Sunday 11 December 2016

A Trip Down Nettlebed Lane

Before I head off to Blighty (UK) for a month for the holiday season, allow me to take you on a trip down Nettlebed Lane...

The witches of 'Good Witches Bad Witches' are going up in the world, starting with an attractive new street of shops. Nettlebed Lane will have a pet shop (for all their 'familiar' needs), a tea room (well, naturally) and a Tudor grocery store. And that's just to begin with.

I've started constructing this miniature model set in 1:12 scale and you get to see the first glimpse. There's a video here with the shortest of clips (I quickly filmed what I've built thus far as it sits on my workbench) and here are just a very few photos as well.

In other news...

What's the deal with the book, you ask?!

Many of you may know that I talked about an 'Art of Good Witches Bad Witches' book which I had hoped would be out this year in time for the holidays. I hate to disappoint, truly I do, but due to some legal issues and some commission work Tall Tales had to take on during this busy time, the book had to get pushed back. I feel terribly sorry about that and am making it up to you by adding pages and another tutorial to the book which was not originally going to be in it. So there - you get extra stuff for the same price! I hope it goes some small way to show that I am sorry for letting you down and really mean it. Your continued interest in my work means a lot to me and is never taken for granted.

There will be an announcement about the book in January when I am back from Europe and I may take pre-sales at that time. We'll see! I'll keep you posted. :)

In other other news....

I leave sunny Southern California for beautiful England, and yesterday I made fudge as gifts for all in my huge family. There are many differences between England and America, and just another funny little difference I recently found out is that our fudge is not at all alike!

American fudge is chocolate in flavour, brown in colour and smooth / chewy in texture. English / British fudge is what we would describe as 'fudge coloured' and has a 'fudgy' texture. That's because fudge is such its own thing we'd really use the word 'fudge' as a descriptive adjective! Our fudge is creamy and slightly caramel in flavour, 'camel' in colour and smooth, dense and ever so slightly granular in texture. Fudge was invented in Scotland, where they call it 'tablet'. In the UK all fudge is made the Scottish way and American style 'chocolate' fudge is largely unknown, although chocolate flavoured fudge does exist as a variant, along with clotted cream fudge, whiskey fudge, cherry fudge etc etc. I filmed the cutting of my fudge as the only way I could show the texture. Play video below.

~ Recipe ~

397g can condensed milk
150ml milk
450g demerara sugar
115g butter

1. Place all ingredients into a large non-stick saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

2. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously. 

3. Remove the fudge from the heat and beat until it’s very thick and starting to set (this should take about 10 minutes).

4. Pour into a 20 cm square tin lined with baking parchment and leave to cool before cutting into squares.

See you in 2017! Have a wonderful Christmas / Happy Holidays everyone!

Wednesday 7 December 2016

The Enchanted Potting Shed

You may have caught some behind the scenes of me making these toadstool characters and such a few days ago (here)... well here are some final photos from this project. I'd say more about it if I could, but you know how it is!

Watch me make mandrake seedlings in timelapse over at the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel here.

Don't forget to subscribe!

See a magical glimpse taken of the shoot using my iPhone here or below

Adopt a mandrake seedling / grumpy toadstool via the webshop here.

Enjoy the photos!

Monday 5 December 2016

Whose Pastime is to Make Midnight Mushrooms

Who knew that the title of this post is a Shakespeare quote from 'The Tempest'?!

"...and you whose pastime is to make midnight mushrooms..."

As the year draws to it's close I go through my endless folders and see what was done, what was finished and what's outstanding. It's at this time I often notice that things have been done and not written about.

So here we go! Let's catch up, and allow me to share a toadstool project from September of this year. Grumpy toadstools and mandrake seedlings (I'll write about them later). If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter then you've probably caught videos and images of these things in the making, but if you follow me only here and on Facebook then this post is for you.

I made quite a number of tiny 'terracotta' flower pots (no bigger than thimbles) and proceeded to pot each one with a colourful toadstool and scenic grasses / moss / soil. Learned a lot about toadstools in the process. Did you realise that they grow naturally in such a variety of psychedelic colours? It's amazing. Yellow toadstools (Amanita muscaria var. guessowii) and blue toadstools (Clitocybe odora) and so forth. So inspiring. 
I went on to make crackled glazed pots and filled them with grumpy toadstools with fabulous little faces. Each one of these is a 'one of a kind', and they're available at my webshop here.

See a making of video here...

Behind the scenes photos and more... Enjoy!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Brilliant People

The great Austrian-born filmmaker Billy Wilder once said "The Austrians are brilliant people. They made the world believe that Hitler was a German and Beethoven an Austrian."

