Thursday, October 22, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Here are a few photos of my new studio space:
'Monday to Friday' has been put on hold for the moment, and I have started work on the puppets for the Walter Gloom film that I am working on with writer/director James Geard. I will be posting images of the process I have used to make the puppet heads for the film over at the Walter Gloom blog in the next few days. Now I have to be off again, the heads need another coat of latex...
Monday, July 13, 2009
The Dad is a little smaller than my usual puppets, and is about 10 inches tall, the Toddler is tiny, just over 4 inches tall, and had to be made using miniature crochet with a 1mm hook.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
I travelled out to Woking on Thursday to meet up with director James Geard and talk about our collaboration, Walter Gloom. He had some fantastic sketches and ideas and has put together a great storyboard for me to work from. To see some of his drawings and follow his pre-production work, check out the Walter Gloom blog.
The rest of this post is mainly going to be me enthusing about London, no stop motion I'm afraid...
I love living in the North-West, but I have to admit that every time I go down to London I fall in love with the place a little more. I have no interest in the nightlife or shopping - I avoid both of these things like the plague, unless it's shopping for books or comics of course! The main things I love about London are the excellent art galleries and museums, the architecture and the public transport system (yup, I'm a real geek). London now comes a very close second to Vienna, Austria which is my favourite city in the world (for very similar reasons).
Visiting the British Museum is my version of a religious pilgrimage. My entire purpose in life is Art, and the British Museum is a cathedral to the entire history of human cultural expression throughout the world (the V&A is similar, only with more emphasis on the history of design rather than history in general, and mainly focusing on the last 1000 years or so). I spent two full days in the British Museum, and now I have finally, after 5 visits in 3 years, managed to see everything in the permanent displays (yes it really is that big).
My favourite bits of the British Museum are Mexico, the Asia section (China, India, Japan etc.), Africa and the Lewis Chessmen. I'm also a sucker for anything featuring ancient methods of writing. I could quite happily pitch a tent in the central court of the British Museum and live there permanently!
The other great thing about both museums is the amazing bookshops.
And then of course there is also the National Gallery, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The Wellcome Collection, The Saatchi Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, The Natural History Museum, The Science Museum, and many many other galleries and museums to be inspired by.
Along with my passion for looking at pretty much anything that's in a glass case, on a plinth or hanging on wall with a little information tag beside it, I also love the London Underground. There are several reasons for this. The tube map is a work of design genius and all those interconnected coloured lines and dots fuel my autistic side (I like trying to work out the most efficient route between two stations by time, distance, number of connections and which route is most aesthetically pleasing on the map... ). I also like the efficiency and convenience of it all (anyone reading this in London is shaking their head now). Even with the staff strikes, signal failures, people jumping under trains and security alerts, it is still much quicker and easier to get around than in the Bolton/Salford/Manchester area, where nothing interconnects properly, you have to wait ages between each bus/train and everything is run by different companies that require separate day tickets so it ends up costing a fortune.
Despite the wonders of London, there is no way I could survive living there. Apart from the fact that even renting a tiny bedsit costs more than twice as much as renting a good sized two bedroom house in Bolton, I'd probably die of over-stimulation (if such a thing is possible). London has the same effect on me as large quantities of sugar and brightly coloured cartoons have on small children (or the effect that the London Forbidden Planet megastore and Orbital Comics shop have on Daz). Most importantly though, the tap-water down there is horrible lime-scaley stuff that forms a skin on top of your tea and makes it taste funny, and I could never live in a city where you can't make a good cup of tea...
Anyway, enough of my London related ramblings, by next weekend I should have two new woolly monster puppets to post about. Whilst in London I've also been doing some drawings for a little comic/artist-book type thing I want to put together and print a short run of, but I'll post more about that if and when I eventually finish it, so I can try to sell you all a copy!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Here is a tea-set. It's a bit too small for the scale of the rest of the set, so maybe it's an espresso set. I just used a 'Disney fairies' doll's china tea-set from the pound-shop, peeled off the fairy stickers and drew flowers on with Sharpie markers. I sealed the surface using an acrylic based varnish:
I'm off to London on Wednesday for 6 days, for a marathon of museum and art gallery visiting, and also to meet up with James Geard, director of 'Walter Gloom', to talk about film stuff.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
This is me and Daz (my fiance and muse - the original inspiration for all the woolly monsters) at the party. As you can see, looking smart is not in our nature - I personally think that wearing a military trenchcoat over a ball gown is a good look! Daz made his mask with prescription lenses too, and a spiral of tiny brass watch cogs round one eye and some swirly black iridescent fibres on the other side. Apparently it was inspired by the nature of time and entropy... I think. Here's photo of Daz looking like a very camp evil hypnotist, which gives a better view of his mask.
