Thursday 16 November 2017

CTN Animation Expo!

As mentioned in my last post here, I have a presence at the CTN (Creative Talent Network) Animation Expo this weekend, and it begins with a soft opening tonight!

It's at the Burbank Convention Center and you find details here. You have options to get a one day pass or all three days (Fri, Sat, Sun). There are panels, presentations from some amazing animation artists, portfolio reviews, book signings... (read the Top 8 Things to do at CTN Expo here!)

My table is located at T217 which is pretty much at the entrance, right. I'm opposite Sony.

If you manage to attend CTN Animation Expo this year then please do come and say hello, and see some of my witches in the flesh (or in the clay). Also, I am unveiling a new piece for the first time at this show! Find out what it is in person, or wait until next week when I tell you about it here on this blog. Okay, here is a tiny clue as to what this piece might be.... (Clue).

Looking forward to seeing some of you soon!


Thursday 2 November 2017

Burn Baby, Burn!

If you're familiar with me or the Tall Tales YouTube Channel, you'll know that Halloween is my favorite time of year.

Let me tell you what I got up to this spooky season and then I'll catch you up with Tall Tales news (or just scroll to the end)!

Aside from being burned at the stake as a witch (as documented in this photo), I spent the evening with a childhood idol. Yep, the witch to rule them all - Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

Re-wind to when I was a scrawny little 7 year old girl in rural England. I popped into a video rental shop with my best friend Sarah Wise. We went for sweets but came out with a VHS tape of 'Elvira; Mistress of the Dark' because she looked too cool on the cover and we had to know what she was all about. I LOVED her. I loved the film. I went around using her cool Valley girl catchphrases in my squeaky little voice. When I wrote my first book 'The Witch's Day' (which got my photo in the local paper) it was with her in mind. She was a big influence. Maybe I wouldn't have created Good Witches Bad Witches ™ if it weren't for Elvira?

Now living in LA I have had the inordinate fortune of meeting the incredible lady behind her Elvira persona - Cassandra Peterson. I was introduced by someone pretty wonderful who I will blog all about (and his company - Tweeterhead) another time soon. But take a peek at his website before then...

Halloween night was spent watching Elvira (aka Cassandra Peterson) perform her fantastic show live at Knotts Scary Farm for the very last time. She was thrilling, hilarious, energetic, wonderful. The dance routines, stage sets and lighting were perfect. And in the finale she came out wearing a dazzling crystal gown, specifically made for the occasion by designer Michael Schmidt.

If you're a fan of Elvira (heck, how could you not be?) I recommend this - the definitive Elvira book. It's gorgeous. Hardback, really nice and big and filled with your favorite photos of her and tonnes of photos you haven't seen. It's amazing. I couldn't put my copy down and as soon as I'd finished thumbing through it I turned back to the beginning and went through it all over again.

You can buy it here.

Here are some of my personal photos of the event at Knotts Scary Farm, Halloween night 2017.

Meanwhile, in the world of Tall Tales Productions...

I will be attending the famous annual CTN Animation Expo this month. Founded by animation talent veteran Tina Price, CTN (Creative Talent Network) hosts this event at the Burbank Convention Center (details here) in Los Angeles and I am thrilled to have a table there this year. If you're based in LA then it's well worth a day or two (event runs Nov 17-19) as it's packed with artists and companies such as Pixar, Disney, Laika, the Jim Henson Company and so forth.

If you make it over there, come and say hi!

Until then I shall be working on something special to be unveiled there.....
elvira, elvira the witch,elvira live, elvira mistress of the dark, elvira vegas act, elvira knotts scary farm, elvira knotts berry farm, elvira halloween, elvira final performance, elvira last performance, cassandra peterson caroline mcfarlane-watts caroline mcfarlane watts cs mcfarlane-watts

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Copy That!

It's been a while since you've hard from me, I know! My apologies for not updating this blog or the Facebook page as often as I'd like. But never forget you can reach me via email or through the contact page of my website, and indeed through any social media places. :)

I took a little hiatus due to an injured arm, which I wrote about here. And then have been busy with commissions, which I'll let you know all about soon.

What else?

Well............... it's a shocker!

A well known and well respected European artist, who has published maybe two dozen books which teach people to sculpt characters using polymer clay, started plagiarizing my work and selling it.

A year ago I wrote about copyright infringement here. I was frustrated and bothered because a few more people had popped up with work that resembled mine just a little too closely for comfort, and who did not credit me as an inspiration either. This story is different. This wasn't an amateur artist who didn't know better and didn't understand copyright infringement laws. This was a career artist who had published her first book teaching others how to work with clay whilst I was still a child playing with dollhouses. She copied my characters of  Good Witches Bad Witches ™. and attended fairs and shows with these characters and boldly sold them to fans. I wont name this artist since the issue is now resolved and I don't want to embarrass her.

