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Padraig the Pooka Final Photos

Published April 7, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Here are some photos of the pooka character that I created during the Froud Faery Creature Bust Workshop at The Fernie Brae two weeks ago. I had Padraig at about 99% completed by the end of the twelve-hour weekend workshop, but I did add a few finishing touches after I took him home. Just little things like real eyelashes, whiskers, a few extra wildflowers in his bouquet, some weathered staining on his cloak, and a couple of patches on his back. I have some pretty decent unprocessed photos that I took with my phone around my neighborhood over this past weekend, so here you go!

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I found this patch of wild bramble in a neighbor’s front yard while we were out walking the dog, and I thought that it might make the perfect atmospheric background for my photos.

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His little streak of grisly gray hair is especially meaningful to me. It’s a tuft of yak hair from the workshop that Toby Froud had donated to our doll-making supplies, leftover from his work as a fabricator for the film, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Ok, I’m a nerd.

Another little detail about Padraig that I ended up loving after the fact is the especially creepy metallic gold glint in his pupils, which always reflects the light like a nocturnal animal in the dark. I just tried that out on a whim, and was really happy that I did!

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Obviously, this tricky fellow is NOT to be trusted.

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You can see his little eyelashes a bit better in profile.

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Something I really enjoyed painting (and pretty much always enjoy painting) was his freckled nose. I just love animals with freckled noses, and whenever I get to paint a prosthetic werewolf nose with this coloration I get super excited about it.

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Always the foolishly ambitious one at a workshop, I decided to sew the entire jar of old mismatched buttons that I found at the always-wonderful SCRAP onto his cloak. It took a little while but I love the mad-collector-packrat look it lends to him. I think he probably stole the buttons.

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He’s also got the grodiest teeth ever…I would definitely describe them as, “mossy.”

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I made his whiskers by saving the shafts of some of the longer feathers that I used in my Mama Kringle doll’s collar, then painting them with a thin glaze of acrylic paint.

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In case you were wondering, in the little jar are two preserved quail eggs. I bought this little curiosity at Paxton Gate because I thought that it seemed appropriate for the season.

One last detail shot of his button collection, which I also weathered and dirtied-up with a little grungy patina of acrylic paint; as well as his Celtic cross brooch, which I happened to find on eBay.

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Oh, and here is the back of him.

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Clearly, the Unseelie folk like goblins and pookas can’t sew very well.

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But at least they have nice taste in fabrics.

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There you go, Padraig the Pooka, now coming to a neighborhood near you.

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I guess I’m finally all caught up for now with my blogging about my latest projects! I’m expecting a ten-day long visit from my in-laws early next week, so it might be a little while until I post on here again. Either way, I plan on keeping up with my sketchbook and rapid-firing of ideas for future works in the meantime. I had so much fun making Padraig that I’ve been thinking of making more of these bust sculptures; like a whole motley crew of other Unseelie Court fae creatures that I can create to sell. In fact, just yesterday I staggered into Fred Meyer on my lunch break to buy some stuff to deal with a wicked migraine I was having, when I discovered six beautiful rustic pillar candle holders on extreme knock-down clearance. The surface on them really looks like hand-carved driftwood, and I think that they would make the most perfect pedestal stands for some future sculptures. I guess it was meant to be, and now I kind of have to do it!

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Until I write again…Happy Spring!

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The Froud Workshop (creating a faery bust with Wendy & Toby Froud)

Published April 6, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Two weeks ago, I attended a weekend workshop at The Fernie Brae with Wendy Froud and Toby Froud where we made mixed-media bust sculptures of faery creatures. I was SO unbelievably excited for this event! I had already taken Toby’s amazing rod puppet workshop last year, but I had yet to meet his mother Wendy, who also happens to be a master doll-maker, writer, poet, and puppet fabricator, as well as one of my top art heroes. The multitude of art books that Wendy has created with her husband the legendary Brian Froud, as well as her instructional Gnomon Workshop DVD from many years back, Creating a Faery Figure with Wendy Froud, have been a major source of artistic inspiration for many, many years. Wendy was in town for just a short time, having flown all the way from Devon to visit with Toby and his family. I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for the workshop, and considering that I was more than just a little bit starstruck to meet the woman who was the fabricator of Yoda and the creatures of The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and pretty much everything that mattered to me from my young adulthood onward, I think that I behaved myself rather well. I couldn’t resist a picture with her on the last day of the workshop, of course, but that’s to be expected.

