Rooting for Me

Had a blast over the weekend and finished off several more vegetables, many of them root veggies, for Rana's abundant kitchen! Really pleased with how they turned out.

I had sculpted the yellow squash, turnips, carrots, and apples way back in New York circa 1993 but only completed them, and made others from scratch, just now. It was a lot of fun to sculpt in the leaves and greenery onto the vegetable bodies inspired by nature. In the upper left background above you can make out the blurry root bundle I added to the vegetables as tails. You see, I had grown a plant cutting a couple years ago in water that grew a nice root system but then I kilted it by mistake. Never to be one to throw possible Halflandian gear away, I saved it. So this weekend I spent snipping off little curly bits and gluing them into poked holes in edibles. yay.

I'd like to tell you what I learned from this Halfland episode, it's something that I've been coming aware of about the project, something probably everyone's project does for them. Profounditty alert: I've noticed that as I begin to craft the various elements for the project I become more aware of the object(s) in question. I don't mean that I simply see them as I'm out and about, like a reticular activation phenomenon. I mean that I slowly begin to see and understand their creation in an expanded way.

Example: I've been sub-consciously thinking of crafting say the flowering vines on the cottage, well, I'll not only see flowering vines in neighborhoods while I'm outside but I'll begin to notice the ratio of blooms to greenery on certain varieties. Or I'll suddenly understand the structure of the flowers and their relationship to the birds and their seeds, etc. It's like an awareness moves in my head and I enjoy a greater understanding about creation.

How this surprisingly showed up as I was painting and making the vegetables, was that silly little things, that probably most people already know but that I had no idea about before come more clear. Like how the roots are not to be colored because they wouldn't get light underground. Or that often the coloring in the greens of an edible plant will telegraph the nutrients in the growing thing, if one could decipher its "label". Point is, everything we eat has it's own method of perpetuating itself and insects and animals adapt to utilize those systems and vice versa the plant adjusts itself over time to be better used. It's all so utterly gorgeously integrated.

It isn't that I attempt to precisely reproduce anything for the project, it's ultimately going to be whatever pleases me to do rather than accuracy. In fact, the visual style in Halfland is extremely rustic and primitive and above all textural. It's my visual expression of nurturing and contentment. But the added benefit of gaining a little more understanding about this world is a definite unforeseen bonus of making it all. [end of insight]

The vegetable soup was very successful! I had the little round wooden box painted along with all the other kitchen ware for Rana from the early days but it wasn't yet a kettle until now. First I had to route out the interior with a nasty drill bit that looked like a miniature mace, chomp, in order to push out the vertical sides like a kettle's would be. then I used (a very handy tool) the hand drill to pilot holes for the handle rings on each side. To make them I cut an "s" hook in half (HA!), glued them well in. The handle ended up being strong pounded wire, formed the ends with my jewelry making tools to have opposing hooks (how I knew to make the hooks go into the loops in opposite directions I'll not know). These were both finished with coats of steel paint, saw dust, and black acrylic wash to imitate sooty iron.

The soup's chopped vegetables were made of things like chucks of white airdry clay sprayed with walnut ink and then cut to make convincing mushroom pieces or painted yellow neoprene foam squash with their mangled centers and painted green and white seeds, and green crinkled wax paper cabbage shreds. The whole lot got sprayed with a clear spray sealant [The first tox thing under protest but it was essential as tests proved the soup would return the naked chopped props back into blobs; respirator; on back staircase.] then mixed into a batch of strong hold hair gel tinted with sheer walnut ink to make it a rich soup stock color.

Serve on a plank with whole wheat bread, baked back in New York, animate a few times this afternoon and you've got some steamy good eatin'!

My roots are showing in a basket on left, one of Rana's water jugs in back of her clay jar of cured and herb olives, mini loaf of wheat bread up front. (image processed with fabulous free French Polaroid image maker, PolaDROID)


  1. W---0---W

    pretty freakin cool..herself.


  2. Oh my goodness - these tiny foodstuffs are just too much. You are so talented.

  3. Those veggies look amazing! That soup looks delicious! Very convincing...nice work.

  4. I turned on my computer this morning just in case comments like these had come in. I'm so excited and encouraged by your appreciation. I thank you very much!

    Here I go... onto the landscape!

  5. "The soup's chopped vegetables were made of things like chucks of white airdry clay sprayed with walnut ink and then cut to make convincing mushroom pieces or painted yellow neoprene foam squash with their mangled centers and painted green and white seeds, and green crinkled wax paper cabbage shreds. The whole lot got sprayed with a clear spray sealant... then mixed into a batch of strong hold hair gel tinted with sheer walnut ink to make it a rich soup stock color."

    um.... yum? ;) the next time i make veggie soup i'm totally going to think about this...

  6. I know, gl! Not very appetizing! And I found out this morning that the gel evaporates! I'll have to stow the soup until showtime in a mini Tupperware©! HA!

