April 2006 archives

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April 29, 2006

ars gratia artis

by gl. at 10:51 pm

i was driving to water aerobics while opb's "philosophy talk" was on -- and the topic was "what is art?"! the guest was a princeton professor. i only caught 15-20 minutes of it and it was hard to scribble notes and drive at the same time, so this is likely to be disjointed. some of this is what they said, and some of this is me extrapolating from what they said; it's not meant to have permanent conclusions, but i like thinking about it.

their definition of art is from the mac's built-in dictionary (ha!): "the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power." this lead to a predictable tangent about the role beauty plays in art, but i find it interesting they left emotional power alone as a given. overall it seems like a reasonably useful definition to me, something i could say without cringing, though "producing works to be appreciated" is often a giant block for people. better to define it as an act of creative self-expression so that appreciative response is not a requirement to produce.

they also mentioned plato's definition of art, but i must have missed them talking about it. apparently he had a poor opinion of art & artists, and wikipedia agrees: "For Plato, art is a pursuit whose adherents are not to be trusted; given that their productions imitate the sensory world (itself an imitation of the divine world of forms) art necessarily is an imitation of an imitation, and thus is hopelessly far from the source of the truth. Plato, it may be noted, barred artists from access to his ideal city, in his Republic." he criticizes artists for having no actual, truthful knowledge of the things they create, which in many ways is the point for me: you don't have to know astronomy to be so moved by the stars that you create art because of them, and your interpretation of your experience contributes uniquely to the world. (related: knowing the science of something doesn't make it less poetic.)

this is actually where i came in: for many people, art is surface. "people think, 'oh, i could do that,' and no, you couldn't. if you could, why wouldn't you?" you can't see the way that artists sees. when people say that, they mean they don't see the craft in it, the work in it, the story about it. and we don't encourage it, either: modernism is all about creating art in a self-referential vaccuum. i'm leaning towards declaring that any art worth experiencing is art with a story, a history. these are the things that inspire further exploration and engagement: everything else is simply aesthetics. but entertainment & enjoyment are legitimate uses for art (even the princeton guy said so); and i sometimes get a little misty when just looking at a calligraphic line or the beautifully turned ankle of a serif A. i don't need the stories to be moved by the shapes.

later they talked about art audiences: making art for the "beginning viewer." their premise is that the consumption of art, like any medium, requires work. for instance, the more you read murder mysteries, the more sophisticated you become (but beginning readers need appropriately challenging & rewarding stories to progress to higher levels of sophistication). this concept may explain why i get misty about simple letterforms, because i am no longer a beginner viewer and i have done years of typesetting. so if you have to learn what you're looking at to appreciate it, where do you begin? "museums don't help." (i would have liked to have heard more about this; i would have liked to have heard ideas about how museums could help). Artists-with-a-capital-A have moved from making art for the beginning viewer and make art for other Artists-with-a-capital-A (or possibly Critics-with-a-capital-C) instead; when artists stop making art for the beginning viewer, it's no wonder art is unsupported and devalued. it's part of the reason why i want people to make art for themselves, to give themselves a richer visual vocabulary, a generous heart and kinder eyes towards art of all types. art appreciation via art production.

earlier this month i ran across something dave eggers (from mcsweeny's) wrote that's pertinent here: "What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand... What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say. Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes... And if anyone wants to hurt me for that, or dismiss me for that, for saying yes, I say Oh do it, do it you motherfuckers, finally, finally, finally."

okay. discuss. :)

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: miscellany

April 27, 2006

our house

by sven at 1:42 pm

The house is really ours!

sixty-two signatures

Today we went in to the title company and I wrote my signature (or initials) sixty-two times. ...Yes, we counted. :-D

Officially, the sale will be recorded on May 1st. We actually could have signed a few days earlier -- but wanted to hold off... May 1st makes for a more memorable day, in terms of looking back. (And it's my unbirthday.)

big brick institution, tiny little buyers

I know you're going to ask: "How does it feel?"

It feels... Kinda unreal. Having been living in the house already, not much is actually changing. Going into all of this I realized that we're missing a lot of the usual rituals: searching high and low for a house, packing and moving all the stuff, getting the house key. In some ways this has been a lot more like refinancing. After all this work, the only thing that's tangibly different is that I have a six inch stack of papers beside my desk.

our house

Oh, but I'm not really that jaded! There's also a sense of elation. And: "Wow, really?" ...Pinching ourselves to see if we're dreaming might not be a bad image here.

