Thursday, August 14, 2014

Meet Tico the Writing Mouse

I'm delighted to present to you... at long last.... TICO The Writing Mouse (larger scale puppet)! Here he is with me and his smaller scale double. I love how he looks running amok in my canned goods and hiding out in a teacup. His little version has had his latex paws and tail repaired with Omnigel. And now has a green neckerchief like the big guy. They wear different nut caps but both look great.
The small scale puppet for Writing Mouse (seen upper right in upper left square) was made 20 years ago. The larger scale version was needed for the Mouse House interior sequences. You can see the way I attempted to match him in crudeness and lack of movement while giving him more articulation in his expression. Build up style on dead simple Almaloy armature. Used tacky glue to fill out his shape with polyfiberfill, held until dry by a length of fine wire. His ears are a doubled piece of copper foil so they'll be readily positionable. Snout and bottom jaw wired to move and 3-toes and fingers built up with Omnigel.
Thin textured non-stretch fabric was sewn on for skin and fur, later painted to match. Back of ears flocked in custom grey. Tail had to be snipped off and re-attached further toward the end of his spine. D'uh. You can see how it was straight through him at first (first photo) and to where it was moved (upper right above). Beads for eyes and teefus. Had to carefully add longer hairs of white by cutting clumps from a longer length faux fur and sprinkling the fibers onto a lightly coated matte medium surface. When he was all done he checked out his house (smoking his pipe seen through the hole lower left) And reading the news atop a match box.
His glasses were made so easily (compared to the smaller pair) from a gauge I had on hand that I felt was correct. I used micro thin brass wire to secure the frames. I used purple sewing thread to wrap the arms and the bridge, just like the genuine antique frames I have embedded in his set. For the small pair years ago, I used liquid starch that became the lenses when dry. This time I used a non-toxic urethane glue (seen lower left above dried in the new frames and as a dried disk between my fingers). Lower right Tico models his favorite natural pod cap. His whiskers were made from stiffened faux fur strands.
He looks so sweet reading in his chair. And out back in the macro set, and climbing dandelion stems, or even checking out a our-world pencil. (A Ticonderoga #2, and how he got his name.)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Scenes From A Bug Party

Clean Up Crew

Poor little buggy is the lone staff at the bug party. He alone will have to clean up after everyone else's good time. Something so sad and forlorn about this little fellow.
One of the quickie Beady Bugs looked so meek and humble, he kind of dictated that he should be the only one working while everyone else was having a party. I had a blast painting his little beetle back with stripes and ugly nub bumps. I gave him a sliced wood tray stacked high with dirty dishes and have him using all his arms to wipe up messes. One of the cups is rigged to swing from his antennae.


It all started with this post on Cute Overload (a source of MANY real life ideas stolen to use in Halfland). The clip shows a Rhodinia fugax caterpillar being gently touched on the tush and the squeaks it makes in defense.

The Halfland version wears a party hat and has a tooting party favor in its mouth. His bottom is getting pressed by a delicate long-limbed four-legged colorful spider hiding under a rock crevice.

Every time tootles gets tickled he lets out a party horn blast. (preview the sound here). I knew the pinch-er had to be lightweight enough so that the gag wouldn't cause any concern of harm for the viewers. A stronger bug pinching him might make people feel as though the caterpillar was being eaten or injured. It's still creepy, I think because the spider's legs are so long, even with just four legs instead of eight. But I tried to make it less threatening using cheerful stripes and bright colors.
Using seed pods, beads and aluminium alloy wire, the most non-threatening spider I could make. She even has a wee flower behind her ear.  She's finished with custom-mixed flocking powders for a soft velvety texture.

The pillar's tush squeeze is made animate-able with a blob of Fun Tack under his green rubber glove skin. It can depress and return over and over without drying out. His party horn ticklers are wired to coil and unfurl with each toot.

Beady Bugs

One of the fast-to-make bead bugs turned itself into an ant so I went with it. Now it's eating cake at the party.
I forget how it started, but I remember I realized I needed to make lot of bugs... oh yeah! it was the idea of making footlight fireflies for the bug party stage that got me going. I knew I wanted five identical little critters, with light up bums, and I didn't want to labor over them. Fast and easy was the notion. BEADS! bingo. I didn't drill them, although that could be done, with a fine hand drill if more care/time were wanted.

I used 32 gauge steel wire from Kit Kraft (my favorite wire), using the holes already there, kept layering and assembling shapes, seeing what might happen. It was so fun. All different bugs came into being really quickly. None of them were useful for the footlights but they ALL got used as guests at the party (see upcoming party scene photos to see if you want to try to spot where).

The point of this post is to tell you that this bead method worked so well it gave me the pathway to make all the creatures listed on the project trays seen at lower right! Hooray for beads!

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