Tuesday 30 December 2014

the Unusual Suspects

This line-up of elves is brought to you by Tall Tales Productions...!

I promised a few photos of the making of the characters of the Father Christmas / Santa Workshop (as seen here) and so here it is. Don't miss the previous post about constructing the set as well.

The characters were all made using polymer clay and are in one inch (1:12) scale. The elves have aluminium wire necks and legs, for added support. but the very simply designed penguin and snowman do not. All were finished with chalk pastel pigment and / or paint. Take a look at some of the steps below and as always, feel free to email me with any queries. I am still selling elves at the moment, but will finish at the end of Jan 2015.

As you can see, I started with the heads and hardened them separately. The feet and hands were also hardened separately before being attached. They were assembled and painted in stages.

Don't forget you can right-click image and 'open in new tab'. That way you can zoom.

The penguin had candy glued to him, which was also made using polymer clay. 

Saturday 27 December 2014

Designing and building the Workshop

Because people always ask to see photos of the process, I now take 'making of' photos much more frequently.

The last big piece I made (which is currently being exhibited at Creature Features, Burbank), is the 'Father Christmas Workshop' (US English - 'Santa's Workshop'). Here are some work-in-progress photos for you.

See the finished piece here.

Check back here (or the Facebook page) in a few days for a 'making of' the other furniture and the elves.

In a nutshell...
I always start by doing a few quick sketches. (Might want to right click and open the image in a new tab, so you can zoom). You can see below that I hadn't decided if it would be elves making toys (like rocking horses and dollhouses) or if they'd be making gingerbread houses and confectionery. Ultimately I knew I didn't want Father Christmas (Santa) in the scene, but I did want a conveyor belt and several elves. After a few drawings I decided to add a window with an outdoor scene, a tree with lights and a large kooky Welsh dresser (hutch) on the back wall.

Here's a basic step-by-step. I started with some large plywood pieces and used scratch paper to plot the basic size and shapes in the scene. Then when I knew what the measurements would be, I cut the wood and assembled. The windows were cut out and whole scene painted with a white base coat. The walls of the main room were finished and floor laid. Then it got more interesting. The 'outdoor' scene was created with wire mesh, plaster of Paris and paint. It needed to light up (so that you could see the outdoor scene, and it would look like daylight outside the windows), so I created a frosted perspex ceiling with a string of LED lights above it, to cast a soft even light. The snowman was attached to a dowel that came from within the plaster of Paris snow mound. Coloured lights were also added to the tree (whilst all cables were completely hidden).
The windows were made (more on that below), outdoor scene was finished by nailing and gluing those inner walls in. The candy cane columns were put in, the furniture glue-gunned down, and the removable perspex (Plexiglas) display case added.

I used wooden dowels as candy cane columns. They were first painted white, then I used masking tape to stencil over the pink/red stripes. The wooden floor was laid and painted with a mixture of pinks and blue washes.

I wanted the windows to be off kilter, like the furniture I made, so I cut basic straight holes in the walls, but then made the window frames wonky. The frames were cut using a Stanley knife (X-Acto blade) and I carved and sanded the edges into fun wonky shapes. The wood was basswood. I used epoxy to attach the perspex 'glass' to the back side of the windows. The frames were painted red-pink, then dry-brushed with white and the glass 'panes' were frosted. I added scenic scatter snow to the outside window ledges, and finished the other side of the walls with brick texture (not that it's easy to see it through the window).

The furniture was made using basswood and paints. This shelf has hand-blown glass jars (made for me by a glass blower in NY) filled with candy I made using polymer clay.

The conveyor belt was harder to make than perhaps it looks! I wanted it to be off kilter, again, and so it meant making it first out of paper, and adjusting the design until it felt right. I took the paper one apart and used the pieces as templates to create the shape with foam core, basswood and heavy cardstock. It was a fun challenge making the 'slide' part for the gingerbread houses to drop down onto a lower section of conveyor belt. I also made the top of it curve up and down so that the gingerbread houses would get a bumpy ride. The final details were simply painted onto cardstock, cut out with tiny scissors, painted with paper glue mixed with hologram glitter and attached.

