.

When I was last at the mailbox I picked up a surprise package from The Scarlet Stars for my birthday last week. Sven wrote about his experience at the recent PLATFORM animation festival and I was intrigued by his descriptions of the many ingenious installations there. Now I have a dvd of the Lightning Doodle Project to watch and enjoy in addition to an original b-day drawing by Sven and a very special two-gocco screen "Letters" print from Gretchin.
Big thanks to Sven and Gretchin and everyone else for the happy wishes!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

TashCam 2000

Today (and next Monday) were set aside for my young friend, Tasha to visit and enjoy doing some art for herself. She started a fun project here over two years ago (as seen in lower left corner!) and was every bit as excited still to pick up the project today. When she started this, she looked like a pretty little girl but the young woman who came to visit today is a total knock out! It's a Gigi moment.

She's making a wonderfully creative, model designer house in impeccable, imaginative detail! (A sampling of rooms above) This thing is soooo cute! (I HAVE GOT to hook her up with the masterful model set maker Hila!) She cleverly re-purposes things for the miniature rooms, like a seashell as bathroom sink complete with a flattened grommet drain! Be sure and make out the hand-made red wire coat hanger on the heart-shaped peg in the kid's room, lower right) It's pure delight to watch her "problem solve" to create the things she needs. An old khaki sweater become the second floor's Berber carpet when stapled on a board. Pretty patterned papers become adorable wallpapers when glued on with stickflat glue. She's so into it... her enthusiasm is catching.

IN HALFLANDIAN NEWS: I've continued to work on the Maus Haus, making and adding three ADDITIONAL batches of micro shingles! Yeesh. Planning to plaster the facade and create the garden gate and pathway to the front door in the next few days.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Oh, Joist! Shingle Dingle!

Pictured on the bottom are rough hewn painted shingles mingling in a big pile. Yesterday, I drilled holes in the bottoms of the beams so they would snuggle over the dowel pegs of the wall panel locks to stay in place. I started sawing the redwood lathing strips down to size to attach them to the solid beams. It's really exciting to see the wooden support structure filling in the roof. These'll act as underment for the cedar shingles, a few seen in preview at top. The roof is engineered to come apart in sections for shooting.
I took the absolute thinnest of the shim shingle pieces and cut them down in even more diminutive scale for the Writing Mouse's chalet, painted them a bit darker chocolate, and began gluing them onto the mini cottage roof, porch cover, and gabled dormer window. I hope to finish the entire chalet soon. It won't be fully fleshed out and featured, inside, etc., until subsequent Halfland stories are filmed.

Now we're getting into illegal levels of fun in creating this world. The cottage(s) are looking so storybook adorable and I'm having a blast working on them. The redwood lathing strips were super inexpensive, only 88¢/8' length, and they cut as easily as butter, even with a dull saw. I didn't think it was possible, but I may love Rana's cottage roof even more than I do the tree! It's the perfect texture detail compliment.

I had a new 1/2L. idea as the roofing was coming together. I'm going to show small, tender, roots growing through the joist slats from sod growing ontop of one side of the house, over the kitchen area.
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