Sunday, April 26, 2009


Ok, so this isn't in any way stop-motion related, but it is linked to costume-making of the full-scale variety.... sort of.

On Saturday night Daz and I went to a 'Masquerade Ball' for our friend Caroline's 20th birthday party at the Dog and Partridge, our favourite pub and the main hangout for Bolton's alternative musicians and arty types. It was a thoroughly fun night, with great live bands and a DJ outdoors. It was all a bit surreal, seeing the usually scruffy clientelle dressed up in suits, ball gowns and elaborate masks, and far too much alcohol was consumed by all (although that's nothing unusual on a Saturday night in Bolton).

Anyway, I got a bit carried away making my mask over the last few weeks. Whereas most people are happy with sequins and feathers, I decided I wanted to be a robot with working LEDs and circuits...

I put together one shop-bought blank moulded mask, the lenses from my old pair of prescription glasses, some epoxy putty, lots of PVA glue, acrylic based metallic model paints (Games Workshop), one 9V battery, two ultra-bright blue LEDs, red and black 7 strand equipment wire, one and a half packs of 5 minute epoxy resin, a few metres of silver plated copper jewellery wire, blue glass beads, aluminium wire, heat shrink tubing, lead free solder, brass rings, some small springs, a selection of sizes and types of copper, brass and stainless washers, assorted types of resistor, some solenoids taken from the inside of an old Xbox 360 console, nuts, bolts, heavy duty elastic, copydex, cushion foam, grey satin ribbon and some other bits and bobs, and made this:

It has prescription lenses so that, in theory, I'd be able to see (they actually kept fogging up, and the peripheral vision was terrible). I even wore some very geeky earrings that I made out of electronics components a while ago, to complete the look.

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.

This photo was taken pretty late, when we were all pretty sloshed. I'm on the far left, with Daz clinging to me (probably for stability). Caz, the birthday girl and Wolve (her partner and one of our closest friends) are at the back in the middle, stood on the stage:

So, ummmm, yeah, sorry, not in any way stop-motion related...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Props, cheap LEDs and fuzzy boobs!

I just thought I'd post some photos of various props I've made over the last few weeks. Most of them are for the international animation co-operative set up by John Hankins (castlegardener).

The first few are some wooden toys made from wooden bits and bobs I had in my hoard of useful junk:

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 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...

The website also sells great value resistors, which you need to prevent the LEDs being destroyed by the 9V circuits I wire them into. Great service too - if you need LEDs, I highly recommend them (they ship internationally too). The LEDs are really powerful (especially the white ones) and give a narrow 20 degree beam of light. They are so bright that I think I could probably use them as small spot-lights for lighting areas of my sets, which is great because they run for ages on a 9V circuit, they come in loads of colours, they don't flicker and they don't heat up!

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:

Yup, that's what woolly alien glamour model looks like, just in case you ever wondered...
It's for the cover of a magazine prop in 'Monday to Friday'.
If it arouses you (and you aren't a woolly alien yourself) you should probably be concerned!