On making another European witch - an Austrian this time, I was thinking about how much I loved my trip to Vienna when I was 6 or 7 years old. What a magical place. Plus I just happen to think that the German language is the most attractive, fantastic sounding language. Yes, I know, German is spoken a little differently there, but it's still German, and I love it. ;)

This witch came together very quickly because I'd already designed her and had her clearly in my mind ages ago when I did the witch illustration. Can you point her out?! Unlike most of my character designs which try to embody as much of that culture as possible, this one is a little more vague. I've made her tall, strong, authoritarian, confident and with a big red almost beehive hairstyle. Her Edwardian brooch has a skull on it and she wears stripes. Her 'familiar' (witch's pet) is a black Great Dane. I photographed her next to a can of Red Bull because it's an Austrian drink, created by an Austrian entrepreneur! Didn't know that now did you?! (I didn't either until 2 weeks ago).

I usually share many work-in-progress photos so that you can see how she was created, but this time I am holding some back... partly for this reason! Rest assured, you'll see so much more in my upcoming book. Hope that doesn't cause any disappointment and that you enjoy these photos below.

Don't forget, you can see all my characters from my project - Good Witches Bad Witches ™  here!

In other news.... 

Flown up front with my pilot friend in his Cirrus back to San Francisco again! See the exciting night landing here!

The US election happened earlier this week, which meant that as a Greencard-holding resident here in the US I could observe the election, but not vote. I went to the polling booth here in Los Feliz, Los Angeles, and was thrilled to be invited inside for a minute or two and shown how the machines worked.

And also Halloween, my favourite time of year has come and gone, and I shared a post about what I got up to here.

On work related matters, stay tuned (that means keep checking in on at the Facebook page and Instagram) to see more of the exciting sets I am building for Good Witches Bad Witches  ....!

Please scroll past the note for my Austrian friends to see photos of the new witch - the Austrian Witch (die österreichische hexe)!

Liebe Freunde in Österreich,

hier habe ich eine Nachricht für Euch….

Mit sieben Jahren besuchte ich Wien und verbrachte dort eine ganz wunderbare Zeit. Was für ein schöner Ort ! Dahin möchte ich gerne zurückkehren und mehr über Österreich entdecken.
Als Künstlerin arbeite ich an einem Projekt „ Good Witches Bad Witches“ und modellierte dafür Hexen aus der ganzen Welt. So sind bereits Hexen aus England, Schottland, Frankreich, Italien und anderen Ländern entstanden.

Und diese ist nun die österreichische hexe.Ich stellte sie aus Fimo Material und Draht her. Sie sollte ein bisschen furchteinflößend sein, doch hoffe ich, sie gefällt Ihnen dennoch.

Für Ihr Interesse an meinen Arbeiten und Charakteren möchte ich mich sehr bedanken. Wenn Sie mehr darüber erfahren möchten, können Sie auf meiner Facebook Seite, meinem Instagram, oder über Twitter Informationen erhalten.

Vielen Dank!


Friday 4 November 2016

Me and My Monsters

As a seven year old English girl, innocently drawing vampire bite-holes on my neck using my mum's eyeliner, I never imagined living where the screen monsters I adored came from. I loved 'American Werewolf in London' (and anything Rick Baker was involved in) so much that I wore out the VHS tapes. I grew up with Hammer Horrors and adored Bela Lugosi.

This Halloween almost passed me by. Of course I celebrate it all month with as many Halloween themed events I can get around to, but this year was different. Work and deadlines overtook everything and I sat gloomily in front of my computer working on Halloween night. It was at 9 pm that I glanced at a news story which floated my way. "Visit the 'Best Halloween House in LA'" was all I needed to read. Threw on a Snow White costume and was heading there 5 minutes later. That's another thing I love about LA - I'm right smack in the middle of everything worth knowing about, come Halloween.

The house in question belongs to director Rich Correll. For the entertainment of trick-or-treaters he decks his house and garden with his seriously impressive horror film prop collection, complete with lighting and skeletons dancing on the roof. Actors as zombies and terrifying clowns emerge from behind tombstones in the thick fog that passes across his front lawn. An animatronic witch stirs a cauldron at the front door. A towering Bigfoot looms over visitors in the hallway and Jack Torrance (AKA Jack Nicholson as murderer from 'The Shining') grins at you as you leave with sweets. Another sinister costumed character hands out more candy to the massive crowds which gather outside.

Yes - it really is the best Halloween house in LA.

It was too fantastic to share with photos alone, so I took a quick video (which I've uploaded to my personal YouTube account here) as well.

Note that the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel is here.

I was probably away from my work only an hour - but what a cool way to do Halloween in a flash.

Here's a greeting from the Texan witch of Tall Tales ('Good Witches Bad Witches'). Enjoy the photos below and check back soon for more updates on 'Good Witches Bad Witches'. I have a new witch I just finished sculpting which I will share very soon...

Rick Baker, Halloween is Los Angeles, horror collection, Rich Correll, best house for trick or treating, best house in los angeles, house of horrors

Sunday 30 October 2016

Inspiration : Imitation

If you're an artist then chances are you've read many posts about the dreaded topic of art theft. It's something I'm often sorely tempted to discuss... but don't. Today I will.

A brilliant Disney artist (and lovely chap) Chris Sanders recently wrote about an incident when he was a child and a fellow student in art class copied his idea / design and was given recognition and credit whilst he was not. It's not surprising that he remembers this and wrote about it here.