How did I find out?
A fan of mine from India attended one of the largest miniature shows in Europe and saw a booth set up with an array of my quirky and instantly recognisable Good Witches Bad Witches ™. She saw a sign beside them which had my name on it. She looked around to see me so that she could say hello. Many who follow this blog know that I'm a diminutive redhead. But no diminutive redhead was around. Instead, presiding over the booth was an older woman and her grey-haired husband. My fan realised what was up, snapped some photos of the witches for sale and sent them straight to me.

This artist had been recreating my designs for almost two years before I found out. She used the work in progress photos on this blog to copy every detail of my designs. That means all the research and brainstorming I put into a costume for one of my witch characters... all the thought, planning and the trials and errors of creating one were handed to her and she simply copied the design exactly without conscience and remade my work for sale. The witches were priced quite highly and after I did a little digging on the internet I found that she'd been selling them to people who believed they were buying original Caroline McFarlane-Watts art - actual character sculpts from Good Witches Bad Witches ™

Personally I see differences in this artist's work and my own. She's left fingerprints where I would not have, and the outcome is not quite as neat and clean. However, if you had seen photos of my work online and were a fan and then spotted a booth at any one of the many shows she went to with her witch characters, you would have recognized the designs, seen the sign with my name on it (!) and thought you were buying a character from Tall Tales Productions (me).

Copyright infringement and identity theft.

The matter was resolved very quickly, but not after a few weeks gathering evidence from online and several exchanges with my solicitor.

Why do I care?
I've spent years building a recognizable brand Good Witches Bad Witches ™, which is enjoyed and followed in many countries around the world. To have my characters recreated by someone else damages my brand. To have my name written on signs alongside work which is not mine nor made to my standard is damaging to my brand. To have my carefully designed characters sold at several fairs in the US and Europe cheats me out of profit for my hard work. If this wonderful fan of mine had not alerted me to this and enabled me to step in, there's a chance she could have published another tutorial book - this time showing people how to make my characters. None of this is acceptable or even legal.

So there you have it! Can you believe someone could be so thoughtless?! So brazen?!

Here are some photos we had to send her along with the cease and dissist.

I'll blog about something chirpier soon! Thank you so much to those who follow my work and actually 'get it'! I appreciate you so much. I know I say this from time to time but I really do mean it. I appreciate you all. Thank you.
- Caroline xXx

Saturday 5 August 2017

Rare Welsh Bits...

A little while back I wrote about my design process for the character Mabyn Mossback, who is the Welsh witch from Good Witches Bad Witches and also the latest character addition. You can see the post here.

Finally, here she is!

Mabyn Mossback is a 1:12 character sculpt - handmade by myself using clay, wire and mixed media. She'd be about 5 foot (5 inches) if she stood upright. Mabyn dresses in old fashioned Welsh attire complete with red wool shawl, green knit open finger gloves and a Welsh stovepipe hat. Her cart is carved like a wooden love spoon (again, read more about the design here) and there are dragons carved into the cart - a tribute to the national emblem for Wales - the dragon. Finally, Mabyn's cart is pulled by a black ram with a copper cattle bell around his neck.

I added a flickering light to this piece, just like the lantern I made for Captain James Hook here. This lamp is a Welsh miners' lamp. They're amazing objects, don't you think? Growing up back in my English village, we had a brass Welsh miners' lamp hanging in the kitchen and it gave such a wonderful glow.

Enjoy the photos of Mabyn below! As with all my witches you'll be able to learn a lot more about them and see more working photos in my book - out later this year. Explanation as to why the book is delayed is here.

miniatures, scale miniatures, scale miniature model, sculpture, figurine, comic figurine, maquette, jordu schell, gnomon, stan winston, collectible figurine, miniature model, tall tales productions, good witches bad witches, caroline mcfarlane-watts, stop-motion miniatures, stop-motion miniature, tim burton, laika, laika model

Friday 4 August 2017

Injury Makes the Comeback Sweeter...

Hi everyone!

First of all, apologies for being away so long.
Secondly, an explanation!

...I sat down at my computer early one morning and opened up my files... I was going to work on my book since I know it's keenly anticipated. (I receive on average 4 emails a week asking if my book is out yet. Seriously!) So... feeling a lot of self-inflicted pressure, I worked a typically long day. After 16 hours at my desk I collapsed into bed. Then next morning, blurry eyed and barely awake, I started brushing my teeth. Ruddy heck - my right arm hurt! Never experienced pain in any of my appendages before and this was pretty inconvenient so I ignored it but it got worse fast. It swelled until I literally had a Popeye forearm. Then it locked up altogether and didn't allow me to do anything. Not even hold a cup of tea - so you know it was becoming concerning to me.
A trip to the brilliant UCLA Orthopedic Center, and some x-rays and prodding later, I was told I'd given myself a nasty case of Tendinitis and was advised not to use my arm for the next "few months".

So, it's been 9 weeks now and I'm itching to get back to work. There have been positives to my hiatus, and I'll blog about that silver lining soon.