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The weekend kicked off on Friday night with a meet n’ greet Goblin Feast party at The Fernie Brae. Wendy, Toby, Toby’s wife Sarah, and Toby’s adorable son Sebastian were all there to sign books, take photos, and accept compliments. There were enough of Wendy’s gorgeous goblins and delicate little fairies for sale to make my fingers twitch, but I remained as fiscally responsible and steadfast as any millennial who has recently purchased their first home. It didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying them up close, however. I lifted a lot of these photos of the event from The Fernie Brae’s Facebook page, by the way.

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I was especially smitten with Yiren the Whining One aka Blossom, the scruffy girl-goblin on the far right.

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She was the first character that I acquired of my full collection of the limited-edition F.A.O. Schwarz Froud goblin plushes, after all.

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Ahem–anyway, the workshop! It was about twelve hours long in its entirety. The classes ran from around 10AM-5PM on Saturday and Sunday, with an hour break each day for lunch. Wendy and Toby both had brought with them a couple of examples of busts that they had either been completed prior to the class, or were still works in progress.

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On Saturday morning we started with a special guided meditation that was written for Wendy by Jessica Macbeth, the author of Brian Froud’s The Faeries’ Oracle. The theme of the meditation was the changing of the seasons; somewhat of a visual transition or a verbal release from the icy grip of Winter into the quickening of Spring, and of course the various fantastical faery creatures and spirit guides that one might personally associate with each. The idea was to stoke the creative mind and maybe spark some creative inspiration in the process. After Wendy read aloud the mediation, we were encouraged to sketch some of the characters we met or experienced within our mind’s eye. Most of the class either chose to design a Winter spirit or a Spring spirit. I myself had decided on a Spring variant of the Pooka, a shapeshifting trickster faery of Celtic mythology with blazing golden-yellow eyes that usually chooses to appear in the guise of a wild black stallion, a black goat, or a black hare…which is just perfect for Easter! Also I just might have just seen the classic 1950 Jimmy Stewart film Harvey for the first time shortly before the workshop, which only served as an additional inspiration to make some kind of strange oversized rabbit character.

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The six-foot, three-and-a-half-inch tall rabbit Harvey is apparently meant to be a Pooka in the film, but regardless of whether he really is or isn’t, I need to add that painting to my list of movie paintings that I want badly enough to paint for myself. I guess it wouldn’t be the first.

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I had even sketched a few rough drawings before that weekend just based on the description of the workshop that I had read online. I knew that I wanted to make some kind of Spring character that incorporated my ideas of creepy bunny rabbits, daffodils, and other seasonal blooming flowers.

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After the guided meditation, I had an even better idea of the type of character that I wanted to create. I saw in my mind a few more specific details, like hairstyle, teeth, facial expression, and lots and lots of freckles!

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Once we all had few ideas to work with, we began our sculptures by making an armature out of bent wire, aluminum foil, and masking tape.

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After this we began to evenly cover the skull armature with polymer clay, specifically a custom blend of a light flesh tone and white/champagne color Puppen Fimo, and map out the proportions of the facial features with a series of simple shapes and blobs of clay. Unfortunately, I got so heavily involved with what I was doing after this point that I completely forgot to take any more in-progress photos until I basically had a fully sculpted head, other than this great one that my friend Laura got of me…but she’s a much more fastidious photographer than I.

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Rest assured that the sculpting process was still very much the same as all of my other Froudian creatures that I’ve ever made in the past, including Toby’s puppet workshop last year.  Definitely have a look at that old post if you’re interested in finding out exactly how we like to do these things!

