Saturday, March 27, 2010

On Set Reaction Video

I was getting something from the kitchen when Cirelle came in yesterday. I heard distant noises on the set, thought she was hurt. Rushed in and saw she was seeing the window treatment installed on the set for the first time, grabbed the camera. Click photo title to see it.

Growing Pond of You

When Cirelle started coming over for Girl Fridays Halfland Help I thought it was fantastic to have a pair of talented hands taking care of some of the less-demanding production tasks. But that's not what has happened. What's getting more clear is that she is a superb creative partner.

Take today for example, I saw how expert Cirelle was with making faux plants look natural on my test tasks for her. I thought after we made the cottage window treatments together, I'd get her to plant the Time Frog's pond on the main set. I showed her the array of faux reeds, cattails, and other grasses I'd collected for the purpose. I showed her the Conscious Stones, the papier maché rocks, the photos of lily pads and prop lotus blooms I'd made last year. As she started placing the rocks and describing where she wanted to plant the foliage, I was impressed with her understanding of how nature works. She's actually excited to be helping me plant the set! [Thank you, God!]

Then the unexpected Cirelle bonus struck again. As the Time Frog's actual size stand-in looked on from his position in the pond, as Cirelle started arranging the reeds to be planted at the water's edge, we soon realized that the water needed to be worked out first so we'd know the waterline level and how to have the reeds growing in the water itself. My original idea of using several tubs of hair gel soon paled next to the spontaneous development of a perfect hand made Halfland pond that I'm terribly fond of.

After various creative idea tossing, we landed on the idea of three layers of fabrics; an algae-like green ultrasuede murky bottom attached at the depth of the hole, a softly crumpled middle layer of bright blue tulle [whose gentle contours looks exactly like water even in person] and topped with a shimmer of translucent pale green silk, wired at the edges, made as taut as possible, to become the ponds surface. Lotus leaves and flowers can float on top. (Above Cirelle and I test out various color combinations.)

This solution THRILLS me to the bone. I love the way it looks. And not only does it look amazing from above, but when the easily removable under layer is taken away (or even through a hole in the fabric!), the camera can shoot straight up from under the water, through the lotus tendrils, under their leaves floating on the water's surface, to the brighter world above. I screamed a little when we saw that.

In the last few minutes of our time together today, Cirelle and I scrambled to get her started with a sculpt of her original Halfland character (It will appear in a cameo in Halfland series and then possibly become the FIRST Halfland spin-off series of it's own, that she will make for and by herself! I love the idea of people making their OWN Halfland films! YAY!) She wanted something creative to work on for herself at home. She's so incredibly intelligent that she absorbed my triple-speed tutorial on stop mo puppet sculpting, as our hands flew, twisting a wire base. Her delicate character sketch is in the background.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting Sill-y

Finally finished the window curtains for the window next to the cottage's front door. It's an important window because it gives the first hint of the cozy cottage interior behind it.

This treatment is two layers, one, a sheer embroidered gathered shade embellished with flowers & silk cord bows, and a heavier set of pleated woven drapes, tied back with rustic tassels. The curtain branch/rods, alive with emerging leaves, rest on more brass acorn brackets.

It may appear as though it's just a few bits of fabric thrown over a twig or two, but really what you see is a tiny sculpture. Everything is wired together and sewn in place, the edges anchored into the wall with small wire staples, the cords sewn in place, each iron ring secured onto the branch with hair-thin black wire.

The sill was finally installed with silicone caulk and carved and weighted down wile curing to fit snugly onto the casement. The brackets were epoxied into the wall as was done for the kitchen pair. Tiny brass whole acorns were made from the super small ones sent to me from Atlanta by Halfland's Official Naturalist, Marcie. I patinaed them with metallic paint and gave them iron caps.

The successful tassels shown were my third attempt, all taking a long time, but they had to be just right in terms of nature mixed with simple wood shapes, their texture, and scale.

