Leather pincushion and sheath

Experiments with wet-moulding leather, using pricking irons and stitching with proper waxed cord.

I’ve been using a jury-rigged back-of-the-hand pincushion for many years, and finally decided to make a proper one. The dome is wet-moulded – stretched over a thermoplastic form and stapled down to a piece of scrap wood. Once it was completely dry I was surprised by how strong then resulting dome was. The punched holes are backed with a piece of linen, and the dome is stuffed with synthetic stuffing fluff. Using pricking irons to make the holes made life a lot easier than last time I did any leatherwork, and doing proper saddle-stitching with waxed cord was also a revelation.

I was concerned that it would be annoying to find the holes when replacing a pin, but I haven’t had any trouble, and the pincushion is very comfortable and convenient to use.

The second piece here is a sheath for the knife I made at a Green Wood Guild workshop, which includes a wooden liner tray to stop the blade cutting straight through the sheath. Cling film to prevent rusting from the wet leather and a LOT of clamps made the exercise pretty straightforward.

Film Challenge – Lead Time

Another short film created under ludicrous conditions by the Tortoisebutler crew. This time I contributed props (including the robot’s bite-down charging plug) and the heads up display that shows us the world from our diminutive robot’s point of view.

The biggest part of the build, though, was the creation of the beast itself: to transform our fantastically physical actor Jinny into a threatening, alien creature that would spring from the darkness and attack our hapless protagonist.

“Let’s do a simple film challenge this year” they said, “Let’s make something simple, light on the FX”… so we wrote a script with a monster. Oh, and we needed to build it in a few hours, using only what we’d brought with us.

Magda’s fantastic body (and head!) stocking gave us a perfect starting point for the transformation, dehumanising Jinny and forming n overlay to attach things to our poor actor.

Given the pale colour of the body stocking, we sketched a sinewy, insectile, carapaced creature that would almost glow in the dark. It needed to be a clear threat, so we armed it with six scything claws, a weird pointy mandible, and spines on head, elbows, and anywhere else that felt like a good idea.

Most of this was accomplished with thermoplastic pierced through the bodystocking or attached to it with double-sided sticky tape. Thermoplastic is my go-to material for creating structural elements on the fly. With some hot water it’s sculptable, it’s springy enough to be safe and tough enough to stand up to rough treatment.

Once our beast was assembled it looked a bit blank, without much secondary movement for our super slo-mo camera. Materials Magda came up trumps again though, with some fantastic long-haired fabric I’ve not seen the like of before. Hooking it through the stocking around the spines gave us a really disturbing ‘hairy insect’ effect and great flowing motion.

The finishing touch was to mix fistfuls of black and red acrylic paints with hair gel, and plaster the hair up into a stiff mane. Strategically applied paint dirtied up our monster even more, and encrusted the claws with ‘gore’ from the struggles of past victims. The pale theme made it stand out starkly, especially when light glowed through the thermoplastic weapons.

Jinny endured so much being our human mannequin in a freezing hall, but I love the hideous and unusual monstrosity we created.

Magda shared a couple of awesome picture sets from the filming here and here, and you can read another crew member’s blog post here.

Photo Credit – TortoiseButler

Rusty skull and bee

An impromptu photoshoot to show some rust treatment experiments with an iron-and-resin version of my mask sculpture, complete with an unexpected model.

Perching bronze wren sculpture

I adore the way that wrens flit from perch to perch, pausing for an instant with tail up and wings slightly lowered. They haven’t visited my garden recently, so I sculpted this bright little thing to watch over my workbench.

Although its base is slightly hollowed out to ensure a stable and secure seat, it weighs about 60 grammes so would make a perfect paperweight for a twitcher or gardener.

Hand-carved in wax then cast in solid bronze, with a satin or mirror finish.

etsy_button_smallest

Deep sea mermaid – version 2

This is an upgrade of my deep sea mermaid costume which I put together for a victoriana-inspired costumed club night a few years ago.
This version takes the original concept, but instead of the boiling hot corset, floor-length fishtail skirt with petticoat, and knee-high New Rock boots combo, I put together a matching outfit that was a bit more comfortable and cool.
I also went for a scarier tone, combining the anglerfish style glowing lure with thin thermoplastic teeth and boldly creepy face-paint – more suitable for a dark and noisy environment, and way more fun to wear. This is definitely a costume I’ll continue to develop, as my prop-making skills evolve. I will probably remake the glowing jellyfish umbrella some time too, because that was beyond awesome and I really miss it.

Hot Air Balloon Quilts

A pair of patchwork and appliquéd quilts, made for a much-loved pair of twins two years ago. The suggested theme was hot air balloons, to match the nursery. I initially designed them as double-sided (day and night), but even after that, I ended up with a far bigger bite than I’d expected to chew through… My first quilt, and not sure I’d make another, although admittedly many of the problems stemmed from the sheer scale and making it up as I went along!

I actually photo-documented the process in some detail for once, thanks to having an assistant, so you can see how I got through it.

BBC Props – Flower of Life

A recent short-notice commission from BBC R&D Production labs – props for a sci-fi short, intended to showcase new technology. The props are a set of broken McGuffins, a light-up palm reading device and a mysterious button, themed around a ‘tree of life’ and ‘flower of life’ design. I haven’t seen the film yet, but they were pretty excited – the writer wanted to take the McGuffins home!