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May 21, 2006

thinking about set design

by sven at 8:00 am

I've been thinking about set design for stopmo films.

"Theatre de la Mode" dolls

Back on Sunday May 7, Gretchin and myself and our friends Todd & Kristen made an excursion to the Maryhill Museum of Art, about 90 minutes east of us. I was really excited to go see their collection of Theatre de la Mode dolls, which I had discovered previously in a book titled Théâtre de la Mode: Fashion Dolls: The Survival of Haute Couture that was being sold at Fabric Depot (700 SE 122nd Ave).

"Doll" is perhaps a misnomer. These are 1:3 scale (27" tall) mannequins with wire mesh bodies and white clay heads reminiscent of Greek sculpture. They were created in post-WWII France, in a (successful) attempt to revive the fashion industry. More than 70 unique dolls were created by leaders of the art/fashion world; they were displayed in sets created by noted theatrical designers (e.g. Jean Cocteau). The dolls are amazing art -- but I think it's probably the sets that are really sparking my imagination.

...Unfortunately, the dolls weren't actually at the Maryhill Art Museum when we visited! They were temporarily on loan to the Washington Museum of History and Industry ("MOHAI") up in Seattle. However, by a strange serendipity, Gretchin and I wound up traveling to Seattle the following weekend (May 12). How could we not go see the dolls? It seemed fated.

So, yes, I finally got to see the dolls. :-)

Seattle Public Library

While we were in Seattle, we also made a visit to the Seattle Public Library. Gretchin had been there before, and raved to me about the architecture. Wow! She wasn't exaggerating -- it's a truly fascinating design... And one of the few examples of postmodern architecture that I've really grooved on.

heart of the library

The part of the library that I'm most taken with is in the core of the building: it's built to look like the interior of an enormous heart! The walls are red -- like the color of Mickey Mouse's shorts -- and the hallways curve away from you like ventricles... I would love to make a set for a stopmo film that looks like that!

set #1

Now, backtracking to the Monday after we didn't see the Theatre de la Mode dolls...

On May 8th I spent a happy two hours using cardstock to brainstorm 3D spaces for my puppets to inhabit. (I may not have seen the dolls and their sets in person at that point in time -- but I had come home with a fist full of Theatre de la Mode post cards!)

set #2

I bought a whole ream of this white cardstock at Arvey Paper & Office Products (1005 SE Grand Ave) a while back. It's proved really useful on a number of occasions. It doesn't take paint like I'd want, however; acrylics make it warp. ...True, I could use foamcore -- but paper's quicker, more inexpensive, and more recycleable when I'm just brainstorming.

set #3

After a while, I wound up with several bits that I just kept rearranging: a staircase, an arch, a platform, a pillar, some flat walls. I could see making a bunch more of these pieces to experiment with. ...Sort of like playing with wooden blocks!

It's funny: as I fooled around with my little paper props, I found myself thinking increasingly spatially. When I went to bed that night, all sorts of interesting spaces were occuring to me -- as if I'd unlocked a part of my imagination that's always been dormant.

posted by sven | May 21, 2006 8:00 AM | categories: miscellany, stopmo