The Labyrinth

All posts tagged The Labyrinth

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!

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!

 

Back from the Grave (Post-Halloween)

Published November 5, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

I’m back, guys! Here’s a very brief recap–the Kickstarter campaign ended at 134% funded, I was able to order 150 books from the publisher Bookbaby instead of just 100 because we totally KILLED the original goal, and then I channeled the souls of multiple personalities throughout the month of October, because Samhain aka Halloween is actually my holiday despite my somewhat out-of-character choice to write my first children’s book about Christmas. Writing all about October would probably take several long posts and I’m sure that nobody really wants to read that, so I’ll just rapid fire a bunch of choice photos from the past month that you may or may not have already seen if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

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I’ll also include a couple of distant past flashback photos to wrap up this manic Halloween montage, because they are pretty special. This one is from our very first Halloween together (and the very first incarnations of the same Sarah and Jareth costumes in the photos above that I resurrected for one last ride to The Fernie Brae.) This was now TEN YEARS AGO!!! Just look at it–I think it was even taken with one of those ‘digital cameras’, remember those?!

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The last flashback photo I will include is one that I probably post every year, because it’s one of my favorite pictures from our wedding four Halloweens ago. Our anniversary is October 31st, 2012.

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We were both working so much all throughout October that I was actually worried that we wouldn’t get to celebrate our anniversary or the best holiday ever, which thankfully did not turn out to be the case! Before I was certain that we’d have enough time set aside to celebrate our special day, I had booked a room in Eugene for the following weekend. The plan was to spend a day exploring the town and then to go to the Eugene Witches Ball at night. We’ve decided to keep our plans, so this weekend is now going to be like Halloween part two! I have a lot more to write about regarding some exciting news about my book, but for now I will wrap this up and save all of that for another post. I’ll be posting again very soon…I promise!

 

Beyond The Bramble: Character Design

Published July 18, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

A good friend of mine, Sarah Marie Bacavis, has also written a children’s book called Beyond The Bramble.

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It’s a middle grade short novel (not a picture book) that is best classified as a children’s fantasy adventure story. The book is now nearing completion and is currently in a similar stage of production as mine; getting the first reader/first print copies made so she can get some feedback and send her book out to some literary agencies. The story is about an imaginative girl who goes with her dachshund puppy Annette to visit her grandparents, only to discover a hidden world inside of the overgrown bramble in their backyard. The book is also about, you guessed it, goblins!

To simplify things, the three main reasons why Sarah and I are friends in the first place are Glam Rock, goblins, and the internet. We both fairly active with our Deviantart accounts back in 2008/2009, and we sort of found each other through our artwork and our extreme affinity for this somewhat odd combination of subjects. Some major influences of ours included David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Alice Cooper, Cuddly Toys, Brian Froud (well all three of the Frouds, actually), Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and The NeverEnding Story. We later discovered that we had even more of the same influences in common that we had just never bothered to mention before. Maybe we’re just like one of those creative matches made in heaven, like Henson and Oz. Either way, it’s always a pretty amazing thing to chance meet a creative who is from your very same “planet.”

When Sarah asked me if I could help her with designing the characters from her book and then illustrating the cover art, I was more than happy to help. She already had drawn that idea for the cover and some sketches of three of the characters from the story. We decided that I would first help design the characters, and then do some more basic cover artwork for the first read copy. The first read copies will be be going to the printer very soon, so for time’s sake and to differentiate the first read edition from the more finalized text, we are going to go with a more simplified design for now.

So far I have completed the designs all three characters. First we have her sketches of a goblin named Sim Sala Pim, “but Pim is plenty.”

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Here’s my pencil drawing:

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Inked:

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Colored:

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Then we have her drawings of another goblin called Wilden.

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Here is my final design for Wilden (because I guess I forgot to take more work-in-progress pics again!)

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And last we have Coragrinn The Finder, a very scowly, grouchy, and somewhat pretentious junk collector goblin who spends most of his time digging through dirty garages.

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Coragrinn was by far the most difficult character to design. I actually had a feeling that he might be, so I ended up tackling this one first. The reason he was so difficult was probably because he has such a strong personality and needed to have a scowl that was just right. Sarah also had the most trouble envisioning this one and left her drawings very open to interpretation. I took a long while playing around with the shape of his face before I ever got started on the final design.

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As you can see from my sketches, I had pretty much decided from the beginning that he needed to have short, lopsided bangs and some very deep frown lines. I also decided that I liked him better with a taller forehead and a longer face, because it somehow made him look more intellectual but also a lot grumpier. Putting all of the things that I liked about the different face designs together, I then came up with this:

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Here is is all colored in (and yes, that is my sneaker!)

