Thursday, December 24, 2009

100 Days of Progress: Iron Sides

That formerly too-small soup pot has been successfully transformed into Rana's PERFECTLY-scaled iron tea pot to hang in her hearth. When the little top knob decided it wanted to be a mushroom, the patch of grass decided to grow on the lid beside it. I know grass really couldn't survive the heat of the hearth's fire, but it was one of those Halfland magic things--just had to be this way without reasonable reasons.

I'm proud of the grass especially. I used a small piece of expensive German model train landscaping grass, that is too small for Halfland itself but perfect for the kettle, by pulling out small clumps at a time and hand-applying them into pools of matte medium. The arc of the former handle was bent to be like the Japanese kettles Paul has here. The kettle should now hang nicely on the hearth's iron crane (in progress).

I used air-dry polymer clay to form the spout, sanding down the join when dry to a smooth join. An iron handle was built with a slice off a pvc pipe, cut off with plastic pipe cutter. The snug angles trimmed to fit with scissors. A small bottom loop made from a part stolen from the working inside of a ballpoint pen. After these pieces were glued on with jewelry glue (vapor the only toxic material I allow; using only at window and/or with respirator, depending on how much gluing will be done) the whole pot was painted with iron surfacing paint.

Once dry, the newly iron pot gets a careful treatment of rusting solution to look oxidized where moisture might collect on a real pot. The red spots were made to look like inlay by using dimensional paint that was painted red when dry, with the iron paint applied around them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Fish Arrivals: Jessica Koppe & Rich Johnson

Look what wonders arrived on the same day...
MYCTOPHIFORMES DRACO! (Lantern Fish, foam latex puppet by Jessica Koppe in Germany)
Jessica Koppe's Myctophiformes DracoJessica Koppe's Myctophiformes Draco Details

CUCKOO FISH! (Marvelous build-up puppet by Rich Johnson in Canada)
Rich Johnson's Cuckoo Fish!Cuckoo Fish Details

ZIPPY! (Bonus puppet by Rich Johnson in Canada)
Rich Johnson's Zippy
Click through photos for more details on these WONDERFUL puppets for Halfland's underwater scene! Thank you both some much, I LOVE THEM!

Caterpillar C is Alive!

Caterpillar C is Alive!, originally uploaded by Nobledesign.
I had a magical THRILL today. A thrill I will never forget.

I noticed a hint of color and motion (upper left) inside the jar on my desk. The jar I'd long since assumed held the dead chrysalis of my third captured caterpillar.

I can't describe the wonder and surprise at seeing this brightly-colored and beautiful fluttering creation after being so sure no butterfly could still be alive after looking like a dead leaf for so many weeks!

I took loads of photos, tried to find out if he needed food or water and then decided to release him out the window, even though I don't imagine there are any passion flower vines for him or other Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae around to mate with in his 4-5 days left of life.

I felt it was better to give him a shot at living by some miracle of nature as opposed to certainly dieing. I'd have loved to keep him to admire after his death but knowing him while he's alive, that seemed less than appealing.

But you know I broke out alll the orange silk fabrics I had at hand for a photoshoot first though! Art before all. (lower right) An abstract vapor of his fluttering on orange silk.

Googling made it easy to discover data about my little Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae and what to do when he emerged.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Artists: Cirelle & Nancy Fit in Halfalnd

Lovely Cirelle planted Rana's cottage window box so that it looked exactly as if it were growing. We all loved how the flowers looked from inside the cottage. As creative guests, she and Nancy were asked to sign the artist autograph board.

Darling Nancy got her hands into the sumptuous woolen yarns, hand-dyed velvets and silk strips she used to create little cocoon spool props that will look amazing next to Rana's chairs. Twigs had to be snipped to length for a uniform result.

While standing outside Paul's local book signing the other day, I struck up a conversation with two lovely women, Cirelle and Nancy, whom I've known by sight for many years but hadn't ever gotten to know at any depth. I was stitching a gift to keep busy and Cirelle offered to sew a bit of it. That got my attention as I've not known many people who would want to do anything with their hands like that besides myself.

We started chatting about Halfland and wasn't I surprised when both she and her dear friend Nancy got excited to come to Halfland to help. They could not have been nicer, we really had a lovely afternoon planting a cottage window box and winding hand spun wool yarns onto twig spools as props.