Above is a silly little sketch I did yesterday to test my arm out. (See me sketching it here). It was meant to be me complaining about my arm, but it came out rather more flattering than intended. For those that don't know what I look like, my hair is a tad more like orange cotton candy and face leans more towards Disney villain than Disney princess! Anyway - you get the idea.

I'm back and here's the upcoming news...

I'll unveil my new witch tomorrow!

Sneak peek here

New videos will be uploaded to the YouTube channel soon... (honestly)...

Orders are still being dispatched (shop has remained open here) but commissions are not open yet. Feel free to email me about this.

Book is 9 weeks delayed. Seriously sorry about that, but there it is. As always, feel free to email me or get me at the Facebook page with any questions. :)

Have a great Friday night everybody!

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Voice of Claymation

I was a little girl when I first discovered 'Wallace and Gromit'. It was magic. If it didn't exist then I wouldn't be where I am now. I would probably have found my artistic outlet in a design agency in London or be illustrating books. But I would not work in miniatures. So that's how much influence it had on me.

A few days ago we lost Peter Sallis, who had given Wallace his original voice. He died peacefully at the age of 96. A talented, brilliant actor who made the only speaking character of the duo so remarkably endearing and funny by the smallest utterance.

Sorry to blog about something so sad, but I just wanted to say something here to honour Peter Sallis and then also point you towards a much better tribute by Nick Park here.

Thank you all. I'll post something else soon.
claymation, clay animation, wallace and gromit, nick park, caroline mcfarlane-watts, miniatures

Thursday 1 June 2017

A Strange Dog, a Flood and a Man...

A strange dog, a flood and a man walk into a bar...., not really. This Welsh proverb sounds like a joke at first glance. I like it and since this blog post is about something Welsh, I include it.

"Three things it is best to avoid - 
a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise."
~ Welsh proverb.

If you're disappointed and wanted a joke, scroll to the end of this post for my standard joke I tell in pubs. Few enjoy it as much as me.

This post is about my design process and how I arrive at something I am happy with.

Almost two years ago I designed and sculpted a Welsh witch character called Mabyn Mossback for 'Good Witches Bad Witches'  and showed her here on this blog. 

This was the initial sketch.

I had to include a sheep because Wales and sheep are inextricably linked. I had the sheep led by a leek on a string (naturally) and gave her a traditional Welsh stovepipe hat and red wool shawl. Also, she's knitting. I was never convinced this was the right design though...

Here's her sheep.

So a year later (April 2016) I found time to sketch her again - still riding her white ram and dressed mostly the same. This time I added an umbrella and a mushroom to her hat. It still wasn't right for 'Good Witches Bad Witches' so I shelved her again and worked on others.

This was the watercolour sketch.

This year I sold her since she never quite belonged to the 'Good Witches Bad Witches' world.... she was detailed and nicely made, but the design didn't work for me. I re-imagined her, this time without the leek on the string... and this time I suddenly realised that of course her ram had to be black, not white. I kept (but changed) the Welsh stovepipe hat and red wool shawl. I kept the umbrella. But this time, I designed her not riding the ram, but sitting in a modest cart, pulled by the ram. The cart is carved like a Welsh love spoon. Balls of wool sit packed up at the back of her cart. 

Here's the design...

And here it is as a better sketch...

Check back at this blog soon as I'll share images of the new sculpted maquette... the finished Mabyn Mossback (Welsh witch) and then in a few weeks there will be a video all about making her at the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel here. Please subscribe to the channel if you're interested in watching me work and stay tuned for tutorials to be added this year as well (that is, if interest is there!)

A glimpse at her and her ram...

And finally, my joke.
Two chemists walk into a bar. Bartender asks "What can I get you?"
The first chemist says, "I'll have a glass of H2O."
The second chemist says, " I'll have H2O too."

The second chemist dies.        tall tales productions, caroline mcfarlane-watts, cs mcfarlane-watts, animation, stop-motion, scale models, miniature models, miniaturist, concept maquette, maquette sculpting, sculpting figures, character design, laika, tim burton design, aardman, miniature characters, mackinnon saunders, peter lord

Friday 26 May 2017


Last post was about this new character maquette - Captain J. Hook, sculpted in 1:12 scale miniature by hand using polymer clay.

There's a new video for you up on the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel here, so you can learn (in just 60 seconds) how this character was created from initial sketches to the final piece. It's not an in-depth tutorial, but it gives a fun insight to the process which I hope you will enjoy. If you like any of the content at the YouTube Channel, then be sure to subscribe so that you don't miss updates. There will be many tutorials coming soon (they've been shot already and are getting edited as we speak).


Maquette sculpting and Painting video...

And here is a video from the exhibition opening night at Center Stage Gallery, Burbank.

Photos of the exhibition...

tall tales productions, stop-motion animation exhibition, laika gallery, laika exhibition, laika display, laika exhibition universal studios, tim burton gallery show lacma, laika gallery show, concept maquettes, stop motion maquettes, Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo del Toro art show, Guillermo del Toro gallery show lacma, los angeles, disney artists show, caroline mcfarlane-watts
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