By the end of the day, everyone had created a very fascinating and completely diverse array of faery creatures for Toby to bake in the craft ovens. Luckily I was able to snap a couple of photos of that.

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In case you were wondering, this one’s mine!

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On Sunday we returned to the workshop to find that all of our characters had been baked beautifully. We promptly got to work on the painting, wigging, and clothing fabrication process. I always totally love that part, but again was a bit too involved in what I was doing to take any photos. If you really wanted to know more about that process, then check out this recent post that I wrote about Mama Kringle, another personal project that I happened to finish during the same weekend as the workshop.

The last pictures I took from the workshop itself were the amazing group photos of the finished (or nearly finished) pieces at the end of the second day.

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They all turned out so very different and interesting that I kept thinking how I would love to see either a movie or children’s book that featured the entire group as characters!

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Note Toby’s Napoleonic goblin and Wendy’s ethereal forest spirit at dead center.

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Here’s a better view of them, with my Pooka (who I decided to name Padraig) in the far left.

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I really love the tongue on this last one!

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Well I suppose that’s everything as far as my workshop photos. It was such an amazing experience to quietly work on a sculpture right next to two of my artistic heroes, occasionally stopping to talk about mythology, art supplies, faeries, and pepper jack moon cheese (which is apparently a favorite Froud work-time snack…who knew!) I’m gonna cut myself off from raving any more about how awesome it was, but if you guys have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below!

In my next post I will be featuring some more quality photos of the finished Padraig bust, so stay tuned for that!

 

Mama Kringle Final Photos!

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

For my last Mama Kringle post, here’s a huge collection of finished photos that I snapped over the weekend. They’re unprocessed, disorganized, and taken from just about every angle I could think of because I’d always rather have too many photos than not enough! Enjoy!

Mama Kringle

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And one more, because there’s just something inherently awesome about allowing a two-dimensional character to transcend into the corporeal plane!

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Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 2: Costume Fabrication

Published April 5, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

Now I had created my 19″ posable polymer clay soft body Mama Kringle doll.

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She was finally all ready for some clothes and finishing touches! Costume fabrication is one of my all-time favorite parts of doll-making; probably tied with painting depending on how interesting the costume. Again, this is what I was going for:

Mama Kringle Design

For some reason I felt a little uncomfortable with the idea of Mama Kringle just being skyclad underneath her robe, so I decided to make her a pair of cute frilly undergarments that you will never see (unless you’re a creep like me who has always had to look at what’s underneath dolls’ dresses.) For this purpose I have an enormous bag of antique lace scraps that I once was lucky enough to find secondhand. Then I was even more lucky, because I happened to find in the bag a crinkly Victorian lace collar that was the perfect size to use as a one-piece negligee.

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I fitted the front of the lace to her body, then wrapped the straps of the collar around her shoulders and down her back. It really was such a perfect size that I was able to create the rest of the onesie with just a couple of carefully-placed contrasting lace panels.

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I know the garters and tiny buttons were completely pointless, but I kind of had to.

Here’s the back of it:

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Before I made her robes, I also decided to give her a fluffy layered petticoat to add some more volume to her silhouette.

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Next I cut out her robe. I forgot to take a photo of this before I had already stitched most of it together, but I used this generic robe pattern that I found online as a reference.

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The fabric I was working with was a very messy, long-pile silver faux fur, so I didn’t bother with cutting a pattern out of separate pieces of paper. I just folded the thick fabric over and used it as a pattern for itself, cutting everything on the floor fur-side down with very sharp scissors at an angle in an attempt to make slightly less of a mess.

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It was still a bit of a fluff massacre, but whatcha gonna do? I also attached the white fur trim to the panels of the robe before I had sewn it all together, which was a little tricky as I had to fold the trim in half as I worked for the desired thickness. Since I don’t have a working sewing machine, I also sew all of my costumes by hand. I finally caved and bought my first thimble during this project because I had to use extra-large needle to get through this tough fabric, and after a while it was pretty brutal on my fingers.

In the following nightly work sessions I made her sleeves and feathered collar, which I embellished with antique lace and tiny real freshwater pearls.

