Thursday, December 29, 2011
I had the misfortune to have the idea that the bug party needed a "No Lady Lady Bug" smoking a cigarette, with too much make-up playing the bass cello, legs akimbo, wearing torn stockings in her high sparkling red heeled pumps.
Got the cello going and her leg armature so that her toes can tap. Planning a tom tom tomato drum, grass blade xylophone, and twig clarinet as well. The rest of the players will be as simply rendered and plain as I can make them.
I left the sort of seedy bramble on the inside and painted each seed gold and added more tiny pearls.
The wonderful creature modelling the completed crown on the right is one of my most favorite possessions. It's a small sculpture by artist Jo-Ellen Trilling. A sensational creature, part bird, part lion, made of taffeta, painted fur, and feather, on its own upholstered plinth. I love him. And I'll love the new Queen Bee when she comes. I have her crown ready.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Hi Charles, I respect your gifts and talents as an architect tremendously as you know. Thank you for your offer to come to the studio and work on Halfland! I'd most love your help building the main set cottage porch!
It's built now only to the point you see above (top) with a plank base and two holes for branch posts. The three references below show the flavor I'm hoping to get when it's finished, half Victorian/half rustic-primitive/organic.
I'd like a little overhang just over where the uprights are. At one point I had intended the porch's roof to run along the length of planking. But Cirelle pointed out it blocked the view of the cottage door too much. I agree, so, building just over half of it seems better to me now.
We can use whatever materials I happen to have here when you arrive, redwood lathing strips, scrap wood, hole drills, bolts, etc. It doesn't have to be structurally sound, and should disassemble/come away in pieces for when I'm needing to get past it for filming the cottage interior.
FYI: Each panel of the roof and each wall of the cottage already slide out and away independently for filming from any angle inside.
Let me know if this is something you'd like to tackle during your visit (we should start at 11a for something like this). If not, we can plant landscape grasses that have been made by other fine folks, more casually, if you'd prefer (starting at 1p).
What do you think?! Should I save the porch project for you?!
UPDATE: Here is Charles emailed reply:
"Yay. I love porches. Let's go for it! See you at 11."
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Here's a random tour around the workshop taken on a recent cold rainy afternoon.
Come see just some of what's randomly in-progress on the tables and in the boxes in the workshop; snails, large-scale gardens being built with composite snail trails, message leaves reveal their answers, spiders in the attic, coloring book chickens, and more!
Next Tour: The completed fully-dressed set!
Friday, November 04, 2011
He attaches to the upholstered chair via matching-headed long needles as tie-downs (in silver so I can find them while animating him crawling.)
And making it prompted me to have to actually install the other sewing kit on the arm of the chair, which included gluing in each of those pins as well. And sewing the shell box onnto the chair with thread that I then painted over to match where it lay. I had to stiffen up all the dangling threads on both settings and fasten them down.
I can count on one hand the number of things left to do in the cottage before it is ready to begin shooting its scenes.
I've tooled his image as a double-sided copper figure, gazing upward to the skies, pen and journal in hand, with white and spring green patina to reveal the detail.
a color sketch of the Mouse. I used two squares of thin copper and various stylus tools to essentially draw the image twice, once flipped the other way, so they could be placed back to back to get a nice dimension.
Once these halves were matched up, seamed together as one, I set about creating the directional of leaves (actual directions don't matter at all in Halfland) finishing them of with thick medium and copper paint (so it would appear to be part organic blending from the metal hardware.
I used KS metal tubing to closely fit the figure into the base stem. It can swing freely with precise control, no wobble whatsoever. I used a wood doll chair leg as the wooden base on top of the cottage cupola. I liked how it looked like a bee skep.
Ah, I see we are expecting a lovely day.
The idea of making these cloth ground surfaces like the sand, grass, and dirt is very versatile. If I need a bit of set in a background, I can use any old things around, boxes or old drop cloths, to make a base and then throw one of the texture cloths over the top for an instant portable place.
These kids were among the most intelligent and sincere people I've met. They don't watch television, they read, and I could tell the difference. It was dramatic.They delighted in seeing everything, actually helping on the set, etc. They were full of fanciful ideas for the film. I hope they'll be able to come again.
They better hurry, hopefully Halfland will be be all lovely and done before they graduate collage. :)
Monday, October 10, 2011
There are a crop of cottage-sized dandies growing on Rana's roof as well. Where else will she be able to grab a hank of roots to throw in the soup pot?
Sunday, October 09, 2011
But how to show him making the Halfland lace?
I invented micro lace-making spools and other props for him, like the dark wooden bowl of woven lace above, and a few larger lace-making tools to sit along side his set to make him appear even smaller.
When I showed the finished sub-set piece off to Cirelle last week, she was irked because she knows that all spiders we see in a web are female (!) and this fellow is truly a male. But I made her feel better by saying that in 1/2L the male spiders that make the lace are "fabulous" and talented. But then I explained for real that it's just a matter of my needing another male character around Rana as most of the main characters in the series are female. It was too weighted toward that gender for me.
