Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fab, Rick!

My fairygodintern, Sophie began the task of blending the Answer Tree's branches with the hot glued-on leaf stems yesterday. She used flexible cement to make a start on the hundreds of mini sculptures needed. (will you look at that concentration! Love it!)

Proud to say, I just completed the book design/production project that I've been working on since January. It's finally off to the printer today. I'm gratified with the way it has turned out so far. and look forward to showing it to you when it's finished. The author came here to make watercolor illustrations to accompany her text. I also completed my first website design last week and my partner, Young Ron, is coding it for the next few weeks. I've got only collateral project deadlines, for these two projects, still on my plate. I've got to design and produce a print campaign to launch the website next month and give the book's author some further marketing direction as well. But after that, Paul and I are toying with the idea of my not taking on design projects for the next 6 months to see whether I can push through some major progress on Halfland. We'll see if it's possible to swing this financially. (Lawd knows I don't waste money on grooming!)

Yay, yesterday my lovely intern, Sophie, came over to work. I got her started (Sucka!--No seriously, Soph, thank you for this help.) on finishing the leaf installation by covering over the blobs of hot glue, that were applied with with blobs of FlexAll cement. The hundreds of blobs will then be painted to match the bark. (and any errant cement on leaves will be magically painted to look like natural outdoor-schmutz-on-leaves.)

Whilst Sophie was doing that I continued to sculpt a lip on the sides of the stream bed out of twisted sheets of newspaper and masking tape. Then we both took Sophie-torn pieces of brown paper and started machéing it into the set. I noticed that the lip was working but that the cello was too fragile to hold up to much animating. My latest brain storm for solution is now to use shades of shiny iridescent sheer pale blue and aqua fabric, wired on the edges to conform to the stream shape, covered by the lip as it rolls down. Made a few frame test with fabric I had on hand to test the effect. I miss the gloss of the plastic but am loving the material effect even more.

Also on board, Intern Sophie's big sister, Tash, joined us in the shop for the afternoon. She finished a wonderful colorful large canvas she'd been working on here. She completed it and took it home, still wet, to hang on her bedroom wall. Way to go, Tash.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Depth Charge

I'm getting a kick out of how successful the sense of depth is from placing (a test latex skin of) the Kyra Mermaid pupp under the layers of water blue-painted cellophane stream.

This is going to work. I'll be adding a maché lip to the entire stream now (perfect timing!) that will serve to keep the cello layers in the bed as they're pulled (as Mike suggested) and shaped. I'll run swaths of translucent blue paint along the cello water lengths on the reverse so that the topside remains reflective/shiny. I'll paint the stream bed (as Mr. Nick suggested) sand color to contrast with what will be the chocolate brown skin of the puppet. Animating this way should be enough to suggest the character is traveling the creek. Very excited.

Title Concept:
Sampling of folk art cutouts stolen (um, found via) great beauty collector blogs like Ulla's and Meggie's.
Teased a while back, these are examples of a paper cut folk art called, Rimbamelles. I plan to make simple silhouette shapes of the characters in Halfland arranged on a tree shape, folded in half. My lovely actress, Jessica, will be seen cutting out the shapes on folded paper and opening each character as an intro to their vignette in the film. And the opened, finished Rimbamelle will serve as art for the closing credits.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Art Bonus: Crewel Bird 2008

Meet "Binny Hen"
This year's Crewel Bird is one of my favs. I'm enjoying giving a little more animation to the stances and giving a little more wit to my characters.

April 19th is my mother's birthday. Every year for her present I make her a bird (she loves little birdies) of some kind out of hand-made woolen pom poms. (Crewel is the type of loosely twisted, worsted [woolen] yarn used for tapestry and embroidery.) It's a play on the pun of cruel and crewel, as in they are meant to be so cute that it hurts.

Continuing the theme of gently ribbing (as I do) her current involvement in the world that is Officially Accepted and Organized Religion (She's happy--so hey), this year's bird is, "Binny Hen" (A play on well known Christian Evangelist, Benny Hinn--I crack myself up like an egg!)

She's definitely off to somewhere in a big hurry in her kerchef, holding her (good) book under wing. I like the method of making the legs out of steal wire and wrapping the form with tapestry wool yarn. The wet-felted wool pom poms are awaiting being made into character in the background. The eyes are painted glass yellow beads.)

Happy Birthday, Mom! (I'll put her in the mail to you soon!)


Friday, April 18, 2008

News Splash!

Untitled from herself on Vimeo.

I'm testing out an idea for animating the flowing water. I'm testing the idea with layers of blue cellophane affixed to the set and made to cascade by running a hand along the course. Very simple yet effective I think.

I've been thinking about the water in the stream in Halfland. Many options. My choice was based on ease of animation, my solution requires a simple caress of the layers of cellophane between each click, and the lack of mess, I didn't want to lug in jugs of smelly hair gel to stock the stream bed--not with three Halfland exploring cats.

I also like this solution's hand-crafted look, just a little sparkle of light and sheer color to suggest moving water.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Speed Maché: Would You Like Paper or Plastic?

Brown Grocery Bag layer: DONE! (photo on right barely shows pathway from cottage door to stream in red resin paper with gutter mesh underneath to support puppet tiedowns later.)(photo taken in pre-dawn darkness @5am)

I made a big push yesterday and covered THE WORLD'S LARGEST PINATA aka; the rest of the entire set, in a second layer. This one was torn up brown grocery bags and is the strongest used so far, by far. It took a lot more starch to soak up enough to make the spongy thick stock smooth down. Now that it's dry, I can tell how much dramatically stronger it is than the thinner layers. I plan to make the next two sonic-speed layers with two colors of newsprint and then finish off the set with another heavy weight coat like this one, perhaps with plaster instead of starch. That'll do, Donkey.

