Wednesday 22 October 2014

Which Witch?

A couple of extras for the short film Myrtle the Witch are no longer needed, so in their redundancy I've made them available for sale this Halloween. Here are some photos of these characters. Made using wire, polymer clay, paint, silk and other mixed media. They're actually in 1:12 scale, so they're smaller than you'd think. See a previous post about making them here.

Once you've become tired of scrolling through witch photos below, you'll see more of my Halloween costume which I have barely worked on at all since I've been so madly busy lately! In the words of the now fallen Rolf Harris, "can you guess what it is yet?" (Previous post about costume here).

And in other news, I saw 'The Book of Life' at a screening at FOX Studios on Sunday and thought the look of the film was quite unique and imaginative. Worth a look, if only for the design of the world. The New York Street at FOX looks so much fun in the California heat, with palm trees visible just feet away!

Tuesday 21 October 2014

My Neck of the Woods

Halloween is fast approaching and it's my favourite time of the year. It puts me in mind of things like Michael Jackson's Thriller music video which I watched and watched to death as a teen. Driving home the other day it occurred to me that I (the girl from a minuscule English village that Brits haven't even heard of), now live right around the corner from two of the Thriller music video locations. (And I was also lucky enough to meet the director of the video, John Landis last weekend...!)

The cinema at the beginning of the music video, where Michael Jackson and Ola Ray watch the Werewolf film, is just 15 minutes away from my house. It's the Downtown Palace Theater.

And the spooky house that Ola Ray runs into towards the end of the music video, is a Victorian house on Carroll Ave, which is 10 minutes from my house.

This is the house - then and now! (Photo not taken by me. Photographer unknown.)

Actually all the houses on Carroll Avenue are gorgeous, and yesterday I took a photo of one of the houses which has been decorated in a fantastically Angelino way for Halloween.

Click to zoom.

But enough about my neck of the woods. Over at Tall Tales Productions I have completed some Halloween Jack O' Lanterns and crows (actually the crows have been blogged about before, here) and as usual, am selling clean out of everything this Halloween. Actually I am really looking forward to Halloween being over so I can stop creating for collectors and get back to something filmy.

And whilst we're on the topic of how Angelinos do Halloween, take a look at these photos below, taken by my little sister in Villandry. This is how they do Halloween in France. Wonderful isn't it?!

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Leave it Out

Last night I dreamt about leaves. Tiny, miniature hand-painted leaves. The night before I also dreamt about leaves. This is what happens when you perform the same leaf-making task 400 times over.

So, I've been making hundreds of leaves and completed three identical green pumpkin patches - one for an exhibition, two for sale elsewhere. Aside from that, I have been putting something together for my first appearance in a Dutch magazine, working on some other pieces (which I'll share when they're further along) and... best of all... I met director John Landis over the weekend!

What a great time of year to meet the director of one of my all-time favourite horror films. LACMA did a screening of 'An American Werewolf in London' (a film I know so well I can quote almost every line of dialogue before the actor says it) and I was able to have a chat with John Landis himself, and his talented costume designer wife, Deborah Nadoolman Landis. It's Halloween this month and if you haven't seen 'An American Werewolf in London' (1981), then I'd make seeing it this scary season a top priority. It's hugely underrated and totally genius. Not to mention the jaw-droppingly fantastic special make-up effects by Rick Baker. It was the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Make-up (the category was created that year).

Here are some photos of leaves and the base for the pumpkin patch. The fence is willow, the base is celluclay and mixed media, and the leaves are paper.

Monday 6 October 2014

From Ghoulies and Ghosties

I love that old passage from a Scottish / Cornish prayer.
"From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!"

It's Halloween this month, I have three events scheduled for it, and yesterday I braved the 106 degree weather and went to the amazing garment district in downtown LA to buy leather, tartan and gold embroidery thread for the costume I'm making... I'll blog about it later in the month once I've made it.

Aside from that I am preparing some pieces for an exhibition of my work (coming up) and also pieces for Halloween this year. Over the weekend I received my copy of another magazine I make an appearance in. It's five pages plus the front cover. See a previous blog post about this project here. The About section of my blog shows a snapshot of all my print features / books to date.

So... here's a glimpse at my workspace, below. The pieces are not yet finished.... just a few ghoulish green pumpkins and squash that will form part of one exhibition piece.

And here's a snap of the bits and bobs I bought downtown. Correctly guess who I'm going to be for Halloween this year and I'll reward you with a gift coupon for my shop...!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Think outside the Box

Does anyone reading this blog not know that 'The Boxtrolls' came out last weekend?! No, thought not. Living up to their reputation, Laika (creators of Coraline and ParaNorman) delivered another visually stunning masterpiece of stop-motion film-making, in 3D - and it was simply flawless.

Only recently I stood at a party, in the middle of a crowd of Dreamworks artists and declared that no-one anticipated seeing 'The Boxtrolls' with more eagerness than myself. At that moment a tall and unassuming chap entered the conversation with the response that he might be just as keen..... seeing as he wrote it. Yep - that's how I met the brilliant writer of this film - Adam Pava. (Doh).

I usually encourage people to go and watch these rare and beautifully made stop-motion films for the aesthetics, but for this film I praise the writing as well. Travis Knight (Laika) described the story as "Dickens by way of Monty Python". Sounds about right. The script was loosely based on book 'Here Be Monsters' by Alan Snow and became a tale about a small English town of toffs with an underground community of misunderstood 'boxtrolls' who raise an orphaned human boy. Knight went on to describe the film as "a moving human story with timelessness and powerful emotional resonance." So there you have it - go and see it, enjoy the story and don't switch off in awe of the visuals!
I watched it last weekend and was hugely honoured to be invited to the celebratory Boxtrolls party at the home of the writer. I replaced the label on a mini bottle of Moet, with a Boxtrolls Champagne label I made. A small gesture considering the insanely impressive cheese display at this party. Watch the film and you'll get the cheese reference...!

Here are some gorgeous stills and behind-the-scenes photos of the making of 'The Boxtrolls'. There were 79 miniature model sets and 20,000 props created. (The last photo shows the scale quite well - much larger than most of my work). The seamless facial expressions of the characters were created using 3D prints (see first photo below) which the puppeteers switch out as they animate. There were 53,000 3D printed faces used in the film for all of the characters. It took the animators a week each to complete 3.7 seconds of footage.

For clarification I should add that I didn't work on this film!

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