Thursday, 29 January 2015

Starstruck and Hutch

Awards season here in LA is always fun for me because I never stopped being that awkward English girl from a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, who clipped images of Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson from TV Guide and plastered them all over her school textbooks.

Last Saturday was the Producers Guild of America annual awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, and I loved sitting a few tables away from Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, stunning Keira Knightley et al. The highlight was listening to producer Gale Anne Hurd describe how she climbed that ladder as a female producer in the '80s. 

Photo courtesy of John Shearer
Anyway, I owe you photos and explanation as to how I made more of the furniture in the Santa's Workshop miniature piece. People have asked about the hutch, so I've explained below.

Note to non-American English speakers... 'hutch' is not something to keep your pet rabbit in. Here in the US 'hutch' means Welsh dresser. Yes, hutch means dresser. I know... baffled me at first too.

When designing the Santa / Father Christmas Workshop set, my aim was that it shouldn't look too realistic or dollhouse-esq, but like a whimsical, magical little world. I created the furniture to be a bit kooky and asymmetrical. You can see a sketch of the hutch in a previous post here. It should look a bit like a gingerbread house, full of unusual sweets and with painted decals like something from Germany or Switzerland. 

I started by cutting odd shapes of basswood and gluing them together with wood glue. I built up the shelves and sides of the hutch with further pieces of basswood. Each time I glued something down I had to clamp it and wait as basswood easily distorts. 
I cut the top front piece with an arch, to display something decorative inside it, and made sure the heights of the shelves would fit my tiny glass jars.

The candy took days longer than the hutch. Pieces were made by me from polymer clay using a caning technique. I made lids for these tiny glass jars (jars were sourced), filled them with different colourful candy and glued the lids down.

The cupboard doors and drawers didn't need to open, so I made paper templates of different fun shaped door facades, then traced them onto basswood, cut them out, sanded them, stained them with the same wood-stain and glued them down.

I drilled holes into each door facade and glued tiny wooden doorknobs in. This really helps to create the illusion of an opening door / drawer. I also painted detailed tiny patterns at this stage.

Next all I had to do was glue all those tiny glass jars of candy in place, and paint a wooden ladder in a candy cane design. I also added individual pieces of candy on the bottom shelf and tiny folded silk cloths which were ironed and glued into shape beforehand.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

California Dreamin' ~ Happy 2015!

Happy New Year everyone! I am usually off somewhere else for NYE, such as New Orleans, Europe, Vegas etc, but this year I spent it in beautiful Malibu for a change, and watched the sun rise over the ocean on New Year's Day from my balcony. It was brilliant.

I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas / the holiday season and I wish everyone a fun and successful 2015!

Here's a year's round up - the highlights of my 2014. The year started with a giant commission for Paris (see the rows of realistic miniature fruit below), followed by 10 more magazine features of my work, including two front covers, and then two exhibitions on my work - one in LA, one in China. I also flew a plane (Cirrus Sr22), paid a visit to the Grand Canyon, traveled all over China at the beginning of the year, stayed in a chateau in France in May and then wound up back in Shanghai for my exhibition in Dec. I taught workshops in China and appeared in several Chinese newspaper, magazine, web articles and videos. Who'd have though it, eh?!

Check back here soon for behind the scenes of the Shanghai miniatures, new characters for an animation project, and much much more this year!

The 'Big Apple' commission for Paris
Hong Kong, Guilin, Xi-an, Beijing, Shanghai China trip
Editorial work and a ball
Painting characters and micro baking
Chateau in France, and miniature breads
the miniature forest set piece
flying a plane to Catalina, various miniatures
preparing for Halloween and editorial spreads

Barbarella for Halloween 2014, making train station
press conference in Shanghai, China
some pieces for Shanghai exhibition
some pieces for Shanghai exhibition
Burbank exhibition
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