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That’s the design that I first ended up sending to Sarah. She loved his scowly face, and she said that he reminded her a little of Rabbit from Winnie The Pooh crossed with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis (a disturbing yet hilariously apt observation!) The term “Squidwardian” was also tossed around a bit when designing this guy. Ultimately the only major changes that Sarah wanted to make to this first design was to darken the coloration on his muzzle and feel to make him look even grungier, and to give him longer, gnarlier toes with claws more similar to those of a kangaroo. Since I am an old school traditional artist, a correction as minor as that just takes a little bit of creativity:

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Presto!

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After his “pedicure” was complete, I got the final approval from Sarah that he was at last “the perfect grouchy filthy hoarder” that she hoped he would be!

So that’s all I’ve got for the character designs. Next I will start work on the illustration for the first read cover, and I’ll be sure to post more about it in my next one!

 

 

Toby Froud’s Puppet Workshop

Published April 20, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

Over the weekend I attended Toby Froud’s rod puppet workshop in the basement of The Fernie Brae (aka the Fernie Brasement…lolllzzz.) I had been looking forward to the workshop for months! Here’s that Facebook event image for the workshop that I posted before with some examples of Toby’s rod puppets:

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If you know me at all, you probably have heard how the Frouds are my favorite family artist trio of all time. I’ve been really into fairies and goblins since a very young age, but I first learnt of Brian Froud’s artwork when I was about middle school age and it forever rocked my world. I started collecting his books and would lie on the floor of my room and just study his illustrations, because his imagination, use of color, and technique completely fascinated and inspired me. I definitely learned a lot from him.

Later I found out that Wendy Froud was a doll maker who makes beautiful sculptures out of polymer clay, which has always been one of my most favorite art mediums. When I was a kid I used to spend my free time after school making little monsters and fairies out of polymer clay and household junk–Dad’s leftover tool scraps from the garage, used dryer sheets for fairy wings (because they develop and interesting crackle pattern only once they’ve been through the dyer) or pieces of Wal-Mart shopping bags back when they used to be blue and other colors if I wanted a tinted translucent material. When I first discovered Wendy Froud’s artwork it taught me a lot about polymer clay sculpture. Brian and Wendy live in England so I have not yet had the chance to meet either of them, but I do have one of Wendy’s sculpture workshops on DVD about making a faery figure.

I’ve wanted to attend a Froud workshop for quite a while, but it wasn’t until I realized that Brian and Wendy’s son Toby also lives in Portland now and also occasionally teaches workshops that I ever thought that it really could be possible. Toby’s main contribution to the family business is puppets. He’s a puppet maker and puppeteer who works at Laika as a sculptor. Through Wendy’s workshop and my all of my other self-taught knowledge I already know a thing or two about doll making, but I really didn’t know a whole lot about making puppets. In this workshop Toby taught us how to make a rod puppet, which is a fairly simple type of puppet that has more complex guts inside to make it move than you might initially think. An example of a rod puppet is Kermit the Frog and most of the Muppets, although a lot of them are hand-rod puppets because they are controlled by rods and the puppeteers hand inside of their head sock-puppet style for additional movement and facial expression. Rizzo the Rat is actually a better example of the kind of rod puppet we were making, and Toby even brought in the rod mechanism that was inside the one of the original Rizzo puppets to show us! In this workshop we were learning how to make rod puppets with polymer clay heads and hands that had controls for head, neck, shoulder, arm, and hand movements.

I didn’t take nearly as many photos as I should have because the workshop was incredibly intense. It was about seven hours long on Saturday and Sunday of almost nonstop, breakneck pace work! We had an hour break for lunch but many of us (myself included) continued to work on our puppets during lunch break just to catch up. On the first day we sculpted the head and hands. It all started with this block of polymer clay:

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I brought some extra clay with me to mix together with the one that Toby provided us because I decided before the workshop that I wanted to make a creature with a ghostly pale skin tone. It was also Fimo brand clay and a sort of translucent white color called Nightglow–glow in the dark! I had never used a glow in the dark clay before but had always wanted to try it. I also had some beautiful pale pink and red albino glass doll eyes at home that I picked up at an online clearance sale a while back. They were too big for most of the sculptures I make at home but about the perfect size for a puppet, so they were my main inspiration to make an albino creature. This is the quick idea sketch that I drew the night before the workshop and brought with me to class; sort of an albino witchy goat girl:

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First Toby walked us through sculpting a generic human face so that we would have a starting point to work from. We crumpled small sheets of aluminum foil around wire and covered it with masking tape to form the underlying skull structure. Then he explained blocking out the basic proportions of the face in clay. He had us make something that looked like this:

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We added more clay shapes in what he described as “table sausages” and “standard pea shaped balls” (tee-hee.)