Part of me feels like I'm becoming the groundskeeper at a school. It's now my job to make sure that this place -- this living architecture and soil -- is maintained. So I feel like I'm taking on new "responsibility"... Not in the sense that I'm any more "adult" than I've ever been -- but as if there's maybe a new kitten in the household for us to take care of. (Um, a 50,000 pound baby kitten...)

planting our new garden

This past week I created wooden boxes for raised-bed gardens in the backyard. The house itself may be the same... But in the backyard -- here's an area where it feels like we're just beginning to move in. And when we ultimately paint the house -- then I think we'll feel like we're making our mark, making this place ours.

Planting our new garden: nice metaphor, don'tcha think?

posted by sven | permalink | categories: studio space

April 25, 2006

workin' out

by gl. at 10:36 pm

who knew water aerobics was going to be a place for networking? i am pretty shy when i'm not actually facilitating and even more so when i'm in a swimsuit (or not in a swimsuit in the locker room). but i skipped a water aerobics class thursday to host the artist's way open studio and several people commented on me being gone.

when i hesitantly told them about the studio, they were very excited. an artist! that probably explained a lot about me, including my funny car. ;) so i was a little self-conscious because we were all trying to dry off and get dressed, but i did feel like i suddenly existed -- there were introductions and asking about classes and the handing out of cards.

several women were disparaging about their own talents, of course, and i wish i had a better set of responses for them. my approach to art & artist's way focuses on art exploration and creative self-expression: i don't care how good you are, i only care that you want to create something that means something to you. the skill will come as you allow yourself to work with the art, but most people get too discouraged too soon and don't give themselves a chance. you'd never learn to talk if you expected entirely elegant sentences to form the first time, you know?

unrelated but important to mention: i got my commission check from collage for the 4x4 show today! hooray!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way, exhibits & events

April 23, 2006

a film by the unconscious collective: "catch"

by sven at 12:00 pm

The "Unconscious Collective" was an informal filmmaking group that I initiated following a double-feature movie party at my place (Delicatessen and The Cook, The Thief, The Wife, and Her Lover). The group -- which eventually included Leopoldo Marino, Carl Caputo, Andrew Stout, Laura Grant, Gretchin and myself -- was active from November 2003 to June 2004. Our mission: "Get together, make a movie. Do it in one night. Use what you've got. Work with whoever shows up."

This is the final film that the Unconscious Collective made.

click on image to play clip (582 KB)

Nearly all of the films we made are available online at my Unconscious Collective website. The clips are encoded as mp4's. ...When I tried to encode "Catch", the sound didn't sync up right... Which is why it has taken until now to get it online. --Three cheers for the Sorenson3 codec!

The night we made "Catch" I came to the meeting with a vague notion that we might try making an animation. Each of us made a bunch of drawings with sharpie markers on typing paper. Using these pictures as inspiration, we brainstormed a simple story. I took digital photographs of the drawings and cleaned them up in PhotoShop. I did the animation in AfterEffects while everyone hung out and chatted. The voice of the pup was provided by Gretchin.

All told, I don't think the clip took more than 4 hours to complete.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: movies

April 22, 2006

first time online: the "let sleeping gods lie" trailer!

by sven at 12:00 pm

For those of you just joining us...

Let Sleeping Gods Lie is my "serious" film project that I've been working on since 2003, and hope to complete in 2007. The one-minute teaser-trailer premiered at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival last October. This is the first time I've put the completed teaser online... I was kinda burnt out after last summer's big push. ;-)

click on image to play clip (4.45 MB)

Previous "making of" posts can be found in the blog's let sleeping gods lie category.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: let sleeping gods lie, movies

April 21, 2006

artist's way open studio review (april)

by gl. at 2:19 am

lots of travelers tonight from elsewheres this month: 3 from salem, one from beaverton! we had two dropouts at the last minute but i was able to fill one of the slots and it really was just enough people, anyway.

i tried a "theme" this month that was based on the first artist's way chapter (safety), but really it was more of an intent, a way to focus the piece while still applying intuitive collage techniques. i was pretty happy with the results; i felt like everyone got a chance to see the pieces and respond to each other, something that had been missing because everyone finished at different times and there was just enough time to take a picture before they went home. but this format makes it much more like an unpaid session of artist's way, and i had forgotten that was one of the reasons i chose the casual format, since i'd like to keep collage night free.