We talked and ate and tried to stay warm, but the best news of all is that THEY REALLY WERE HELPFUL!! They both took wonderful sensitivity and care to the tasks I had planned out for them, each doing a perfect job, such that I won't have to re-do or alter a thing! Ladies, you're talented hands fit right in!

Their coming over gave me the shame leverage I needed to do a major clearing in the workshop. I got all the prop materials organized found that there were in fact several jobs that can be delegated to whomever might come here to lend a hand. No matter the level art experience or skills, it seems all that's needed to contribute in a major way here is a kind, open heart. I'm at the point in the project now where I can clearly see what tasks can be handed over to whomever is offering to help.

In the case of Cirelle and Nancy, I found they both had the detail awareness, patience, and knack for getting inside the project. They seemed very attuned right way to the peaceful, rustic little world being created bit by bit, and craft beautiful things, saving me a lot of time.

It was wonderful having you both here, Cirelle and Nancy. I hope you'll come again!

New Character: UPDATE His new name is Monty!!!

Thought of and sketched this little guy today. The idea came from the dried blowfish I bought from Kit Kraft last week. If Mike Sitkin hadn't had them inexplicably hanging up behind the cash register and priced within reach, I would likely never have thought of adding a guy of this sort to underwater scene. Maybe I should name him Kit?

The dried fish wasn't very photogenic, what with being a long dead dried out Porcupinefish fish from the family Diodontidae, also commonly called blowfish and, sometimes, "balloonfish" and "globefish" (wiki). But after Googling for images of live samples, I had fun imagining how to make a puppet for the film from him.

I thought his sharp spines and puffy balloon-like body made for an ideal Halflandian joke. To me it's as though he's a happy little fellow who can't understand why he's never been able to have an intimate relationship with those of is kind. I won't have to build more than the one to get the concept across. He'll just gently float through the scene and everyone will get it.

ok, dear readers, any name ideas?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Field Report: Kit Kraft Mania*

I have enjoyed perusing art supply stores all my life. It's always the most fun possible to see new material to help make something. Kit Kraft delivers the standard thrill and then keeps out doing itself the longer you stay there. I suggested their slogan be: "Have Multiple Artgasms"

Made my annual blast-o-visit to Kit Kraft the fabulous independent art-supply-of-all-kinds store in Studio City near Los Angeles. I spent several hours and found obscure things I needed for Halfland, things I'd never heard of that I needed for Halfland, things I didn't know I needed for making things for xmas gifts, and things that gave me exciting ideas to make other things. I challenge anyone to go see owner Mike Sitkin and NOT find exactly what they need for any project, no matter how out-in-left-field it might be. (Case in point: I bought a dried real blow fish for $3.50 in addition to excellent hobbyist tools.)

The shop is utterly organized and stocked full with a large variety of product in numerous categories of art products. The service is outstanding and Mike will do anything for you. I asked him where the post office was and he offered to process my package for me in the Kit Kraft shipping department, complete with printed tracking label and fitted packaging, thus giving me luxurious stress-free art supply shopping time instead of PO lines and rushing. Incredible!

The selection is abundant at Kit Kraft. In addition to the drool-worthy modeling and polymer clay section above, they also carry earthen and precious metal clays and all the tools to use it. You see only a portion of the wire section above as well. There I found the PERFECT wire for Time Flies and other insect legs! In black already! I bought a large spool of 34 gauge (USA size) in black for $4.50 and a smaller spool of 34 gauge (Metric size) in gold because it was even finer! Mike explained the difference between the two gauges, how the same numbers are not the same in actual thickness.

How to you figure that this store even had a massive selection of sizes of clear acrylic half domes that are perfect for use as the watch crystal in the Time Frog's belly? He must have had 20 size increments to choose from. I found great new tools. Those yellow straws above are actually micro paint brushes that can be used for application of glues, paints and solvents. The new precision tweezers were just $5.75. The syringes are to help me apply glue to the window panes (post coming).

I also found fun new bits and bobs to make jewelry and gifts. Mike cut a piece of delicious pumpkin shearling that I'm wearing right now as insoles in my slippers in this cold rainy night. My cat really seemed to enjoy the shearling too.