Stay tuned for the making of the elves and other furniture...!

Friday 26 December 2014

Merry Christmas - I'm stuffed!

This is very unlike me, and will probably never happen again, but today I decided to pop together a recipe card and upload it to this blog!

As a Brit living in California, I often miss English foods, and never more so than at Christmas. This year I didn't fly home to the UK (7 trips across the Atlantic and 4 across the Pacific seemed like enough flying this year), so I ignored the warm Los Angeles weather outside my window, opened a bottle of European wine, cooked as many typically British ingredients as I could get my hands on and pretended I was back in Blighty!

One of the things I did was pork, chestnut, apple and sage stuffing. I gather that adding meat to stuffing is unusual in California, and since this is my own adapted recipe, I'm sharing it here. Just right-click the below recipe card image, and open in a new tab. Then you'll be able to see it at full rez. It's really easy and it seemed to go down well with my American guests!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

I'll update very soon with something much more in keeping with a blog about film-making, drawing and miniatures. How about a 'making of' about the Christmas Elf Workshop...? Check back in a day or two.

PS This is my street on Christmas Day! Gotta love LA.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Another Cover, another Exhibition!

In case you missed it, I just got back a couple of days ago from China, where my second exhibition of this month is currently being held!

I put some photos of the finished pieces they commissioned here, and I'll share lots of photos of the event, of awesome Shanghai, and of the making of the miniature scenes soon. 

(The other exhibition of my work, in Burbank, California was also blogged about here).

Below is a photo of the venue that the exhibition is being held at, the IFC in Shanghai (IFC, 上海) and my meal that evening after the press conference!

Also, fun fact of the day, my name in Chinese is 卡罗琳麦克法兰瓦. 

In other news, I was so pleased to receive my copy of a miniature magazine which featured me on the front cover this December. Here are some photos of that article.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

迷你 Show in Shanghai

Whilst my whimsical 'Father Christmas / Santa's Workshop' piece is still being exhibited in Burbank at Creature Features (details here), I will be flitting off to Shanghai for an exhibition of some of my more realistic miniature scenes.

Each miniature model scene was created by myself with a high level of realism, and all in 1:12, one inch scale. The scenes include a bakery, English sweet shop, traditional English Christmas dinner, a garden, a train station, a kitchen and a living room all decked out for Christmas. In Chinese; 迷你面包店, 迷你糖果店, 迷你圣诞晚餐, 迷你花园, 迷你火车站, 迷你厨房, 迷你客厅.

Whilst in Shanghai I will be lecturing on the topic of miniature set building and teaching a class on three of the days I am out there. Will share more photos of the event and press clippings when I'm back. What a fun way to end the year 2014!

Monday 8 December 2014

Working hard or hardly working?!

"I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."

~ This quote, by Jerome K Jerome sprang to mind when I had glued the very last busy elf into this 'Father Christmas Workshop'. (US English - 'Santa's Workshop').

I completed this piece within 300 hours over the past 3 weeks. Yep - 3 weeks. That meant living only to work on this piece, so I was certainly busier than the elves I portrayed. It is currently being exhibited at Creature Features in Burbank, Los Angeles, which is a very cool place for film buffs and people who seek out the extraordinary. The exhibition runs until the first week of January.

I took some photos of the scene the day before the exhibition opened. It is 1:12 (one inch) scale and everything was made by myself out of polymer clay, wood, plexiglas, plaster and fabrics. It has lighting which can run off either battery or the mains. It's solidly built and everything is attached, so it can be shipped worldwide.
If you're interested in purchasing it then please do visit Creature Features and take a look at it. After the exhibition ends, if it has not sold you can email me here to buy it directly. Whilst the exhibition runs you may only buy it through the gallery.

Off to Shanghai, China on Wednesday for my next exhibition... will try and post a bit about that one before I go!

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