["it can't be denied i have quills inside": click the image for the other collages]

this piece actually uses sharp porcupine quills around the star & moon. certainly not my cuddliest piece ever, but i know i've got them and ocassionally still use them, though less than i used to. the background is a photocopy of one of the amazing moonprints. on the left side you can see a small dab of gold leaf. the title appeared fully formed from the 3-minute writing we did before we showed the pieces we had made, and i found that to be very helpful to grapple with the language of the piece before having to talk about it with others. by the way, the silver square is from an elephant's deli easter jellybean package. :)

one issue: i wish progressive women who are otherwise kind, generous and compassionate would forgo the unfortunate tendency to boy-bash. it's especially disheartening when there's an actual boy in the room (like, oh, say, sven). i know if i was the only girl in a room of boys who were talking disparagingly about the things that "women always...." do, i'd feel compelled to object (and then leave if they continued), but good pro-feminist boys just have to take it. the same thing happens at the job club for creatives and i don't know how to address it directly. i simply change the subject or scowl until someone else does. as a facilitator i want to do better.

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

April 19, 2006

against keeping your film production secret

by sven at 8:39 pm

[I just wrote a long post over at StopMotionAnimation.com that's worth repeating here. Leevi Lehtinen is working on an excellent stopmo film, and my blog brother Ale suggested that Leevi shouldn't show us any more clips from the work until it's complete. I've been roughing out an essay about why I'm against keeping film projects secret -- Ale's comment just opened the floodgates.]

Keep it up and please don't show so much about the film! I love it, but prefer to see it completed!

Oh! I must respectfully disagree with Ale! PLEASE, don't hesitate to post work-in-progress shots! If a viewer does not want to see the film until it is completed, then it is their own responsibility to not click on those files.

I am of the opinion that getting to see the film as it's being made only enhances the experience. Rather than spending five minutes of attention on your well-crafted work of art, I get to spend months or years enjoying it bit-by-bit. I'm cheering you on -- and when it is completed, I feel that in some small way I was able to help make it possible -- by being a supportive ear / eye.

Telling artists not to show their work until it's done -- this doesn't help them at all! Isolation is a terrible motivator. Look at SMA itself: when we get to share our energy, we are reinvigorated and inspired to do more! Sharing encourages sharing -- and that's where we get our spark.

"Keeping it secret" is NOT a step towards professionalism. Look at Peter Jackson's online "making-of" video diary for King Kong. Look at how Joss Whedon showed rough cuts of Serenity to eager audiences... Sharing the process of creation -- as you're creating -- is an excellent way to build your audience prior to release.

...And after your film is released, showing the "making-of" doesn't somehow spoil the magic. Pick up almost any DVD, and you'll see "making of" documentaries. The viewing public knows movies aren't magic -- we're curious to see how they're made, and only gain respect by learning how well-crafted the film is. The "making-of" is part of the product, just as marketable as the film itself.

The film-viewing public is literate and should get to make their own choices where "spoilers" are concerned. For example, when the new Star Wars movies came out, myself and lots of my friends knew that there would be spoilers -- and we conscientiously avoided them. In the world of blogging, there's an etiquette whereby you warn people that there may be "spoilers" in your post so they can decide for themselves if they want to read on.

The movie itself is only half the story. I want to know about about the people who made it. There are movies that I go to not because I know anything about the film -- but because the film is a Peter Jackson- or George Lucas- or James Cameron- or Steven Spielberg- or Jim Henson- or Joss Whedon- or Martin Scorsese- or Whoever- film. As filmmakers, we shouldn't try make ourselves invisible. Ultimately what we want is for people to be invested in US. Hopefully I'm not going to make just one film. I'm going to make several or many films -- and I want my audience to follow ME as I grow and create.