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Terrifying, I know.

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Although almost all of us ended up distorting these proportions and making more fantastical creatures of our own design, I think it was a nice way to start as well as a pretty good approach to teaching figurative sculpture within a short time limit. When I start teaching polymer clay sculpture for Vine Gogh I might use a similar method. Part of reason that I really wanted to take this workshop (besides working with one of my art heroes and learning how to build a puppet) was to get ideas on how to design my own classes and how to be a polymer clay instructor. However, since I won’t have two days to teach something I will have to come up with something REALLY simple that we can do in just a couple of hours!

Even the seven hour class was barely enough time to make something this complex. Since I decided to use my nice glass eyes I wanted to at least make something that I felt was good enough for them. Toby also gave us a quick tutorial on how he likes to sculpt hands, which was pretty in line with what I had learned from Wendy’s DVD. I had to rush mine quite a bit but I still think they are among the best that I have ever made. I didn’t take any more work in progress photos while I was sculpting because I was too busy to think about it, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures before Toby put my piece into the oven to bake at the end of the day.

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I decided to add the horns on a whim at the last second. They are made of pure unmixed Nightglow Fimo.

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The next day we started with assembling the inner puppet mechanism. There were a lot of steps and by the time I finally found my pencil Toby was already halfway through the first bit, so I just gave up on trying to understand the technical name of each and every little thing. The supplies we used were all just little bits and bobs that you can get at any hardware store. Here’s some examples:

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We cut all of these different sized dowels and rubber tubing to the appropriate lengths, drilled, pinned and taped some things together, and eventually ended up with these funny pitchfork looking things.

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This was what would eventually become the spine, shoulders, and controls to our puppets. Toby showed us two options in which to position the controller and the spine so that we could either have a puppet with a lurching, hunched over stance (good for creatures and creepy old men) or standing in a more upright position (good for the more humanoid critters.) I opted for the upright configuration. When I first started to assemble my puppet she looked like this:

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Even creepier, right? And so out of focus–my phone really sucks! You can see in the background of this picture that the other people in the workshop had already moved on to next steps, which was painting their puppets and padding out their bodies with batting so that they could start on the costuming. I was meanwhile still trying to envision the proportions of my character when all I had to look at as a guide was a mess of wires and dowels.

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Toby brought a ton of beautiful scraps with him for the hair and clothing fabrication, which is always my most favorite part of the process. He had lots of exciting stuff–piles and piles of fabric with interesting textures, thread, hair, and fur in just about every color, even some leftover animal fur scraps from when he worked on the movie Where the Wild Things Are. I had brought lots of stuff with me too since I had already kind of figured out a color palette for my character when I drew that initial sketch before the workshop. I also brought my mega bag of colorful leather trimmings to share with the class, my mega bag of old-school wooden spool threads that I found at Goodwill one time, and a bag of dried moss that was leftover from some other project I did in the past. It was wonderfully nerdy and awesome discussing good craft supply stores with Toby and the rest of the class, exchanging some valuable tricks of the trade and general crafty advice from people who are all into making the same kind of things. I never even got to really get into the clothing fabrication part before the second class was over for the day; I was still sewing the body stocking that holds all of the batting together and goes under all of the fancy clothing. Most people didn’t finish their puppets completely so it wasn’t like I was the only one, but everyone at least left with an assembled piece that they could finish up at home. For some stupid reason I never even took a picture of my puppet at the end of the workshop, but overall it was all such an overwhelmingly fun experience and I am so glad that I did it!

*PS: I also showed Toby my children’s book at the end of the workshop and he really loved it, so I couldn’t think of a whole lot else at the moment besides, “Holy Hell, that is so frickin’ cool!”

 

 

Thank You, David Bowie

Published January 12, 2016 by baileyquillincooper

David Bowie has been such a major part of my life…the following collection of photos doesn’t even fully represent a decade, just a few choice examples of his inspiration on me as a person over the span of time I still have documented on my computer. He was hands down my number one inspiration for my art and my life in general, as well as my only muse who was still living. Like so many other people across the world today I feel so lost now that he is gone, and I can’t and don’t even want to think about a world without him. Humans are mortal, but muses are not. I am blessed to have shared so much time on Earth with this amazing being before he had to go back home. Thank you, David Bowie.

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Ziggy Fairy Collage

Ziggy Detail

Bowie on My Desk

Ziggy Glam Fairy Sketch

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Jareth Horns

Jareth Blurry

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Halloween Jack 2

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Stardust Sketch 1

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Mick Rock Reflection

Halloween Jack Sketch

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Bowie 60th Birthday Thumbnail

Jareth Stamps

Jareth Storyboard

Pinky Sketches

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