So, ummmm, yeah, sorry, not in any way stop-motion related...
Sunday, April 12, 2009
And this is my idea of what a Bubo (Clash of the Titans) bean-bag toy would look like. He's made of painted polymer clay:
And here's another silly stop-motion reference. Two plates with sheep on (ok, so I didn't 'make' them, I just drew on two plain doll's plates with Sharpie markers, then varnished them):
The other things I've been working on are some working table-lamps. I got an bargain on some ultra-bright LEDs in a variety of colours from a website called http://www.phenoptix.co.uk/ who even sell blue and white LEDs for less than 14p each! That's ridiculously cheap, especially for those colours... I remember back when I was doing AS-level electronics in the late 90s, blue LEDs cost about £3 each and white LEDs hadn't even been invented... ahhhh, so long ago...
Anyway, I used yellow LEDs in these two table lamps, to be placed in a sunny yellow coloured set. The lamps are made from glass beads and hollow wooden bases all glued together with epoxy. I soldered a 3mm yellow LED with a resistor into a circuit with a PP3 clip for a 9V battery, then covered all the exposed wires with heat-shrink tubing, with more heat-shrink over the top of that to turn the two seperate wires into one cable going from the lamp (the batteries will be hidden, obviously). I glued the LED into the bottom of the hole through the centre of the lamp, and put a 'plug' of tin foil fixed with epoxy into the hole at the top of the lamp to act as a reflector bouncing light back into the lamp.
I also made this lamp, to go in a set with a blue colour scheme, using a 3mm white LED. Most white LEDs give off a blue tinged light, and this one looks extra blue because of the blue glass in the lamp. It gives out about 3 times as much light as the yellow lamps, so I hope it won't be too overpowering!
Oh, and one last completely unrelated picture:
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
It's probably best not to ask what the heck is going on in the last photo!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I can't shoot any animation with it at the moment because I'm waiting for an AV capture card for my laptop to turn up, but I am going to use it to take some photos of my industrial set and puppets later on. I'm also waiting for a full set of lens filters to turn up for it, so I can have some fun experimenting with those.
Twelve months ago, I'd been obsessively researching stop-motion 12 hours a day for a couple of weeks. I'd signed up to SMA, I'd ordered a webcam, but I hadn't yet pushed a puppet (that happened for the first time on the 17th March).
Anyway, I don't think it is an understatement to say that stop-motion has changed my life (sounds rather melodramatic, but it's true).
If you'd have told me 2 years ago that in 2009 I'd be alive, happy and relatively stable, I would never have believed you. I wouldn't have been able to even imagine that I could make a stop-motion animation. The idea of me actually thinking about a 'career' of any kind would have been laughable.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say, in a long-winded and inept way is thankyou to everyone who has encouraged me, given me advice and helped me build my confidence over the last year:
Everyone on SMA and everyone who has commented on my blog or my youtube channel - thankyou so much. Seriously, without all of you I'd have never even got started, let alone had the confidence and motivation to keep on animating.
Thanks to my partner Daz and my parents who have encouraged me and supported me completely during my stop-motion adventure.
Thanks also to Dr. Pradip Patel for teaching me that the only way I was going to learn to cope with the world was to accept my difficulties and focus on my strengths, and also for telling me that my brain isn't broken, it's unique.
When I started this adventure, I set myself a target of being able to produce professional standard stop-motion animation within a year. I never expected to reach the target, it was just something to aim for and keep me focused. 'Professional' does cover a wide spectrum, and I still have many years of work before I reach the standards of Nick Hilligoss and Ron Cole, but if we define 'professional' as whether people are willing to pay me to animate, then I have succeeded in my mission!
Thanks again everyone :)
EDIT: Thankyou also to my late grandmother Edna who left me the money with which I bought my new camera. She never got to see any of my animations, but I think she would approve. Thanks Grandma!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I also made another trip to Fairfield Yarns and got some wool/angora blend 2ply yarn for miniature crocheting in lilac, a burgundy purple colour and dark turquoise. I also got some lovely speckled pure wool DK yarn in blue and dark navy.
Getting the new yarns allowed me to finish off my mini-blanket too. I think I will give it to the samurai puppet that John Hankins made me when I finally get round to doing the animation with it that I've been planning for ages.
Coming soon: The long delayed photos of my completed alien technology set and lots and lots of house-plant props...