I don't know what Nick Hilligoss' next film is going to be about -- but it doesn't matter! I already know that I want to see it! Same goes for the the next film by Mike Brent or Alejo Accini or Jeffrey Roche or Shelley Noble or Dave Hettmer or Lio Ivan Orozco or Marc Spess or (forgive me, folks I'm failing to name)... I want to see WHATEVER these people do next, because I've come care about them and what they're doing.

And I want to know about their work as it's in progress, too. So, please -- everyone -- keep sharing your works-in-progress!


posted by sven | permalink | categories: movies, stopmo, writing

April 18, 2006

buying a lab scale

by sven at 12:00 pm

my new lab scale

It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I can begin experimenting with toxics like resin and urethane foam.

Part of what's held me up is that I've lacked a precision lab scale. I did a bunch of shopping around on Amazon.com and finally found one that is both inexpensive and meets an animator's needs. To all you stopmoes out there, I recommend the 1000 x .1g Precision Lab Table Scale from US Balance.

The standard scale that you'd use for weighing chemicals is the Ohaus 750-SO Triple Beam Scale. This is what I remember using in high school, and (I believe) what Kathi Zung uses in her "Do It Yourself! Foam Latex Puppetmaking 101" DVD. Amazon currently sells the triple beam for $99. I've seen it sold for $150 at other places -- Amazon is offering a good deal. ...But I really wanted a digital scale if at all possible.

So: how to decide what scale to buy? I think there are three factors to consider: How accurate is the scale? How much weight can it accommodate? And what is the cost?

Ohaus 750-SO Triple Beam Scale

The standard triple beam model is accurate down to .1 grams -- so I decided that whatever digital scale I chose should also be able to measure in .1 gram increments. As for price range, I was hoping to find an option that was no more expensive than the triple beam's normal cost, $150. I decided that if all the digital scales were more expensive than that, then I'd sacrifice convenience and just buy the triple beam.

Fortunately, after a thorough search I found three decent candidates.

Ohaus SP-401 Scout Pro Digital Scale, 400 x .1 g

The Ohaus SP-401 Scout Pro Digital Scale costs $114.95 -- but can only accommodate 400 grams. One pound equals 453 grams; so the SP-401 can't even deal with four sticks of butter!

HL2000 HI Digital Scale

The HL2000 HI Digital Scale from A&D Engineering costs $130.23, and can accommodate 2000 grams (four pounds). A bit more expensive -- but much more useful, being able to deal with larger batches of chemicals.

1000 x .1g Precision Lab Table Scale

The Precision Lab Table Scale from US Balance can deal with 1000 grams -- but only costs $40!! It's a reasonable compromise in terms of how much weight it can measure (2.2 pounds)... And for $40, I decided I could afford to make a mistake, if this turned out to be a bad purchase.

Luckily, it's turned out to be a very good purchase. So far -- (knock on wood) -- no complaints whatsoever!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sculpture, stopmo

April 17, 2006

toxic cupcakes

by sven at 9:25 pm

During the past two months I've purchased several new-to-me art materials: ultra-cal 30, RTV silicone, polyurethane casting resin, glass microspheres, and "self-skinning flexible expanding urethane foam". On Saturday I finally had the opportunity to play with all this stuff. Doing small experiments in paper drinking cups, I now have a bunch of odd castings that look like... toxic cupcakes.

"toxic cupcakes"

What do I plan to do with all these materials? Well, they'll allow me to make molds and castings with a precision that I've never achieved before. So as an artist, I'm interested in them just for the sake of having more techniques at my disposal. However, there are two projects that they may apply to immediately:

Project #1: I want to try making a stopmo puppet with a body cast in foam. Foam latex is the standard for this application. However, foam latex has several problems: it involves 4 chemical components; it requires a dedicated kitchen mixer and oven; it is very vulnerable to temperature/humidity/barometric pressure; and it starts to rot after a few years. ...Contrast this with urethane foam: it only has two components, cures at room temperature, and doesn't rot. --Worth a shot, don'tcha think?

Project #2: I like puppets with heads that are very large in proportion to their bodies. How do I make heads that are light enough so that the puppet won't tip over? Mike Brent suggested that I should try casting my puppet heads in resin. You can get a filler material (such as glass micro-spheres) that will lighten the casting significantly... And as an additional benefit: If you're doing castings, when a puppet breaks you can just cast another!

working on the studio porch

These materials give off toxic fumes, so I have to work with them outside. However, this is Oregon... It was rainy and windy on Saturday -- so I wound up working on the front porch, manipulating the chemicals inside of cardboard boxes that served as wind-breaks. It worked adequately; but boy do I wish we had a covered driveway!

material tests

Please refer to the photo above...