  7. They look amazing! The realism is incredible -and the polaDROID link gave me a huge help for a project as well, thanks!

  8. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Everything looks delicious! Just like your cooking. :-)

    I need a mobile cnc mill robot!!


  9. Oh! I'm so glad, emmyymme! It really is a fantastic tool that Poladroid app. I used it to make a series of lovely greeting cards for work myself, a godsend for sure.

    I KNEW IT, Yuji! I saw that machine and said that's going to really appeal to you in a dangerous way! Aren't they spectacular?! And really not far off from what you've already made! Computer driven, axis control, etc.

  10. A head spinning post; wonderful objects, beautifully finished. Clever, clever, clever.

    Your profundity alert made me chuckle. For the last few months I've been looking for external locations for a shoot and I've been doing exactly the same thing... not with plants and the environment, but with buildings and street scapes. I've been pleasantly surprised just how the layout of streets and the way buildings fit into them are really a type of organic/evolved structure. Particularly when you see the way people use those spaces.

    I love it when a planner has gotten a footpath slightly wrong (or out of the organic flow of an area as I like to think of it) and people just cut a corner so often there's a worn patch in the grass. I guess it reminds me that humans live in an organic way no matter their surroundings.

  11. Anonymous7:29 PM

    It's those little tails that bring the root vegetables to life!
    That, and the subtle layered finish on them, which never looks like you slapped on a coat of paint.
    Good choice for carrot top foliage too.
    You're creating and posting pics faster than I can keep up!

  12. the attention to detail you put in these is amazing. the apples are gorgeous. I'm hungry!

  13. Thanks and ding ding ding--You said the magic Halfland word of the week, Rich! "footpath" You'll see why next post. I should come up with a prize or something.

    Love your observations on buildings having layers of detail to awaken to. I think what is at work is the Power of Observation. If that isn't a book it should be.

    @Mr. Nick, Thanks! I guess roots literally do bring veggies to life, HA! Thanks for noticing the paint. I do labor over that, lots of layers. I dipped the turnips in melted wax to get their color translucent on the surface.

    I hope to continue to progress more and more. If I didn't take ballet a lot of time could be invested in even more progress. But if I didn't move my body weird unhealthy things would begin to happen in time. It helps my mind and emotions stay even and no other exercise interests me at all.

    All day tomorrow is Halfland's though. yay.

    Hey, Rich Johnson, I checked out your blog, very funny web series you're making over there. I loved the clips. And the Crackle episode about the Flower Man was really great as you said. Welcome to Halfland. I'll have to check out My Friend Barry when it debuts.

  14. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Yummy work Shelley! Great realism.

    I'm trying to get the fish finished, but I've been very busy, I'll try to get it done as soon as I can. I haven't forgotten

  15. The soup and veggies are fantastic. Love the kettle treatment, too.

    I will also be making soup, so the hair gel trick is a good one to remember! Though I have to make it animatable... hm. (As in, boiling on the stove!)

    I'm thinking gelatin might be the way to go... combined with hair gel? And tapioca for bubbles? Yum! ;)

    Congrats on getting all your food props done... it's all looking superb!

  16. @Seamus! Thanks! Looking forward to it, Seamus.

    Hi Stephanie, I'll post one of the little clips I made of the soup boiling, convincing!

    Your idea of using tapioca is great, although they'd likely break down in a short time in the gel How about using clear beads? You are trying to animate each bubble, right? Maybe string the beads on strands of clear thread and slide up and down and different rates. I've got some to choose from here, if you like some sent to you for the cause.

    fyi; The next morning half HA! the soup left out in the bowl had evaporated (either that our the cats ate it). So, the gels need to be put away when done shooting for the day.

  17. Wow, I pop into the social realm for a while and look at all the progress here in .5land!!

    Your profundity observation reminded me of a quote I saw once long ago and always remembered because it's so true....

    "When you are deeply into one thing you are into all things"

  18. HAhaha -- good to know about the soup evaporation... Hopefully your cats didn't eat it though!

    So you've done boiling soup animating?? Ooh, I'd love to see this... maybe I should email you. Good idea re: clear beads for bubbles. I think I even have some; I bought a few different sizes and types of clear and white beads for eyeballs! Thanks Shelley!

  19. Happy welcome back into .5Land, Mikeee, hee. Glad you are seeing real people too tho.

    YES! The Power of Observation! That's it.

    I remember a quote like the wonderful one you cited above. I think it's Emerson... Can't find it :| Found this appropriate bit of business whilst I was a lookin':

    "All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason."

    --Ralph Waldo Emerson

    And found this echo of the idea on my wall:

    "All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop."


    I sure will post the link to the little test video I made when I finished the soup the other day. It is not good, you understand, but will show you clearly how hair gel can animate as boiling liquid perfectly. I was shocked at how realistic it looked in that way.

    [Stand by for a link here.]

    I'd be glad to add to your bubble tests with a variety of clear beads, both with and without holes and clear threads and elastics for you to experiment with.


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