When you make a world you can make up a reality however you like!
After the set had been moved and fortified (!) I found it very easy to climb up there myself and swab on a mixture of paints to get the tree's taupe over the cement that had been made originally.
Next I'll need to hit the new white stems with more taupe paint wash, which is thankfully very fast and forgiving work.
This job may not have mattered for long shots of the set. Heck, I hadn't even noticed it was undone. But it really is important that it be done for the close ups it'll be in behind Yanu, the moth man in the tree and other tree up-shot action.
(PS: Doesn't the sky look good (upper right)?!)
These balloons were much more tricky to make than I imagined. I made many many attempts at it, shopping the aisles of craft shops for candidates that didn't work.
I needed them to be the right size, round, transparent, lightweight, and to have a handmade look. Miniature glass Christmas ornaments worked (used two of them out of the five) with the exception of their glass openings being more broad than I'd prefer. I camo'd that with twine and cloth skirts as much as I could.
The other three were made from a child's toy packaging that I bought for a dollar. Gave the toys (to a happy Aedon) and glued the two haves of the bubble they came in together. I had to layer them with clear glue to level out the toy's name on both halves and the seam in the middle. The seam was further camo'd with hand-painted stripes.
After the clear balls were wrapped and glued with hand-painted shiny silk-cellophane fabric, they were attached to painted strong wire that was then wrapped around clusters of rocks that can be hot-glued to the party set. The balloon strings were festooned with tiny ribbons and flowers to make them more party-like/festive as well as to hide the joins of the wire strands.
I like these as the last element for the party decorations because they add a nice height to the set for the flying bugs to be seen with.
I made an additional one, a nice new shiny red one wrapped around the middle of one of the worms who will be arriving with only his stomach kept aloft from it as he inches along.
I'm using this principle in other spots in the film as well...
Next up: Balloons!
I plan to use an add'l amber LED hidden in the middle to cast a warm glow on the ceiling (seen on bottom right). Each candle stick is fitted over slim balloon battery op'd LEDs with small handcrafted flames made from thread, florescent paint, and mica for sparkle.
During the interior night Act*, this light, the embers in the hearth, several other lamps, candle sticks, and mirrored sconces will add plenty of cozy warmth to the scenes.
Halfland will be divided into four Acts; Dawn, Day, Dusk, and Dark. The series ends with a bonus Scene in the dessert at Sundown.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
While D helped me straighten out my set on a Saturday, his wonderful sons made many many drawings in crayon, chalks, and watercolors, drew on the floor in sidewalk chalk, tried to watch dvd's but got bored with that, played with exercise balls, ran around, made water balloons, and cooled down with watermelon.
At the end of the long day, they were charmingly delighted to take home all the art to show mom!
More on the BIG changes on the set shortly!
Thursday, September 15, 2011
No one was more surprised than me that Urhu would have a medicine bag. And now it will sit next to him outside his tent on the mats while he waits for the troop to arrive seeking his help.
It started when I thought I'd do a quick Google search for a mouse silhouette to use as the basis for a template for the cottage's weather vane. I instantly had several options on my screen as if my magic. (I still can't get over the web's wizardry.) I tweaked the original on the left to use as the shape for an embossed copper vane, printed it out to size, and mocked it up on the (in construction) coppola (second from left).
I could/should have stopped there. But instead I added more character props and made him resemble the micro scale 3D puppet I've had for years; a little heavier, with whiskers, etc. (middle) Then I added texture and shading. I really liked how he looked (second from right) so I went further and added more surface texture and prop details. Ending the day (er night) with his costume kerchief.
Somewhere in the middle, I mocked up a little Halfland stationery with mirror image silhouetted mice and an acorn in the bottom corner. Here it is, in case you'd ever like to send notes from Halfland...
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Dear Friends, Much much much progress has been taking place in Halfland:
• The Macro Garden set (for close work on all butterfly actors and snail evening stroll scene) is nearly complete and exceeding my imagination for it by far thanks to Carol!
• The entire main set's White Paper Tree Forest Curtain Proscenium is also nearly finished (making the landscape of the cottage and tree like looking into a GIANT magical Easter Egg scene!) Thanks to Constance's help.
• Cirelle's been coming over Saturdays to finish the Cottage's Roof. It's genuinely at 99% done now! We just sized the dove coat to top it all off this afternoon.
• And the biggest surprise to me is that the Exterior and Interior Tent set (including EVERY thrilling prop for it) for the Serpent Sage Wise Man Musician has been built as well after Sherie started it all off only last week!!
Here's a little tease of the new tent interior for tonight as I'm so excited to show you all the action that's been going on...
Lots of process shots, design choice explanations, and details about the new builds forthcoming as soon as possible. Thank you all for your patience!
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Our sweet boy cat, Jeremiah, died on Saturday. We took him in his last hours to a good doctor who gave him a drug-aided death. We were with him the whole time. He died with the same noble grace and dignity he displayed all through his life and last couple weeks of failing health. Not a whimper, not a mess, no complaints.