This did not happen to me when I was a child. It didn't happen to me until seven years ago, which was when I started working as an artist. It was unpleasant.

It's happening more today and with more at stake it is more than unpleasant.

My intellectual property - Good Witches Bad Witches  is the current target. (If you follow this blog then you doubtless know all about this project. If you don't then see more here and here.) Sometimes other artists see my hard work and think "that looks neat, I'm going to do that too"... and that's when the sting that Chris Sanders wrote about comes into play.

My artist friend Stephanie said it better than me when this was happening to her two years ago. She wrote that it's a mistake to confuse theme and style. I agree.

In my case...

A theme could easily be 'witches'.
Many artists before me have designed their own witch characters. Search Google images and see an array of witch designs. (They don't really resemble my characters).
Now more specifically, search Google images for 'polymer clay witch sculpture' and you'll see some more. (None of them resembles mine).

Again, said so very well by my friend Stephanie, "the style is personal to every artist. It’s his/her own point of view of the world s/he sees."
If I choose to sculpt my witch characters using polymer clay and I give them all my same deep furrowed brow (my signature character style), cute bulbous nose and wide eyes, crazy eccentric hairstyles, put them in layers of fun patterned fabrics, stripes and polka dots, patched fabric, knit finger-less gloves, aprons with pockets including kooky objects such as a pet rat, vial of poison, a bone etc... (all running motifs in my work)... then this is my unique interpretation of a witch.

Creating Good Witches Bad Witches ™, writing the stories, coming up with each character, the motifs that makes them a recognizable brand and developing my own style and methods all represents years of solitary hard work. Years of abstaining from social events, proper vacations, sleeping in. The past few years of my life have been dedicated to Good Witches Bad Witches ™.

Since I started it I've had countless people write and tell me how much they enjoy watching the project unfold. People have written me emails, left comments, asked questions, and all this interest in this world I have been steadily building has been such a joy to me. Every comment and social media 'share' has meant something to me and I've never taken peoples' interest for granted.

Unfortunately, I have also had a few people imitate my work - sometimes creating exact design replicas and going on to sell them for profit! So not only was it plagiarism but in the case of Good Witches Bad Witches ™ - copyright infringement - which led to the unpleasant task of issuing letters to let these people know. It makes me question whether or not to share my work so openly with so many, it distracts me from my goals, it's damaging, frustrating and such a shame. Often the people who do it don't intend any malice, but simply do not consider that what they are doing is so incredibly wrong.

Scroll past the conclusion below if you want to learn more about the personal story behind the brand and me, the artist. *

To finish up...!

I say to artists; if you see another artist's unique work that you like - be inspired! Enjoy what others have done before you and let it feed your imagination. Then go on and create your own things, and in your own style. Tell your stories, your way.

Also spoken by the wise and wonderful Stephanie, "imitation is a valuable part of the learning process". But once you upload a copy to the internet then do give credit (and links) to the artist whose work you imitated. Be wary that it's illegal to profit from another's design. And as soon as you've started mastering an art-form there's no need to keep copying - that's when it's time to develop your own style.


* For those interested in the personal story behind me and my work, here it is. And it's about to get personal - something I have never done on this blog before.

I was born in a little village in the English countryside. I fought great obstacles and suffered blood, sweat and tears just to be able to live in the United States - so that I could be in Los Angeles and pursue a career here.

It cost me everything I had. I made it. 

I established Tall Tales Productions. And all the while I wrote. I came up with ideas which were entirely my own, did extensive research and arrived at something I fell in love with and live to work on - Good Witches Bad Witches . If you follow my work then you'll know that I've been writing and designing all these characters - also sculpting them using clay to add visuals to my script. 
Each character I make has a different cultural background. So for each one I research a country and speak to natives (to make sure that nothing is culturally insensitive and that I make the most of the best aspects and traditions of a culture). I think about her character and brainstorm ideas to arrive at the quirks you see in her design - such as pockets full of pet rats (this design) or a hen nesting in her hat (this design). I research costuming, types of cultural design such as for the Swedish witch who has a 'Scandinavian' pattern to her cauldron, created after hours spent trawling through images of viking longboats and relics and then incorporating into my own playful design and figuring out how to carve it around a cauldron. Or researching breeds of owls and how an armillary sphere works for this design

I've spent the past few years developing my own style - my own special unique stamp on each character. I've worked to create running themes in my characters so that people will know at a glance that it's part of  Good Witches Bad Witches  - that it's my work. It's a Caroline McFarlane-Watts character. I've also developed my own techniques through trial and error and countless hours of work, failures, successes. I'm accessible on social media - answering people's questions about how I did something, offering advice and sharing techniques and sources for materials. 
Gratitude to the people who realise and respect this (and credit me as a source of inspiration when I am one to them). 
Huge thanks to those who engage with and share my work. 

So there you have it! A personal insight into the person behind the witches and a bit of my journey. Credit to you if you managed to read this entire waffly post. Soon I'll post something much more uplifting - a new witch character (with perhaps fewer of the work-in-progress shots!)
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