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!

Credits Sequence – Message from Mumbai

For this year’s film challenge, our entry depicts the last contact between two sisters, about to be separated for 30 years as a rogue exoplanet diverts one’s home planet’s orbital trajectory.  Say that five times fast.

In a film challenge, I usually have 20 seconds to cram the credits into, tacked on the end of our 3-5 minute film.  With actors, a team of about 10 and lots people to thank, it’s tricky to fit everything in and make it readable.  I had to drop dramatic impact and the loneliness of space for a dense but elegant arrangement, but I’m pretty pleased with the result. If I’d had more time, I would animate the planets along their orbital paths, and give each ‘page’ solo time on screen, as well as using a better blur which moves across the screen, rather than streaming everything upwards.

Film challenge – Message from Mumbai

Tortoisebutler’s entry into this year’s Sci-Fi London 48 hour film-making challenge.

The given mandatory criteria:
Title – Message from Mumbai
Prop – A handful of ball bearings is passed from one character’s hand to another
Line of dialogue – “These things come full circle. Why do you think it’s called a revolution?”

We shot up in Manchester this year, camping out on an empty floor of a converted cotton mill – oodles of space, not much in the way of power sockets or chairs, but it was a fantastic weekend and great to work with the team again.

The film stepped away from our usual time travel and action staples, working instead with a single location, a ‘talking heads’ focus, and working to build a world and a mood. I’m too close to it to assess it clearly, but although watching it felt slow and un-dramatic, I think that the feelings of love, loss and hope we were looking for came across, without resorting to manufactured conflict or blame. The actresses did a beautiful job of conveying brittle, forced cheerfulness over a crushing inevitability.

I helped out on the writing for the first time, including creating more ‘Science Bits’ at the start to help it make sense, although it was too late to tweak the rest to match, alas… I learned a lot, and it’s conquered a lot of my long-seated ‘I can’t come up with stories’ blind spot.  The experience also made me more aware of how much a story turns into a graphic novel in my head, so next time I’d like to add storyboards, if I can!

I also aided Ms Costume and did the credits sequence, which I love so much I’m going to do a separate post on them.

Oh, and one of our actresses turned out to be an operatically trained singer, so I wrote some lyrics to match our composer’s original score (in about two minutes flat). Alas we only had time to record three lines (hold on ’till the credits to hear it!) but there’s talk of turning it into a proper song!

One day, one day…

PS. Hammocks are absolutely fantastic, I’m absolutely taking one next time!

WIP – Tree Sculpture

Further progress on my indoor tree sculpture – testing out full-sized vellum leaves (with odd-coloured sheet), incorporating a more advanced balance mechanism, with branches constructed from foraged plastic sheeting. I think the proportions are off, but I’m very happy with the look of the leaves, with the pleating of the vellum nicely echoing the texture and transparency of real beech leaves. Next: tweaking proportions, testing addition of hinging to the branches.

Swinging copper discs in progress

Prototyping a new pair of earrings – swirly hardware and a lightly dished bright copper disc with a hammered texture. I’m delighted with how elegant, shimmery and eye-catching these turned out. I also feel my soldering has improved a great deal – not to mention that it’s great to have a second torch when you’re working on something just a little to big for one to handle alone. Unfortunately my camera’s away for repairs, so here are some dodgy phone pictures.