Wednesday 20 July 2016

Stargazing and Flight

Creating the starry skies for my Greek witch (previous post about her here) made me think about Eilmer - a monk who lived in England over a thousand years ago, and who loved to gaze at the stars.

Quick history lesson - feel free to skip this section if you're 'only' interested in sculpture / miniatures / filmmaking! ....
Eilmer was special. Living in Malmesbury abbey in the 11th century - at a rough time when Viking raids happened around him, the inquisitive and visionary Eilmer did two things that others had not before. Studying the skies with a scientific eye, he was the one to note that if you lived long enough you could see a comet come round again.*
He was also one of the first to fly. Perhaps inspired by the Greek stories of Daedalus and his escape from the Labyrinth using wings fashioned from wax and feathers (which we know Eilmer read), Eilmer created his own wings using willow and parchment. He climbed to the top of the Saxon bell tower and jumped, gliding 200 meters before crashing and crippling both his legs. He lived to old age, recalling his flight adventure "and explaining the failure of his great enterprise with wry humour. It was his own fault, he would say. He forgot to fit a tail to his hinder parts."*

I painted the starry skies for my astronomer witch on particle board using first chalkboard paint (nice and matte) and then flicking acrylics using a toothbrush. Not my current toothbrush. That paint never comes out.

Watch the process of creating the witch here at my new little video at my Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel.

Also, since you've been requesting it, I will be making prints and posters of this scene available at my webshop here very soon. Please feel free to email me directly if you want to reserve one.

The Greek witch with her starry night skies

Finally, in my Southern California adventures, I finished up the Greek witch and then flew off to San Francisco in my friend's plane. Flying in a little Cirrus is exhilarating - partly because it's so damn unsafe and I often wonder how close I am to death on take off and landing (despite the pilot being an exceptional one), and also because I can sit right up with the controls and marvel at the flying machine that it is. I wonder what Eilmer would think if he was sitting there with me.

Here are some iPhone snaps of my mini break in San Francisco and the flight over!

* Words about Eilmer the monk taken directly from Robert Lacey's absolutely brilliant book 'Great Tales From English History'. If you only ever read one history book in your lifetime - let it be this one. If you have no interest in history - this will change your mind.

Thursday 7 July 2016

It's all Greek to Me

Credit to all those that knew the phrase "It's all Greek to me" was written by Shakespeare!

I have another witch for you today, and this one is of course.... Greek. She is part of the project 'Good Witches Bad Witches' and was designed and hand sculpted as a miniature maquette by me. Please check out more characters at the Tall Tales Productions website here.

I have tried to make my witches relatively contemporary (stuck in the past at times regarding their dress sense, but still part of the modern world.... ish). However, this Greek witch doesn't look all that modern! Whoops. I did however give a lot of thought to Greek culture and the momentous things the Greeks have done for us. The Greeks 'invented' democracy. They were pioneers in so many fields including the sciences, geometry, philosophy, maths, astronomy, history... I love that it was Pytheas who described Great Britain as a 'wonky triangle' when he was the first to circumnavigate it. In medicine, doctors still refer to the Hippocratic oath, instituted by Hippocrates, however despite the Greeks being pioneers in the study of anatomy, their unusual ideas about the so-called 'four humours' of the body perhaps misled English doctors right through the middle ages!

Anyway, I tried to convey my inordinate respect and gratitude to the Greeks for their contributions to the world by making my Greek witch a wise seer-type serious witch and an astronomer, complete with an armillary sphere - also invented by the Greeks.

The Greek witch has owls for 'familiars' (pets), Greek 'meander' patterned dress, gladiator sandals and of all my witches she has the warmest skin tone yet! Stay tuned as witches of other races will be coming soon.

Now a little note to my Greek friends and fans. Please scroll past to see the images of the behind the scenes process.

Έλληνες φίλοι μου και θαυμαστές μου, αυτό είναι ένα σημείωμα ειδικά για σας!

Αν ακολουθείτε αυτό το blog, τότε πιθανότατα γνωρίζετε ήδη ότι σχεδιάζω μια ταινία με τίτλο «Καλές Μάγισσες Κακές Μάγισσες» (Good Witches Bad Witches) και ότι δημιουργώ πολλούς από τους χαρακτήρες των μαγισσών από όλο τον κόσμο. Είμαι μια καλλιτέχνιδα στο Tall Tales Productions (website) και η δημιουργία αυτών των χαρακτήρων είναι πολύ διασκεδαστική και έχω βάλει πολλή σκέψη σε κάθε σχέδιο. Είναι γλυπτά σε μικρογραφία χρησιμοποιώντας πηλό. Μέχρι στιγμής έχω ήδη κάνει την Αγγλίδα, τη Σκωτσέζα, την Ιρλανδή, την Ουαλή, τη Γαλλίδα, τη Γερμανίδα, την Ιταλίδα, τη Γερμανίδα, την Αμερικάνα, την Ολλανδή και τη Ρωσίδα μάγισσα! Ο καινούριος χαρακτήρας είναι μια Ελληνίδα μάγισσα.

Προσπάθησα να τιμήσω τουλάχιστον μία απίστευτη συνεισφορά που η Ελλάδα έχει κάνει στον κόσμο και ως εκ τούτου αυτή η μάγισσα είναι ένας αστρονόμος με ένα σφαιρικό αστρολάβο. Ελπίζω να την δείτε με χιούμορ και να θυμάστε ότι δε θα ήθελα να προσβάλω κανένα με τους χαρακτήρες μάγισσσες. Είναι μια σοφή και ιδιόρυθμη μάγγισα και η φούστα της έχει σχέδιο μαιάνδρου.

Αν σας αρέσει το project, μπορείτε να το ακολουθήσετε στη σελίδα του Facebook και σε Instagram και το Twitter! Ευχαριστώ!

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