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Next a few more finishing touches–more feathers on the collar, gossamer white eyelashes, a shiny red bead for a bindi, some additional delicate opalescent fiber strands in her collar, some perfect little round lavender Barbie spectacles that I found on eBay, lots of additional glittery winter twigs and flora in her hair, and a sprig of mistletoe in her hand/hair.

IMG_6495.JPG I didn’t have any mini mistletoe on hand, so I actually custom-made this for her by combining three different kinds of artificial plants together; the frosted heart-shaped leaves from one, the white berries from another, and the little yellow clusters from the third. I twisted it all together in a tiny bouquet to hide the drops of glue.

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And for the very last touch of magic…I wove a fine strand of micro LED fairy lights into her hair, and hid the little battery pack with the on/off switch in a slot in the back of her robe. I think the warm white glow when she’s switched on is really beautiful.

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Much like Lucia with her glow-in-the dark skin, she could also double as a night light! The shadows she casts of the wall are really cool; much like being in a forest at night.

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I’ll make one more post for the finished photos!

Mama Kringle Work-in-Progress Part 1: Design, Sculpting, Painting, and Assembly

Published April 4, 2017 by baileyquillincooper

As promised, I took a lot of work-in-progress photos of Mama Kringle. Normally I like to write a series of many entries as I’m working on a doll and so I can post my progress photos as I go along, but let’s just say that I have a lot of catching up to do this time. Due to the sheer volume of the photos I have taken since I first started on her, this entry and the one that will follow are going to be mostly photos with very brief explanations in between. If you guys have any questions about any of them or my process in general, please feel free to comment below!

I. DESIGN

Without further ado, here are first some images of Mama Kringle from my children’s book, Kris & Krampus Kringle, to serve as a reminder of the character design.

Mama Kringle Design

I usually make my dolls just based off of a singular idea or sketch and sort of make the details up as a I go along, so making a three-dimensional version of a pre-existing fully-formed character is somewhat rare for me and a lot of fun.

Mama Kringle Portrait

II. SCULPTING

I took inventory of my massive polymer clay collection and gathered an assortment of colors to make a custom skin tone. Some of them were quite sparkly.

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My workspace, complete with weird Netflix documentary about men who like to dress up as giant masked dolls.

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A pair of beautiful glass eyes that I found on eBay.

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A lot of the more ornate and unusual glass eyes that I buy are intended for Dollfie ball-jointed dolls. I know that the Frouds and many other doll-makers out there really don’t like glass eyes because they can be somewhat restricting and a little bit tricky to focus, but I personally really have a thing for them. There’s always such an interesting variety of them online that sometimes I will even get an idea for a character based solely on a pair of eyes that I find.

I always start by making an internal structure for the neck and skull out of looped armature wire, epoxy putty and fine jeweler’s wire for some extra grip, shaped pieces of aluminum foil, and then masking tape.

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I made sure to gore out some eye sockets before putting any clay onto the skull.

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Then I mixed up all this clay by hand. It took a while.

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I seriously need to get me a food processor.

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I then set the eyes into the sockets as I began to cover the skull with clay. This is how I started to form the face with basic shapes first.

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This is what she looked like by the end of my first all-too-brief sculpting session.

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This one is from my Instagram, probably after I returned to her for another brief session a day later.

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Another Instagram photo after she was ready for her first trip to the oven.

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A wonderful thing about polymer clay is that you can bake it in layers to better save your work. It definitely helps you to prevent stressing over things while you’re working quickly, like delicate facial features that you wouldn’t want to accidentally smash when you’re working on the ears or the back of the head. You can bake most polymer clays at least three times before the coloration or texture changes that much.

Into the oven with you!

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Creepy…I really love my Amaco craft oven though.

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The glitter clay shines even more after it’s been baked!

Ears next.

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Next I made her hands, while watching my old Wendy Froud DVD and rocking out with my rod puppet, Lucia.

