Since I had decided to feature the settings where all 3 characters (Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Lion) get their longed-for items, this meant a lot of props had to be made in miniature. I like to try to use the same materials for the littles that the bigs use. So if something "real" is made from wood, I like to use wood for the mini version; same goes for metal or cloth or whatever. One of the minis (which can be found in the TW's section) was a pincushion. I used cottons for the red and greens, embroidery floss and the pins are sequin pins (shorter than your average pin).
The TW receives a heart made from satin and stuffed with sawdust, so that's what I made in miniature. Because satin frays a lot when working on this small of a scale, I first cut out felt and wrapped the satin around it, gluing it down BEFORE stitching both sides of the heart together. I went through my mother's EXTENSIVE needle collection to find all the really short, thin needles to use with this exhibit.
Another prop made for the TW's area was a stove. W.W. Denslow, the illustrator of the first OZ books shows a humble-looking stove that the wizard using to perform some soldering on the TW, after his elective open-chest-insert-heart surgery. After a couple of botched attempts, I came up with this solution: a prescription pill bottle wrapped in an aluminum take-out container (spray-mounted on), then painted with a metal paint, then painted with a rusting solution. I liked the pill bottle because the shape and size were good, and the orange of it glowed like a fire would. The legs are bits of a mini stool I got at a dollar store, and the top is a bottle cap I pounded to within an inch of its life on the driveway, then metal-painted and rusted. The tongs inside the fire are from the lip of the aluminum container with polymer clay as the ends. (You can click on these thumbnails to see them larger.)
Here are some of the other TW props created for his section. Axes are sticks with stones glued and lashed to them, with some paint added.
I envisioned that Oz would be a bit of a metalsmith in crafting a cover for the hole he cuts in the TW's chest, so this table (which is a spool with a slice of wood as its top, its base covered in lichen for a tree bark look) shows the evidence of some industry. Bits of aluminum from a take-out container act as tin, and I used more of that aluminum to make the tin snips (handles are a small clothespin). Mallets and hammers are made from sticks and polymer clay.
This is exactly what it appears to be: sticks acting as logs and a stump, respectively. The sawdust was created by putting a proper-sized dowel into the electric pencil sharpener and collecting the shavings and adding them to white glue to make the puddle of dust that inevitably happens when you're working with wood.
Since all of Chapter 16 in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz takes place in the throne room of the Emerald City, I knew I had to have something grand and something green. I had taken out a bunch of books from the library about making fairy houses, and the consensus seemed to be that, wherever possible, to craft them from natural objects. So I knew this would be one of my design goals. Since this exhibit was going to be out-of-doors for some very tricky months here in Connecticut (Super Storm Sandy blew through the Wee Village last year, for example), I also knew that sometimes the aim of "natural" would have to be sacrificed to the greater god of "sturdiness". One of the things that we were educated on was the need to have fences of sorts surrounding our exhibits -- faerie-sized fences don't cut the mustard, and with 15k people expected to be coming through, protecting the scene from trampling feet is v. important. With that in mind, my first thought in the green/natural/fence arena was to get some green bamboo garden stakes from my local garden supply store. I had started wiring these together and knew that this would A. take forever B. not be creative in the least C. more than likely fall apart before I managed to stake them in the ground. I like to take walks, so on a walk I came across sycamore bark on the grounds of the elementary school I attended as a child and thought, "Ah-HA!" I went back on two separate occasions to bag up the bark to bring home. Of course my mailman saw me both times, so the history of my mailmen seeing me doing odd things outdoors continues! (This was another time.) I painted these bark pieces, used gold leafing markers and puffy glitter paint, etc. (Painting on both sides will
reduce the curl that happens if you only paint one side. Some pieces
were naturally more tubular -- these I decided would be placed around
the throne. Other pieces were flatter -- these I decided would act as
walls/fence.) I mounted them to the aforementioned tomato stakes with wood glue, making sure the bond was solid by clamping with clothespins. Sprayed with two coats of an acrylic (clear) spray. When testing out one of the pieces here in the garden at home (to see how glue held up, etc.), here's what I found the next morning:
A 17-year cicada had left its golden outer casing on the top! I don't know if it was attracted to the gold leafing or what, but I took it as a good sign! The shapes of the sycamore bark are just so unusual and interesting that I knew I had that other-worldly quality that OZ (the city) needed. Plus, I knew I'd be able to arrange these bark-sticks in any way once I got to the site for installation. I live an hour away from the museum, and the ability to be flexible with my design was a must.
It's been far too long since I've posted, so it's time to get caught up with some recent doings. Three days of this past week have been spent in installing my contribution to this exhibit. Let me back up a bit -- I found out about the Florence Griswold Museum's Wee Faerie Village exhibit last year in 2012 through a friend, and went to see that year's enchanting 30+ houses. When it was announced this past February through Facebook that there would be another Wee Faerie Village for 2013, BUT that it would be themed to be based on the classic children's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I jumped on that immediately and requested to be a part of the artists involved. I was granted my wish! By April everyone knew which chapters (there are 24) they'd been assigned. My chapter, 16, is the one where Oz welcomes, on three consecutive days, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion to give them the things for which they've been clamoring. I knew I wanted to try to illustrate the whole chapter, as to leave out one of the brain/heart/courage vignettes would be shortchanging one of the characters (and we can't have that now, can we?). I will now, in separate posts, show you some of the items I made, and a bit about why and how I made them. Deal?