The front two "cupcakes" are polyurethane resin. This resin has you mixing part A and part B in a 1:1 ratio by volume, but allows for 5-10% error. For the cupcake on the left, I measured out part A and part B by weight (oops) on my new lab scale. It cured in roughly 20 minutes... It looked sort of like liquid lard congealing, a white clot appearing in the clear fluid. I was disappointed to see tiny bubbles over much of the casting's surface.

For the resin cupcake on the right, I tried eyeballing the measurements, and added in the glass microspheres as filler. The bottom-most part of the casting didn't seem as if it was going to cure -- which I attribute to the poor measurements... But the next day, I was surprised to find that the remaining material did finally harden. Conclusion: I prefer not to eyeball measurements. ...The microspheres definitely lightened the material -- and they also smoothed out the surface a great deal. Yay microspheres!

Next steps for exploring resin: The bottles "glug" when I pour them -- I need to see if I can find some screw-on spigots for more precise pouring. I tried painting the resin with acrylic -- but even dry, it wiped off easily. I suspect that resin requires enamel based paints. However, I may be able to use an enamel-based spray primer, over which I could paint acrylics. That, I believe, is how wargamers paint their plastic and metal miniatures -- so I'll have to pick some up at Bridgetown Hobby. ...I'm also interested in trying out some black pigment that gets mixed directly into the resin.

In the back row on the left is my first experiment with the expanding urethane foam. I was really surprised to discover that it cures in only about six minutes. There were gooey uncured areas at the bottom of the cup, however; I don't know what to make of that. The material feels like a Nerf football -- only a bit stiffer.

The next cupcake is an experiment I did to see if the urethane would stick to ultra-cal 30. I knew that urethane foam has a reputation for adhering to anything -- but I hoped against hope that the self-skinning variety would be different. No luck. This was my first batch of ultra-cal... I eyeballed how much water to add, and it turned out fine. It took a good deal longer to set-up than I expected, though -- around half an hour.

I checked The Prop Builder's Molding & Casting Handbook to see what mold-release it recommended for making urethane foam casts in a plaster mold. It said that PVA (white glue?) could work, but is not recommended. Instead, urethane foam should be cast in silicone molds. This leads us to the pretty blue cupcake...

The blue cupcake is made of silicone. Silicone is the gooiest stuff I've ever encountered: like wet peanut butter mixed with caulking. I wanted to actually try making a mold with this stuff, so I dangled a wooden sphere from a wire into the paper cup, and then poured in the silicone around it. I was worried that the cold would interfere with curing -- but it seemed to be cured after only six hours, which was listed as the minimum set time. I cut open the silicone with a razor, and bundled it back together with a rubber band. I used the hole where the wire had been as a pour hole, and made an impromptu paper funnel to help channel in the urethane...

The casting was OK, but not great. Air got trapped in the mold, so my casting wasn't perfectly spherical. I guess I need a second hole, so air can escape. The expanding foam was under pressure inside the mold, so it wound up being a good deal denser than I'd like. The surface is relatively smooth, but has pitting that looks like the pores in the skin of your nose. That pretty much terminates my fantasy of doing urethane foam puppets without latex skins. Drat.

One nice thing I'll say about the urethane though: It's really easy to paint. The sphere looks like a cherry because I painted it with red acrylic. The paint doesn't rub or peel off; and it's so flexible, I question whether you'd even need PAX paint if you were doing an all-urethane puppet.

The cupcake on the far right is another ultra-cal test. I did a quick google on the material, and discovered that 38 parts water for every 100 parts ultra-cal is recommended. This batch seemed to have a little water left over; now that I think about it, I wonder if it's because I measured by weight instead of volume? ...Even so, it set up. I tried painting some liquid latex on top; latex (unlike the urethane) comes off easily.

Conclusion: It looks like my next puppet will be made from flexible urethane foam with a latex skin, all cast in an ultra-cal 30 mold. The foam seems to be fluffiest when it has ample room to escape -- so I'll need to make vent holes in the puppet's feet. I have some Pro Adhesive (a Prosaide knock-off) for making PAX paint...