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As per Wendy Froud’s hand sculpting technique, they actually do start as a simple throwing up the horns shape before I add the other fingers on one by one. Apparently I didn’t take any pictures of that, but here they are going into the oven.

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Just waiting around for some hair.

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I think all the glitter clay worked out great for her skin, but by this time I had also discovered another kind of special effects Premo Sculpey clay at Blick called, “Opal.”

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I thought this one was so cool, and was pretty excited to try it out in her hair!

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I made the basic structure of her hair by twisting many different other colors of polymer clay together into tapered rope-like shapes, fixing them onto her scalp, and then adding additional little branches onto the larger ropes in the same exact way. Working my way in a circular pattern from the forehead and the nape of the neck to meet in the middle on the crown of the head, I eventually ended up with this.

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III. PAINTING

Time for some paint!

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I love that photo.

After trying out many different kinds of paints and doll-painting techniques over the years, I now prefer to use many thin glazes of acrylic paints over the polymer clay until I can build up the depth of color that I want.

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I occasionally will also use glitter and metallic paints, acrylic varnish for varying levels of shininess, and even stuff like nail polish and clear nail varnish for things that I want to be really shiny and wet-looking (like a tiny doll manicure!) Mama Kringle ended up being very colorful and sparkly, and a very fun one to paint.

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Next I made her some feet, which were even balanced enough to stand on their own!

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Although you can only ever see the tips of Mama’s shoes poking out from her robe in all of my illustrations of her, I decided to make the the tops of the shoes a little bit fancy. I looked at lots of photos of Victorian shoes for reference.

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I think they looked way better after I stained them with acrylic paints so that they would more closely resemble worn leather.

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Here she is all painted and ready to be assembled!

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IV. ASSEMBLY

To assemble her body, I began by making a basic skeleton out of armature wire with a spinal cord, pelvis, and stick limbs. I used more epoxy putty on the pelvis, kneecaps, and wherever I needed to make some strong joints that would’t shift around while I got the proportions on the shoulders and the limbs right.

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I also added some wooden skewers to the femurs and other larger bones for some additional strength.

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I made her elbows on loops of wire like hinges so that I would be able to pose her arms later.

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Next came the foil.

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In case you are wondering what I was watching this time, it’s “The Secret of Roan Inish,” a charming Irish film about Selkies. It was great to watch it again along with my small collection of other Irish movies around St. Patrick’s Day!

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Side view:

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First layer of masking tape to hold her all together:

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I later added a bit more masking tape to bulk up the limbs and strengthen the skeleton.

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After I get a strong yet still posable skeleton, I begin to flesh out the body with batting…yes, just like in the Wendy Froud video in the background.

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Batting sticks to itself and is pretty easy to shape and sculpt with a little finagling, so I usually tend to make a pretty detailed body shape with this step.

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The very last step that I do before I move onto the costuming is I make a cloth body stocking over the batting. This creates a more cohesive “skin” and holds everything underneath in place. To do this I use some kind of thin, stretchy fabric; lycra in this case, and carefully stretch it over the toro and the limbs. I cut it all to size and then glue and hand-stitch it tightly over the batting “guts.”

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And there you have it, the design, sculpting, painting, and assembly of Mama Kringle! The last bonus photo I found on my camera roll before I moved onto the costuming was one of Mama standing next to Lucia for a size comparison. For the record, Lucia stands at about 17″ tall, and Mama Kringle is about 19″ tall without a stand. I’m really enjoying working in this larger scale!

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Ok. Well that was pretty exhausting, and I again apologize for all the major catch-up posts that I’m having to do now! The good news is, you won’t have to wait very long at all for part two of the work-in-progress post since she’s already finished now, and I just have to type it all out. Be sure to check in again for that sequel soon!

A Portrait of Lucia and the Witches Castle

Published May 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Martyn and I went to the coast over the weekend to celebrate our “ten-iversary” because we have now been an official couple for ten years since May 1st/Beltane! Here’s the only picture I have from our first date on Tybee Island Beach in Savannah one decade ago:

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What a weirdo…and what was with that shirt, anyway?!

