Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Morning from Halfland

Hope you are enjoying a warming cup of tea with Rana this morning... as a new year dawns.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mirror Mirror

I am realizing more and more how much of a creative influence Dare Wright's (MASTERPIECE!!!!) Lona; a Fairy Tale has had on me all my life and on what Halfland aspires to be. Could it be that I have backed into the secret of how some of its magic was achieved?!
On the right you see a detail of a page from this most beautiful of all books, featuring a bewitched toad (a former and to be once again prince) with a jewel embedded in his head. It's one of my favorite illustrations from her story, primarily because of the GORGEOUS distortion and blurring the maker reached as the long fingers holding the toad smear (see full frame below) in the most perfect, delicate, and beautiful stretches I've ever seen. Every illustration in the book is screamingly achingly alluring.

I had thought Dare Wright achieved the distortion effect with lenses. Many artists are currently practicing "free lensing" or lens whacking" to get wonderful aberrations in their captures. I was trying various methods like that in my test shots when I came across an spread in the WSJ magazine where the photographer Anthony Cotsifas and his stylist Michael Reynolds (who were in turn inspired by André Kertész's distortion series.) instead employed the use of carnival fun-house mirrors to photograph the still-life(s) for the editorial. The effect was dreamy, as any fantasy like Halfland should be presented, and watery and yet somehow also perfectly clear.

On the left and center above you see the small mirror (from Carnival Mirror) set up on the reversed pond set. Below, a few experiments shot directly into that mirror. I made a little stop motion test to see how the effect appeared in motion. Very very interesting.

Interesting enough to buy a larger mirror to possibly shoot several scenes of the film.
First quick test shots utilizing the small mirror. The final shots will be less "psychedelic" and more planned.
Shot of Lona's toad spread from my precious 1962 copy

Monday, December 09, 2013

She's So Vein

That really worked! I love the way the arteries and veins on the old goatwoman Rana's hands have come out.  The silk and painted elastic as applied on both sides of both hands on left. How these look when papered under several layers of cream washi on right.

Loads of nice wrinkles and pulsating blood in her veins visible now. Totally worth the effort to add this detail. Hands are very important and this puppet's wisdom and age are a large part of her character.

I'll next tend to her nails with layers of wood glue for a translucent, shell-like finish.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

That's Really Underhanded

Unfortunately, it occurred to me that since I still needed to cover the Rana puppet with a top layer of cream washi, this would be a good time to add a bit of under-the-skin architecture.

I cut small circles of brown crepe paper and glued them onto knuckles that needed more buckling. I painted gossimer floss elastic cord with ultramarine blue acrylic paint mixed with elastic fabric adhesive. These cords were glued in place on the insides of her wrists and the backs of her hands. Then I picked up a clump of silk threads that happened at that moment to be on the studio floor. Pulled apart the red-colored fibers and glued them down with elastic glue haphazardly as well. I used a wood glue manicure on her nails to make them rigid. And added a dot of wool felt in the place where the bump of the wrist bone would show.

Underlying Architecture.

I say it was unfortunate because when I get these ideas--that's it--I get fixated on seeing whether it will work like a dog digging for a bone. Rana is an old woman and as I age I see my own hands getting "cords" and veins and wrinkly knuckles and sort of more of a gnarled look as I use my hands a lot. I thought this old woman's hands should have that same sort of feeling.

Not anatomically realistic (I didn't make the cords white and the veins blue as they really appear under the skin.) just more how older hands feel. I'm hoping the end effect, after the new additions are covered under layers of paper, will simply feel right, and be felt as an old Halfland woman's as she goes about her business.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Look Who Rolled Into Town!

Little while ago got to meet Christine's! ceramicist artist mother from Connecticut, Rachel, and their dear New York artist and friend Marge. They were able to come see 1/2L during their trip to see Christine! and Company(!) It was lovely to meet them both and hear about some of the art they enjoy making.

I invited them both to, of course, make a fish or whatever they'd care to for the film. And I was delighted to so far receive one of Rachel's truly wonderful rock characters made from one found in Christine's garden. I love how Rachel brings out the natural features present in a rock so that the personality seems fully alive. It's a perfect Halflandian contribution.

Thank you so much, Rachel and Marge for visiting!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hair All About It!

Painted Almaloy wire mottled brown and grey to camo under the hair, let dry. Added bulks of sheep wool in dark brown tones to these with tons of messy matte medium. I layered on strands of white goat hair to make them looked aging and grey, like my own.