Cirelle (seen sewing upper left--in daylight!!) and I attached the curtain panels and secured everything in place before I could add the final touch of adding growing leaves. I used dessicated vine trimmings I'd collected from a garden dried out a couple weeks in silica powder. I used flexible cement to position and attach the to-scale dried twigs to the main branches, let them dry. And then added on the preserved and dried & dyed green leaves the same way. Lastly, I carefully slathered on a slurry of cement tinted with strong brown walnut ink dilution, to further reinforce the delicate stems.

Bottom left shows the window from the exterior at night. Just the right amount of home-y warmth.

Thanks to Cirelle for fine contributions to this part of the set, for making such a fabulous working companion and creative partner, and for preventing me from hand-embroidering the centers of each flower on the shade. (Not joking!)

See them in person... sorta:

Halfland Entry Window Curtains from herself on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Geniuses, Talented, Friends

I have met the finest people here.  Many check in, many chime in, many join in, many just patiently wait. I thought I'd take the opportunity of crossing the 100 followers mark, the ones that I can see through the Blogger widget in the side bar here >, to say a big blog THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

Sometimes my lust and desire to work on editing/finessing all the props, settings, and puppets NOW, RIGHT NOW N_O_W!!! Gets to be dangerously overwhelming. I can only imagine the saintly patience you folks are digging in deep for as you have to wait and watch this glacier melt. THANK YOU FOR WAITING THROUGH THESE SLOW PARTS.

This is a humble tribute to you. Each one of you appreciated and important. Some absolute geniuses. Some hugely gifted with stunning talent. Many proven themselves to be true friends in my life. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR MAKING HALFLAND HAPPEN.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


It was useful. Not successful but useful.

Useful because I got far more familiar with what I need and want my Halfland armatures to be like. Unsuccessful because my experiment of testing Japanese plastic ball& socket joints in the design failed. Everything worked perfectly except for the weakness of the stems on the joints. The joints themselves were great. The epoxy held well, the plug and play fitted tubing concept worked great. The rubberized bandage wrap worked well, allowing the poses without spring back, yet holding all the parts securely.

One really positive result from the test was that I stumbled upon the idea to make the final layer a latex-coated paper skin. It was like papier maché only using latex on the underside instead of adhesive. 

FUN to paint in several layers of nice latex into the molds for Kyra the mermaid's arms. After they were dry, I fitted the bandage-wrapped armature inside and back-filled with more latex making for a solid articulate puppet arm when cured. Upper right, the armature curing inside the bound mold halves. Bottom right, the paper skin surface.

Really just to test the armature, I made a quick wire hand armature. I put small oval pearl beads inside each finger tip but of course the "real" puppet arm will need proper tiny hinges or joints in each finger.

Second from right shows the hand fresh from the mold, the far right is after trimming excess latex away and dipping in thinned latex.

armature test from herself on Vimeo.

Drapery Capers

Cirelle came over last Friday to help fabricate the curtains for the window by the cottage door. And I'm really happy with the design we came up with for it. You can see us mocking it up with our hands above, second from right.

It wasn't as I'd planned, but my hands chose an expensive embroidered blouse that I had in a bag to donate. I added wine-colored centers to each embroidered flower on the blouse's border, some with markers some with embroidery thread. Then over-painted the whole pale top with bright yellow dye.

We discovered on my reference wall a great sort of roman-shade style of hanging an embroidered folk curtain that will have this layer gathered up in two perfect spots to raise it.

The pleated wine-colored curtain layer over that will have acorn-spindle pull-backs on either side, finished with hand-made tassels.

Clearly I operate a downtown sweatshop. Here, on the right, you see how I make Cirelle work at the sewing machine for hours in the dark! She sewed all the edges on the three panels with perfect little scale hems.

Thanks, Cirelle. See you Friday to finish!

PS: Cirelle has been inspired to create a Halfland creature of her own. Here she is adding color to her sketch.
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