So I guess at this point I have everything I need to get started!!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sculpture, stopmo

April 16, 2006

happy easter from scarlet star studios!

by gl. at 11:38 pm


we hardly ever refuse a reason to celebrate a holiday; we colored organic eggs and hid gifts inside little plastic ones. it gave me a chance to play w/ the little letter stamps sven got at harbor freight, thanks to a great tip from a woman on the se portland artwalk. this won't make sense to most people (it's based on a story of eggs who dream of being something else), but i find it charming, anyway, especially when it's emerging from a very small plastic egg:


i used the 1/16" metal stamps on an aluminum dog tag, then rubbed the letters w/ black acrylic and wiped the excess away. does anyone know what jewellers use on letter-stamped bracelets?

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: miscellany, printing

April 9, 2006


by gl. at 11:01 am

yesterday trixie took us to flying pie pizza and when we emerged, sated and energized from a game of non-competitive scrabble, we found a note:

"Cool car! Sorry our toddler shoved a lot of the pieces down your passenger side engine crack though. Opps."

so we opened up the hood and indeed, there were several poetry magnets inside the engine. opps!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: trixie

April 8, 2006

artist's way independent support

by gl. at 2:26 pm

today i used an exercise for one of my independent support students i probably wouldn't do in a group. it's a perception & concentration exercise, simple but effective: you simply write the differences between two objects for 5 minutes. in this case, i gave her a glass bottle w/ scarlet ink & a small glass pyramid. after 5 minutes, you do it for another 5 minutes, and then ANOTHER five minutes. so you write for 15 minutes total about the differences between these fairly simple objects, and each time, much to your surprise, you're able to see a little bit more. by the end of 15 minutes your perception has notably shifted and your brain becomes focused -- great for days you might begin scattered or think you have no new ideas. i got this idea from corita kent's learning by heart.

oh, and this was the centerpiece i forgot to write about last week. it's spring!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: artist's way

April 7, 2006

lighting: par cans

by sven at 12:00 pm

I just got my par cans in the mail.

dramatic blue lighting

As I had hoped, these lights allow me to create more dramatic lighting.

American DJ PAR 46 Can with Lamp

The PAR 46 is what's lighting all the test photos here.

Odyssey PAR 16 Pro Pin Spot

The PAR 16 didn't come with a bulb -- and I'm a little confused about what I need to get for it -- so it hasn't been tested yet. Just to give you a sense of scale: this one's small enough that a 60watt bulb wouldn't fit inside of its housing.

blue gel

The blue gel produces the happiest results. As Gretchin pointed out, I could use it to suggest a moonlit night.

red gel

The red gel created surprisingly saturated results. If I hadn't taken this shot myself, I would have sworn it was photoshopped... But no -- the pic is unaltered.

green gel

The green gel didn't really do much for me one way or the other.

Prior to the arrival of the par cans, I'd been using lights that are made for photographers doing portrait shoots. They are amazingly bright -- the par can can't compete at all. I suspect I'll order another par can or two in the not too distant future... Maybe some PAR 64's? I'd like to be able to do a traditional three-point lighting arrangement.

I'd also really like to get dimmers for the lights -- but I haven't been able to find anything appropriate yet. If I could dim my white lights, then maybe I could use them together with the par cans... which would be nice.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: movies, stopmo

April 6, 2006

building sets with insulation foam

by sven at 6:00 pm

Back on March 15 I made my first foray into set-building. (I've been meaning to write about this for a while!)

giving Percy a world to inhabit

From what I've read online, it seems that one of the most versatile materials for making stopmo sets is insulation foam -- so I started there. I used 1" thick pink Dow insulation foam-board to create a 24"x15" stone wall.

I hacked into the foam with a steak knife to create an irregular surface. Then, I painted the entire thing with black (acrylic) gesso. On top of this basecoat I dry-brushed three layers of acrylic: burnt umber, a gray, and finally a very pale gray. I was originally trying to create the look of a cave wall. I don't think I got that. Maybe a cliff face, maybe granite that's been roughly mined...

the wall

Even so -- for a first try, I'm very pleased with the results. Here's what I'll need to explore next...