Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Topping It Off

We are in the midst of constructing the cottage roof and it's coming out so wonderfully, it may take the whole place into a whole new level of cozy richness.

Cirelle and I have been struggling to install several roof joists in the cottage based on discussions I've had about it with Yuji and Shel during their visits. It's a complicated task as I need each panel of the roof to be removable for filming access and yet be independent from the walls in some places--nevermind it's nuts. To make matters worse, I started off by using free hardwood scraps I picked up from a scrap bin and they have been tough/impossible to get screws into, etc. but I'm too stubborn to replace them now.

What has worked is making a paper pattern for the space between the joists and using the pattern to get the odd shape in cardboard. Cirelle painted each side of the cardboard with a wash of brown (inside side) or redwood (topside side). She perfectly hot glued on cedar shims for the interior of the roof that I stained the next morning with various shades of wood dye and walnut ink (seen above on left looking up from the floor with the first panel set above the bed, behind the new red canopy being built beautifully by Carol.)

Cirelle in in the process of hand placing each cut and stained cedar shim shingle using a clever pattern of her own design. The giant pail of shingles I've had ready for the whole roof have nearly been used up on just the first panel... so, I'll need to get about 10 more packs to cut down and get ready for the rest.

One of the problems with a long term project is that I forget ideas by the time the build time comes around. I recall preparing to use redwood lathing strips for the interior rafters. But I actually think the cardboard covered with shims end up looking nicer, thanks to Cirelle's skill.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Halfland Character Development: Tarn

fyi, (a great custom print company) is having a 72 hour sale on all printed products so I thought to grab the opportunity and get a set of miscellaneous art cards made up.

Each card can be a different image with them (!) so I chose a few random art images from the project and others to have made.

While I was looking for character sketches, I came across the development folder for the Tarn sketch. I thought you might like to see some of the intermediate stages of transformation from human to Halfling that took place in Photoshop via layering, coaxing, and finessing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halfland Puppets: Handicapped Butterflies

I always envisioned Halfland's Handicapped Butterflies as beautiful and winsome creatures with exquisite wings and clearly human bodies. They are called handicapped because their forms would be misshapen, deformed, or disabled in some obvious way, not to be crass or insensitive. I wanted them to make an elegant statement as they silently flew past us in the garden that while their human bodies may be impaired, it didn't matter at all because they were quite gracefully able to fly. My point was that a hampered body need not make one useless or of no consequence. As a matter of fact, in Halfland such things are perfectly accepted as part of normal wonderful life.
 I used hyper lightweight air dry fluffy clay mixed to a light flesh color. It took me and Constance a while to get the hang of how to sculpt such a small figure. I was after the impressionistic style of form that my friend Ronda was known for in her ceramics (see the vase she made for me in the middle behind the foam block, the one with women sitting around the top.) I found the best way for me was to make the bodies in sections; legs, torso, heads and arms, that would be attached with 34 guage wire after they cured the next day. Minute details like vertebrae, calf muscles, knees, elbows, nipples, heels, etc. were added under magnifier with small brush and Omnigel.

 Constance delved into Google to find us a selection of butterfly wings that we printed out to scale. I used Omnigel coated wax paper as their material and traced their patterns in pastel chalks and flocking powders.
When I finally paired each finished nude human body with each finished set of wings I was disappointed that they looked too much like fairies, which wasn't what I was after at all. I wanted a more Fine Art, serious result and these were coming out pretty cutesy-pie. Frustrated, I went back in with a vengeance with a blade and hacked them all into slimmer limbs and smaller faces. I glued legs together and flocked their bodies in an effort to make them cross back over into being more insect-like in the bodies. Added and hand striped my finest wire as antenna, which photographs as still too thick.

I'd say that only 2 or 3 survived the make-over as viable characters. I set them on Carol's stunningly lovely finished Teacup Rose trellis on set to see if that helped their effect somewhat. Still not sure.

I did my absolute best with them, although I'm not sure I succeeded.  I learned a lot about sculpting tiny figures and am much more adept at it after this experience. While I'm proud of the success of such tiny sculpts in general, I'm not sure they are up to snuff for the film.