Then comes texture and paint!! woo.

I loved doing all this maché yesterday. I only once had the "I'm insane to be doing this" thought (after about 7 hours) and that was only because I was looking ahead to all the work left to do. When I came back to what I was doing it was a pleasure in and of itself. When Intern Sophie said yesterday how much time flew and how much fun this was, I told her that this was the boring part so, if she liked this, later was going to be off the charts!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Meet The Intern

I am so blessed to have Sophie as the First Halfland Intern! She and her sister, Tash, have been coming to the shop for a few years when they could fit a visit in to make some art. When they were here a few weeks ago helping me file some papers, I "casually" (Ha! More like laid in wait like a tiger) mentioned that "If she *might* be interested... I would be open to having her intern on the project in exchange for learning some techniques involved in making a stop motion film. Things like character design, sculpting, mold-making, casting, sets, animation, etc." I was surprised that she said yes, only learning today that her favorite movie of all time is Nightmare Before Christmas!

We had great conversation while machéing today. Between the rips of thick brown paper we talked about her various options for doing this type of thing for a living in the future (LAIKA's 70 stages filled with artists vs. doing your own thing, etc. Hi Internet!), ways of figuring out what story she'd like to tell through stop mo ("Make it a story you want to tell passionately so you won't mind the work it takes to make it"), scale ("Don't do it as large as Halfland whatever you do!").

"Hey, I know.. how about making your first short a music video?!" Which got this snowboarding, surfing, skiing, rock climbing, soccer playing, gymnast sweetheart to make the unmistakable sound of a young artist being forever hooked into this racket, "OOOoooooooooooooooooooo! YES!!!!!" (Look out--we got another one!)

Every other Monday. I couldn't ask for a better apprentice. I'm thrilled to have her.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Le Speed Maché (ou; Le Méthode de Vitesse du Papier)

I kept going after my helpers left and continued to speed maché* another session today. Layer 1: DONE; several more to go. Good thing I ADORE doing papier maché. Love it love it.

These pictures from last Sunday give me a lot of joy. I think it's because these sweet girls, my new intern Sophie (in the foreground), and her sister Tash, are pitching in and getting the papier maché stage finally underway. All the fast flying hands working on the project make me giddy with delight.

I didn't/couldn't plan this but I've had an olive tree on my desk for a few years that surprised me this year by blooming with tiny white flowers and then... tiny olives! I've harvested them while they are still small for 1/2. scale and am curing them as one really would so they'll last on the set as olives for Rana.

*My favorite Maché method for large structures: I use several types of papers, switching them up between each layer. I like thin painter's masking paper for fidelity to shapes; thick red resin paper for dense areas that need super strength; newspaper for a good free source for a lot of it; and torn up brown grocery bags.

The medium I prefer is undiluted liquid starch straight from the jug. I quickly tear the papers into piles of types in lengths and pieces first to keep things rolling fast. I wear dishwashing gloves with long cuffs as it speeds the process up. I pour the starch into shallow trays and use my gloved hand as an applicator of it to the sheet of paper, swoosh, swoosh, slap, press, again. These papers stay strong when whetted and so I can load them up and press the wet sheets onto the set shapes and smooth them down firmly with my hands, sculpting the paper onto the set. Let dry throughly between layers to ensure an iron clad firmness. A layer on this entire set can be covered in a day's session in this way.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Secret Formula

Two years worth of tiny self-portrait avatars made for the blog

Time Flys... It's a Bloggoversary Already!
March 31st, 2006 was my first blog post ever. As I'm sure it's true for you as well, the internet and its marvels have forever altered the course and richness of my life. A day doesn't go by that I'm not in awe of what is possible to do online, directly person to person, with the intelligent tools available now. I can create a piece of art and send it to a friend for them to see while we are talking on the phone together, that fast.

Having this blog in particular, hearing from the fine people who read it, has caused a complete turnaround in the project. I can share and document my progress with Halfland here and have people from every corner of the world deeply root for me and offer their help and suggestions. It's made all the difference.

Looking back, I'd say the biggest and most crucial secret formula I've been given over the course of the last two years has been simply to do the film the way I want, exactly how I want, when I want, without a shred of worry that there's a better way to do it (of course there is! always!) or that I'm doing it wrongly (of course I am! I couldn't care less though!). Having that approach inside has turned the project around from being a daunting impossible burden to an out and out thrilling pleasure to engage with.

No *success* yet, but a ton of fun trying! I made three small foam clay heads and bodies based on a fly photo Paul found. After they were mae I thought of making their bodies instead out of real watch gears and parts. Reader, Enrica Prazzoli, suggested a resource, Alpha Stamps for buying watch parts. I bought 6 tins full and have been trying to use them in a plaster mold with glue to shape them.

More interesting to me than common real world house flies, a photo Paul found inspired me to make Halfland's Time Flies (Musca Tempora) enlongated and orange winged. When I used a clear crackle medium for the heads (lower right above) in the mold, the parts rusted but looked like a conglomerate of watch parts like I'd like. The body didn't hold the shape so I tried embedding the parts in hot glue, which doesn't read like watch part well enough. I'll figure a way. I'm going to use tiny springs (maybe uncoiled accupuncture needles) for antenna and painted fine mesh for wings.
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