The exhibit I'm working on will have a total of six scenes, one of which will feature my dog finger puppets. In asking my sister for input re: themes for dogs -- because I don't want to have a reprise of the dogs celebrating their birthdays -- she suggested "doghouses". Bushels of ideas came from that suggestion, and I will show you how the doghouses are coming along in another blogpost. But for this blogpost, I thought I'd show you the beds and linens I've made for the houses.
I made a fairly simple, straightforward pattern for the bed, making it from cardstock that doubled back on itself for extra stability. I added half-circles of cardstock for the head and footboards, trimmed those down, then added lengths of coffee-stirrers for the bedposts, which got painted white. I added bones to the footboards (a double thickness of cardstock) for a little canine pizzazz... and so some other characters don't pretend these beds are THEIRS.
I made the bed linens using patterned cottons with white flannel. I'd never used flannel before with my miniatures, but I sure will use it more in the future. It's soft and it drapes far better than using any sort of felt I may have gravitated towards. The wee pillows were stuffed with lengths of quilt batting that I'd folded into thirds. The mattress is stuffed with a single layer of quilt batting. The "braided" rugs were made by gluing DMC's variegated Craft Thread onto cardstock ovals. A bit time-consuming considering the width of the craft thread, but worth it, I think, given the results.
I'd already established colorways with these characters (red, blue, green), so I'm continuing in that vein.
So I made a slew of miniature 3-D movie glasses yesterday, as I am prepping another little exhibit. (More on that in an upcoming blogpost.)
These glasses were fairly easy to make, albeit a bit time-consuming.
I found a template for the glasses online, and messed around with it a bit on Photoshop for sizing AND to put a billion on a page.
Printed off a sheet of glasses onto white card stock and cut them out, even cutting out the lenses. Did I have to do this? Could I have just let the printed colors of blue and red suffice? Yeah, I could have. But then you don't get the transparent quality, and you can't see the puppets' eyeballs behind the frames, and you HAVE to have that.
So, to achieve that: a piece of Scotch tape on the backside of the glasses -- trimming was necessary.
THEN: coloring (on the non-sticky part of the tape) the lenses using ultra fine point Sharpies in aqua and red.
I made some miniature sodas today, so I decided to provide a short tutorial, in case you wanted to make some too! Here's François the French Bulldog to show you what we'll be making:
Below are the things you'll need. Click on the image to make it BIGGER.
I save things that I think would make good components for miniatures. Usually when I save these items, I have no idea what they'll be used for, but I know SOMETHING will crop up. Such was the case with the Lego pieces. They were spacers in a Lego pen that I have, and since I don't play with that pen 12x a day, there didn't seem much sense in saving allll the wardrobe possibilities. These translucent caps are great because you can sort of see through them (to see the "soda"), and the ridges guide the Sharpie while drawing lines.
The only extra thing I would add regarding the above is: at Step 2, tamp down the clay with the end of your ballpoint pen. Doing so makes the blackness of the clay more visible through the cup. Then use the pen end to make sure the level of the soda is even all the way around.
Here's all the sodas I made today, with popcorn buckets I made awhile back, using toothpaste caps and polymer clay.
One of the perks of teaching at RISD CE this summer is that the teachers get to have their own exhibition at Woods-Gerry Gallery in Providence. The opening last night was for teachers and students. The show runs until July 26th, so stop by if you're in the area!
"I Live in a Small Town" is a 17-scene exhibit I created for Providence Children's Museum, which featured 36 of my handcrafted finger puppets and hundreds of miniatures I've made or collected over the years. The exhibit was on display for four months and was well received by little kids and by big kids who are sometimes disguised as adults.
Below are some of the inhabitants who resided in the display boxes which measured 12 5/8" L x 6 3/4" H x 5 1/8"W -- now THAT'S a small town!
Designing thematically when it comes to puppets, I believe, makes for endless and richer storytelling possibilities as the characters interact with one another. Some of the themes I work with include: Little Paris, the Rodeo and Nursery Rhymes.
It was in the crafting of these puppets that their stories unfolded, which indicated to me where these guys would like to live -- what sorts of backdrops and props needed to be made -- in order to make their small world REAL.
Working on a miniature scale is both challenging and hugely rewarding to me as an artist. So, whether I'm working with fiber and fabrics, or with clay, wood, or wire, I am striving for a high level of detail, for impeccable craftsmanship, and for believability. The goal is ALWAYS to pull the viewer into the "story", and to delight.
Hi there! A really quick post today to link you to some of the photos that were taken of Bear and Bird Gallery's STITCH WARS STRIKES BACK! opening night for the group show in which I participated.
I REALLY wish I could have attended this event, as it looks so fun -- playful, inventive works by some really fantastic artists, a good turnout (with costumed characters -- love the Lando Clarissian who is shown drinking a Colt 45), fun snacks (Wookie Cookies; Leia Cinnabuns) -- looks like a PARTY!
Here, then, are links to photos that have my puppets in them -- but SERIOUSLY, wander through the photostream to see all the pieces "in situ"!