Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Feelin' Groovy

I worked almost all night to finish (this big commission), made final changes this morning, took a couple of reference photos, packed it all up piece by piece... and before close of business hours today I was able to head over to FedEx and send it on its merry way to Paris. Phew.

That was a lot of work and I'm so happy it's over. Simon & Garfunkels 'Feelin' Groovy' sums up my mood perfectly. Take a look at some snaps of the miniature fruit commission below and look out as I'll be able to update you on 'Myrtle' and other fun things.... just as soon as I finish a cane toad commission for another client...

"...I've got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life I love you, all is groovy... "

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Big Apple....... Commission

Wondering if I took that crazy Paris commission - mentioned in my first blog update of this year (here)? Well of course I did, and it actually became a larger order than 300 miniature sculpted pieces of fruit... the client requested hundreds of perfect little miniature pieces - all with a realistic finish and to scale.

In my typical fashion I'm working 10+ hour days, stopping only for essential interruptions, such as one day at Disneyland during the 3-day weekend. See my photo at the end of this post of one of my favourite rides - gorgeous lit up like that isn't it?!

So... a few more days to complete this giant Snow White apple undertaking and I'll be able to get back to things a little more fun - like 'Myrtle the Witch' and 'The Hidden World'. Stay tuned here or at the Facebook page for updates on those projects in a week or so...

Here are some photos of my work in progress which I took this morning whilst the next batch of fruit sculpts was being hardened in the clay oven...

Past project based on Snow White theme (2012)
Disneyland - Jan 2014

Friday, 10 January 2014

A Stint in Print

Taking a break from designing a newly commissioned miniature set piece (dark fairy-tale themed kitchen) to update some more magazine features of my work from the very end of last year. You can find almost all published features to date on my blog's About page as well.
So below are features from two American publications and one UK publication from November and December of last year. Two featured front cover spots.
As usual, everything featured was designed, made and photographed by myself.

- Dragon eggs for breakfast (article titled 'Trendy Witch's Kitchen'), Nov 2013 - GMC Publications.
- Commissioned Christmas scenes including food and furniture, featured Dec 2013 - Warners Group Publishing.
- Christmas foods and elves at the workstation, Dec 2013 - Ashdown Publishing. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014


Anyone good at hanging doors? How about doors on hinges which measure 7 mm (1/4") and using 3 mm (2/16") screws...? Happy task...

I built this door out of basswood cut into strips using a stanley knife (X-Acto blade) and assembled with wood glue. Take a look at the photos below to see the painting and decorating part. Aiming to fit it into the door frame of the cottage today. Some photos of the terrain in progress as well (taken just before Christmas).

Past links about this project:-
Cottage update 4

Cottage update 3

Cottage update 2

Cottage update 1

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Window of Opportunity

It was months ago that I finished creating the miniature 1:12 scale cottage. When I can get the time I'll finish the terrain beneath it (wire mesh and plaster). More about that in a few days.

So here are some photos I took along the way last year. The roof was finished with Celluclay (I'll upload a video demo of that to Vimeo soon), I painted and textured the thatch, put in lattice windows and added moss and aging on the thatch and up the walls.

This is of course a whimsical fairy tale interpretation of a little English / Welsh cottage and is not historically accurate. It has the things you'd expect - it's cruck-framed, has thatch, oak timbers, wattle and daub walls... but then it also has things that would have been utterly inaccurate for the time, such as a stone base, chimney and glazed windows. If you want to know why those things would have been impossible then read my little history lesson about late mediaeval / early Tudor cottages below.

Building in the Middle Ages
A thatched cruck-framed cottage built in the late mediaeval era (1400s / early 1500s) would have been constructed with an oak-frame and the walls made up of wattle and daub, then white washed with a lime plaster. (Wattle and daub was the way to build houses even into early Tudor times as stone, brick and even wood was expensive. Wattle is the mesh you made first with tightly woven sticks such as hazel. Daub was the 'cement' mixture you applied in damp workable balls known as 'cats' over the top. Daub was made of a mixture of clay, dung and sand mixed with straw, hair and flax to bind it.) My family home in Oxfordshire was built in this way in the 1500s. So far my cottage is accurate - apart from the stone I added to it.

A chimney would never have been seen on a tiny modest cottage. Chimneys were invented in the 1100s but were only for the extremely rich. Before this time the rich had braziers which were iron 'baskets' to hold fire and they stood in the center of rooms / great halls below a hole in the roof to allow smoke to escape. So, chimneys were not the norm even in modestly well-off houses until half-way through the reign of Elizabeth I when the affordable production of fireproof chimney materials meant you didn't have to use scarce stone. Chimneys became possible for the very well-off and allowed people to build a second and third storey to their houses. A chimney was a prime status symbol. My tiny cottage would have had an open hearth in the centre of it's one room and a hole in the thatch for the smoke to escape.

Fast forward another 40 years towards the end of Elizabeth I's reign and you'd start to see glazed windows - the new and very expensive way to show off to the neighbours. The poor - certainly anyone who lived in a packed-earth floor dwelling like my cottage would still have had small windows (holes in the wall more accurately) with greased paper / cloth or animal hides to allow in a little light whilst keeping out draughts. There's no way it had glazing!

But my whimsical cottage is coming from Tall Tales after-all...

Lecture over. Take a look at some work in progress photos below. I'm busy on a commission these days but will make sure I update this blog again in a day or two with the making of the front door and other things...

Past links about this project:-

Cottage update 3

Cottage update 2

Cottage update 1

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

HAPPY 2014!

Yes, I'm a tad late (jetlag and crazy schedules shall be my excuse), still, Happy New Year all the same! Hope everyone has a successful and productive 2014.

I spent Christmas in England with family, flew back into LA just in time for what was actually my first ever NYE in LA. -Funny since I have lived on-off in America since 2009.

Just as I did at the beginning of 2013, and the beginning of 2012, I had a look back at what I did last year and condensed it into a little snapshot of images below. From re-locating to America with 9 suitcases and finding an apartment I love in Los Feliz, to traveling around California (San Francisco, San Diego, Big Sur) and a trip to the Canary Isles (off the Northwest coast of Africa), 10 more features about my work in magazines (including 3 more front cover spots), finally having the time and space to build the first large set for 'Myrtle the Witch' and working on the characters for the film. As well as continuing to sell my work in over 40 countries worldwide, I also had my miniature work commissioned for a shop in Canada and a display in Paris.
This year will hopefully be quite different. If I am ever to advance with 'Myrtle the Witch' then I need to cut back on commissions and allow myself to work at least 10 hours a week towards this film. This is my goal this year - say no to commissions (well a lot of them) and focus on Myrtle.

..... and as I say that an email received at 3 am this morning from Paris stares at me awaiting a response.... a client needs 300 miniature pieces of fruit for a museum. That's 2 months rent. No... must decline.. must work on Myrtle....! Okay, maybe just this one last big commission for the time being. 

Stay on top of my progress and be involved with the short film 'Myrtle the Witch' by clicking over to 'like' the Facebook page for Tall Tales Productions.

Moving back to America - (Los Feliz, LA)
Travelling around CA, attending a ball in LA
Sets and props for Myrtle the Witch
Miniatures and workspace
Shooting for 4th July article
General miniature foods by commission

Miniature foods for magazine feature and cover
Starting to create characters for 'Myrtle the Witch'
'Myrtle the Witch' characters and illustration
General miniatures and 'Myrtle the Witch' character.

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