I forgot to wait until Rana's skin was lighted with another layer of paper before adding on the hair--but the moment was seized... Began by folding the wooly wire lengths in half and hot gluing them onto the puppet's head, careful to work around her animation-active ears and fixed horns in her head.
Carried on around the back, filling in with the bulked lengths until her entire head was covered. I left a few stiffened strands poking out here and there to add realism to her later hair styles. Turned the pupp upside down to fill in the hairline at the nape of her neck as her hair will be worn partially up half the time.
Letting my hands work without my head being in charge, I felt the dark hair wasn't a match for Rana's tawny goat skin leg hair color. It was too jarring a color difference for me. So I reached into the "amazing box of all supplies" curated through the years for each puppet, and pulled out a bag of Gotland sheep fibre in perfect honey-shaded ringlets that I'd bought a few years back from my Slovakian Shepherdess living in Scotland.  When I topped Rana's hair base with thin wafts, invisibly affixed with hot glue, the combination of color and texture leaped off the puppet and brought her to life right before my eyes! I have become 100% fully obsessed with making Halfland now more than ever.

I continued for several hours until her hair was sheathed in the Gotland from roots to ends, and from top side to underside. I worked hard to make the natural curls in the fiber lay organically and yet also permanently hold their place until the wires are repositioned.
Once done, I sopped more matte medium onto the ends of each tress-bundle and wound a finishing ringlet onto the plastic handle of many paint brushes, clipped on via pegs overnight to dry into that ideal tapering shape.

The results are AMAZING!!! Here we now have the puppet's hair that she can wear down at night in the cottage for bed and it also easily wires up for daytime halfbuns in the back. Fully animatable, natural looking, wise old goat woman hair!

Rana done got her hair did! YAY!

Tengucho Very Mucho

Made a special trip to Hiromi papers (the most superb selection of Japanese washi outside of Japan in my book) at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica this week to get more of the very perfect washi for Halfland puppet skins. They had 10 colors* to choose from! I also bought a sheet in tea green that may be nice for the Yanu mothman puppet as well.

I had used their machine made Color Tengucho Series in light pink ($5.76/sheet) to make main character Rana's undertone structure intending to add a layer of tinted paint on top to lighten and shade it. But having a paper finish was giving me a handmade look that I had to keep going with. This time I bought three sheets of their Tengucho (made from 100% Thai Kozo† Machine Made in Kochi, Japan. Kozo is Mulberry bark) in neutral to top over the pink and tone it down.

The secret to this process working for me is the hand tearing I do to the paper before beginning to paste. First I tear the tiniest portion of the outer edge of the 25"x37" sheets off, side by side, until only the heart of the paper is left without anything remotely straight. No no no straight edges in papier mâché ever ever ever. see how sheer the Tengucho is over my hand upper left. Middle top shows a macro of how the fiber in the paper looks around each and every stamp-sized piece of it that I make ready to use. This type of hand work goes nicely with a movie. Multi task! I bag the torn pieces in labeled bags so that I know for certain what I'm about to apply to the puppet.

The Tengucho is so sheer that while wet, one layer of it applied with Aleene's elastic glue hardly shifted the pink color at all. But two or three layers of it, once dry, did the trick perfectly. One of my favorite results of the puppet so far is her elbow, center bottom. The pale paper skin over the strong pink underneath looks so natural with wrinkles. The blotchy sort of pinky fleshy result of this double layering, right bottom, is an uncanny match for my skin color. Wonder what animator made me?

Kozo (Mulberry) bark is used in approximately 90% of the washi made today. Kozo was originally found in the mountain wilderness of Shikoku and Kyusu Islands. It became a cultivated plant used especially for paper and cloth making.  The fibers are longer than in washi made from Mitsumata and less expensive than those made of

* Colors available (online as well); Light Pink, Red, Light Green, Tea Green, Black, Royal Blue, Purple, Pale Blue, Beige, Chocolate

Saturday, November 09, 2013

There Are No Words For It

This gif Paul found shows how one of the title sequences with a large transparent paper leaf and the silhouette of a lace making spider (already built) peeking over an edge will aim to look.
I'll cast one of the large Answer Tree leaves in washi (not as fibrous as the test leaf above was) and strongly back light it (with the spider puppet on it) with "almost wording" revealed from embedded in an inner layer...

Additional titling, that actually needs to be read by humans, will be ambiguously created out of rug fringe as seen in our house above, or similar to the twig, shadows, webbing, veining, etc. seen again in the examples below.

There will be no proper language seen in Halfland as it exists in a world without any. However, I would like to name the "chapter" starts with evocative words like "Kettle"or "Season", etc. and I'd like the title name of Halfland to appear, nearly, for those who are keyed into the looking for an official title.

I hope simply to sign the pieces like a painting vs. a film. The end credits, if I'm able to do them as I'd like, may be filled with photos of everyone whose contributed to the film series, in person, online, or otherwise. As many shots as I have of what these people working on what they actually added to the project, and brief line about them, their own websites, etc. Everyone's story is so wonderful.
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