Mike had a lot of new products since I'd been in. One was an air-dry polymer clay that I've already used to make a mold for the tiny green frogs bought there and the spout on Rana's teapot. Glitters! Bright paint for Rana's hearth flames, snow for xmas cards, metal castings from Kit Kraft's attic, where I also found a lovely old carved horse from India (not pictured) for $4. There were fabulous wooden inlay strips and the odd scroll pieces that will be used to decorate Rana's cottage.

I will use everything I bought this trip and look forward to my next one! Thank you Kit Kraft!

*No compensation was paid to me for my raving about the store. I just get genuinely creatively stimulated there.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

100 Days: Mystery Door

The top key, with the heart opening, I made from scratch. The other key under that, with the opening that matches the chalet's eaves, was a doctored store bought. *Have a look at the tiny lines on the palm of your hand to see that the keys are about an inch long.*

Found a little key doodad in a clearance bin for 50¢ that happened to fit 1/2L's scale just right. It was flat on the back so I used layers of glue to build up some dimension. Painted it with iron surfacer and then with rusting solution and got a nice second key for Rana to wear on her waist. I wonder what it opens?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Eureka! New Idea: How Time Flies

The Time Frog catches flies from his spot in the pond but they don't die. Instead they make their way to the Frog's belly, where the gears, levers, jewels and such of a clock works operate in him.

Readers here have heard me fumble around for years about the Time Frog character. My original vision was certain. He was a frog with one of his eyes a clock face. He will sit quietly in his pond, just down the hill from Rana's cottage and all that we know of as time exists because he exists. He is Time itself. (The origins of a frog with a watch in his eye initially came to my mind as I was working on one of the early Mac desktop computers in 1993. I was rendering a large file for a childrens book and the cursor, happened to be placed over an illustrated frog's eye, as it turned into a watch icon during the Hard Drive's slow operation. One dot led to the other.)

Readers will know that the addition of the Time Flys seemed to flow naturally as things developed here on the blog. I knew I wanted them to buzz around and land in the bejeweled spider webs in the corners and be captured in Rana's sewing pin cushion. But I really groped around for how I could connect the Flies, the Frog, and Time in a way that made really good and fun sense. I wondered if the flies dropped watch parts? or somehow built a clock, nothing really had enough logic to me. Finally, in a flash, I got it yesterday morning as I was waking up.

The dots started flying in my head and rapidly connecting themselves as I came to, until I flew out of bed and started constructing what I imagined. A domed plastic packaging from our recycle bin, watch parts Marcie H.O.N. (Halfland's Official Naturalist) sent next to the puppet's sculpt and mold, to start sketching out how to construct clock works in the Time Frog's belly!

I plan to construct this large pocket watch under glass and animate it with rotating gears and busy flies making it all go, like a small cut away vignette.

Readers here will know how exciting this development in the minor character in the story/play is, and how much I thank them for staying around. Now it flows just right. Just right for Halfland. (Readers here will please refrain from noticing that the date on the previous sketch of the Time Frog was October of 2007.)

Eureka! New Idea: Moon Lanterns

I'm over the moon on this one, Gang. I've had two top-drawer ideas for Halfland today. Both are sketched, and I couldn't resist posting one of them before bed.

I had been planning for there to be handmade paper lanterns hanging on the lower branches of the Answer Tree but I never knew before what they should look like. Rustic, yes, and beautiful, as one of the main characters, Yanu, the Moth Man, would be living in the tree on the branches above the lanterns (because we all know how moths feel about light at night, they stay close by.)

But it wasn't until today when I remembered a poem I wrote last year about how the moon looked like welcoming light on a neighbor's porch. I picked up and explored a small paper lantern that I had painted black for Halloween with new eyes. Dots began connecting in my mind and the next thing I knew, I had an element for Halfland that I dearly love.

The main lantern, lit each night by Rana and hung from her porch, will be meant to actually be the moon in all its phases. Every exterior scene in the evening will show the lantern in a different phases of the moon, as I see it each evening from my own window.

It's as if Rana's cottage, with its Answer Tree that knows everything in life, and shall I call it the Stream of Consciousness with its rocks that are aware that runs along side it, and now the moon displayed each night from its porch, becomes grander metaphor than I imagined yet still completely meaningful to me privately. As it should be.

Next Post:
I can show how the Time Flys operate the clock in the Time Frog's belly when he eats them! Another improbable connect-the-dots tale with a very happy ending...
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