I never thought I could make a decision to "take" a life of a pet, preferring to leave big things like that to nature. But it became too clear very quickly that he was dying a painful difficult death, not from old age but from an undiagnosed major disease of some kind and letting him ride it out any longer felt more cruel.
Jeremiah, was a rare Lilac-point Tonkinese (Russian Blue and Siamese mix) in one of her litters. He was so small and precious and light-colored we knew he could not survive as a wild canyon cat for long. I asked Paul to capture him for us. He did, with a box rigged with a string and baited with food. After he calmed down over being inside for the first time, he started to play and splay his back legs like this. He was the cutest thing we'd ever seen.
With Jeremiah's illness and death, however, we've come to a new understanding/learning. That if we are going to have pets we are going to have to be more responsible for their health care. With Jeremiah and his sister Isabella's being so wild (they never really tamed much) we thought taking them in for annual exams would be unnecessarily traumatizing for them. C'est la Vie, we'll take life as it comes. Not now.
Now we will take our pets in for annual exams and tests as part of their care. We still don't want to get every expensive test and medical procedure possible, and there's no guarantee that knowing what Jeremiah had would have given him more time, but we've decided to at least check them out as best we can and go from there.
Dagoba, good boy.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
She started sanding and painting the basecoat on what we'd devised last time. We decided the strings would be golden to connote the sacredness of this spiritual being and his music. We made the center of the flower-petaled bridge a little window on another world by gluing a glass half dome over dried yellow dahlia stamen. Appropriate material to use, yes, but its effect is like a looking into a strange landscape in miniature. Perhaps it's a glimpse into where the character comes from (noted for future episodes in the film!)
The neck has faux ivory inlay details and a tuning peg near its carved scroll head stock. The body, shaped from newspaper and masking tape, was given a hollow wood instrument look by filling in the seams and cracks a few times with layers of wood filler, sanding, and painting with raw sienna acrylic. The final coat was clear natural paste wax for a soft polished sheen.
Sherie cut and fitted an oval of nude leather for the face which was later stained and tinted with Nova's rich transparent Indian Yellow acrylic, tinted, near its wood oval sound board in the middle, with walnut ink shading.
I used metallic gold thread for the strings which begin at the neck and travel around the tail piece underneath. They are held away from the body and separated by the wooden flower petal bridge. It won't actually play any sounds. But in the film will be resonate like a cello as the strings of the bow are drawn slowly across them.
Sherie is slamming on the Desert Set progress. Next time she comes over I'll ask her to make a start on the bow!
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Rowena Murillo's profile photo at random (lower right). She had a school logo on her shirt and that got me thinking about making Halfland's lettering reflect in a mirror.
Wikipedia on a search turned me onto the beautiful rorschach ambigram paintings (a couple bottom center) by John Langdon that I roughed onto her shirt. I found that there were automatic ambigram generators online and that the very best, based on my results was Flip Script. I'm still refining what raw ambigram I'll use, but when I do, I plan to purchase the high res art to use as the basis for the rest I'll do to it from that site. So far, I've used screen grabs of the various free previews, edited their positions and added insect and human artifacts to them letter forms (above).
Here's the thing, ambigrams, a term I hadn't known before yesterday, generally read the same at 180º angles, right side up and upside down. I wanted the lettering to read when reflected in the mirror, yes, but not just that. It really also needs to be somewhat communicative without the use of a mirror, viewing right side up. So my results below are very satisfying for me. They do the trick for me.
I have since gone back to the Flipscript generator and tried all sorts of approaches to trick the code into giving me lettering that will read as "Halfland" when viewed from every direction with a mirror. Somehow I cracked the code and did it. So those results may show up in t-shirts or other items.
But in the meanwhile, I completely enjoyed experimenting with various project imagery to begin to see the world being created coming together at long last...
PS: If you happen to have a mirror nearby you, try holding it up to the screen, either above or below any of these sketches lettering horizon lines. If you wait a moment your brain should find the language pattern in the lettering and reveal the name of our secret place anyway you reflect on it.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Here you can see the wool fiber smoke tendrils unedited on the end of his white wire cigarette, a close up of his painted silver head of a pin belt buckle and translucent specs lenses. It took me quite a while to figure out that two joined cells cut from aluminum mesh filled with clear glue lenses (colored with permanent marker ink once dry) would make such tiny scale shades. I kept changing the colors of his costume as he developed so the antennae got a few coats and too much texture (it's ok). The trickiest part was attaching pieces of wire to the sides of the glasses and then get them to act like over-the-ear arms over his antennae (works). Then the frames were black, then painted silver, then flock over with pink because I didn't dig the uneven texture of the silver. Couldn't get any smoother at this micro scale.
His groovy attitude came about after I positioned his legs and arms in this position. Once that happened, his character screamed to recline and kick back. You can just tell his moves on the dance floor are fierce. This Party is going to be fun.