Our “ten-iversary” trip to the coast was only one night away but it was still so nice to have some real time off from everything and recharge our mental batteries. Plus we got to stay at the Sou’wester, a lodge/campground on Long Beach that has restored vintage RVs for rent…and it was sooo cool! But anyway, before we left for our trip I finished up a drawing that I had had made for an art swap event that a friend of mine had invited me to on Saturday night. The event ended up being cancelled but at least I ended up with a nice pencil study of Lucia, the albino faun character that I made at the Toby Froud rod puppet workshop (see my previous posts.) I think I might even use this as a portfolio piece when I go to the SCBWI Spring Conference at the end of this month.

Lucia Drawing

I used two shades of deep red pencil and a white pencil on rose toned paper. I was going for the look of a classic Leonardo da Vinci pencil study but something about it makes me think of a vintage beauty add instead. Either way, I ended up really liking this one and it has inspired me to perhaps make some similar work in the future.

So ever since we got back from our mini vacation on Monday night it’s been back to business. I’m supposed to meet with Jenny at Vine Gogh on Thursday night to learn a new painting so I figured I would get some of my ideas for future classes together to discuss with her while I’m at it. I’ve heard that the new studio in Tigard may even be open for business by the middle of this month so it’s about time I get crackin’ on this stuff! Last night I worked on my idea for what could be our first watercolor class, or at least that I am aware of. I flipped through all of the reference photos I took on Easter Sunday of the Witches Castle in Forest Park and landed on these three favorites:

Witches Castle Composition

Witches Castle Color

Witches Castle Alternate

I combined what I liked about the first and second picture and came up with this:

Witches Castle Watercolor

The painting is a little large–well about 11″ x 15″, which is a little big for your classic watercolor nature study but the same size as the illustrations I did for my children’s book because I just used the same paper. I’m not sure what size we’re most likely to use at Vine Gogh for the watercolor classes so I just stuck with what I had already. This painting took me around three hours from start to finish…which is WAY too long! The classes that I teach can last up to three hours, but I want to eventually come up with a painting that I know so well that I could paint it in just one hour if I had to. This first time around just took me a while because I was essentially teaching it to myself; remembering each step to the best of my ability and deciding on the best order to paint each layer when I have to someday teach it to somebody else. I also took a few progress pictures while I was working on it to help me figure out a nice sane step-by-step for next time.

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step 10

And here is the final painting once again:

Witches Castle WatercolorSo yeah, I’ve still got to work on simplifying the whole thing into a few easy and defined steps but I’ve got a feeling that it will probably just come naturally to me when I paint this a second time. In analyzing my own work and trying to expedite the process, I expect a natural abstraction/simplification is bound to occur…well here’s to hoping!

I might later try doing another painting based on my third photo of the Witches Castle, the one that was taken from this alternate angle:

Witches Castle Alternate

I personally love that picture, especially with the little pink flower bud in the extreme foreground, but I wonder if it might be a little too complicated for a beginning painter. If I decide that it is I guess I could still use it as reference for my own work in the future. We shall see.

In addition to all of this I’ve got a few more ideas for watercolor painting classes AND some ideas for polymer clay sculpture classes. I’m gonna be working through all of them in the nearish future, so just be sure to stay tuned as always!

 

Lucia the Puppet: Final Photos!

Published April 26, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the final photos of Lucia, the rod puppet that I made at the Toby Froud workshop last week!

Lucia Full Body

Upper Body with Ear Visible

Bust

Birdseye Three Quarters

Hairbow Close Up

File_007

Back of Hair

Close Up Bodice and Hand

Close Up Basket

The crazy collage I made of all of those close-up shots:

Close Up Collage.jpg

A silly one of her looking shocked and horrified in front of my bureau mirror, because she does that so well:

File_008 (1)

If you remember, I made Lucia partially with FIMO Effect Nightglow. Here is the best picture I could get of her glowing in the dark, which was really hard to photograph and looks way more creepy cool in real life…lately I’ve been using her as a night light!

Lucia Glowing

That’s all folks!