I made them so small that I wonder if the effect I wanted would even be possible at this size. I spent so many hours making these over the last two weeks that I have to declare them all done at this scale for now, try them for distant shots in the garden, and may end up trying to make them again, larger for close-ups, after everything else is done.

Read Her Palm

Isn't this gorgeous?! It the finished palm tree that one of Halfland's Angel Army made during the last few months of her Friday visits. It's just exactly right for Halfland, hand-made, almost real looking, made from humble, simple materials through artistry. It'll look amazing next to the Serpent Sage Musician's desert tent in the film's last scene.

Sherie from the Sea, a very special regular Halfland Helper, started making the desert palm with me last summer. We cut leaf shapes out of ordinary brown grocery bags and layered them over iron wire and painted them rich greens. Many lent a hand cutting each leaf into fine angled fringes.

We covered a series of cardboard tubes with rustic brown papyrus paper, found at Pearl Paint, to simulate loose striated bark. She took her time add carefully added tiny strands of coconut fiber in between each fold of the bark. She collected fallen bamboo husks to use as the bottoms of fronds at the top of the tree. She finished the look perfectly by adding dyed corn husks over the palm date clusters. Speaking of them...

Dates happen around here. In the middle of all this creativity, my friend, (the talented photographer who shot the image used in the new banner) David stopped by to shoot the goings on and promptly got his heart completely stolen by Miss Sherie. (Who could blame him?! She's divine.) All everyone here knew was that David sure enough hung around that night after the shoot "helping" Sherie by painting the dates purple for her tree! (that's him auditioning them for her, bottom right) They closed down the place, talking, laughing, and giggling for hours, and then grabbed a coffee together after I threw them out--I mean asked them to leave! I got a one-word email the next day from David, "Wow."

Halfland dating indeed! l'Sigh. l'Amore. Muse R Us©.

So now with the tree all done and marvelous, I've assigned Sherie to start construction on the Musician's tent next. I've already dyed the old clothes that will be its fabrics in deep yellows and pale saffrons. One of the first tasks Sherie ever did here was to overpaint a collection of brocades several shades of bright orange for this same character's costume. The desert scene (Film 3 in the story outline) seems to be a perfect-fit niche for Sherie.

I Call Her

Only about 6 months LATE! I can now tell you about a special Halfland guest artist from last June.... Mariah! At the time she was just 14 (3 YEARS YOUNGER THAN HALFLAND ITSELF!!! please never speak of this again.) Now who can say how old she is. She probably has 2 kids in college. Nevertheless, it was very special having her here because every time her uncle Peter and aunt-in-law Pauli (in yellow below) would visit her family on the East Coast they would regale Mariah with tales of Halfland and it's magicalness.

As she grew, she become fevered to come and visit this place she could only see on the blog. One day last summer, she and her mom made their way out to the coast to visit. Being a great host, Pauli gave Mariah a long list of fantastically fun tourist destinations for her to choose from to do during her week-long visit. She requested to only come to Halfland... to work.... TWICE! (sigh, I could not have been more delighted!) She's the kind of young person I admire! Why sit on a beach sipping tea or go shopping for cute things when you can build a mushroom village?! Exactly.

Pauli (dear long time friend of my husband and myself), Mariah, and her lovely and funny mom, Margi, spent two days here cutting all manner of vegetation and telling funny stories. They are a total blast to hang with and the girls in blue above live far too far away.

Mariah was happy to really get involved in the set building. She helped me add tiny doors on mushroom houses and landscape their porches with small geraniums and stones. She darn near built the waterwheel that powers the bug's party lights in the stream by herself too. (see her concentrating on it like a maiden in a classical painting at the top) Margi and Pauli wailed away on the crepe paper grass planting on the meadow.

More than anything else it was so encouraging to have someone like Mariah interested in spending her vacation time on the project. I found her to be at once knowing, innocent, honest, and charming.

I'm tardy in saying so here, but I want her and her cohorts to know that their coming here, appreciating and helping build the set meant the world. Thank you, Dears, thank you.

Next time you're out this way I hope you'll stop by and see what we're up to.
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