Soft Sculpture

Little Felt Guys

It was Saturday afternoon and I was wandering aimlessly through a fabric store waiting PATIENTLY for my wife to look at EVERY SINGLE DRESS PATTERN IN THE STORE and I stumbled onto (literally) a clearance bin with really cheap felt in it and the next thing I know it’s Sunday afternoon, Karen is sitting at her sewing machine making dresses and I’m sitting in an easy chair turning my bargain felt purchase into these little things.

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 4

My stop-motion hedge knight, Sir Duncan The Tall, is now pretty much complete. His head and mouth can move as well as his legs, arms and fingers.

HKnight1

He still needs a few props, so I build him a sword out of Sculpey and a shield out of balsa wood.

HKnight2

I also make him a massive pair of shoulder pads just in case the Kansas City Chiefs decide to take him with their first pick in this years NFL Draft.

HKnight3

Ok, this guy is pretty much ready to make his big screen, stop-motion film debut.

HKnight4

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 3

Yesterday I got the feet made to my stop-motion puppet, today I tackle the hands. The first thing I do is sketch out a hand that is roughly the right size on a piece of paper.

HKhand1

Using a light gage aluminum wire I build the framework of each hand.

HKhand2

I hot glue a piece of cardboard to the palm of each hand so they will retain their shape. I then add a thin layer of hot glue to all the aluminum wire in order to add strength to it.

HKhand3

Finally, I sew on some fine leather gloves with elegant fur trim. I add some Sculpey painted armor to the top of the hands and they are finished.

HKhand4

Tomorrow… the next step towards finish.

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 2

Yesterday I got my stop-motion puppet roughed in and today I need to add some feet to it. I cut basic shapes out of cardboard and hot glue them to the foot dowel, but unfortunately, since I have no actual plan to work from, (I kinda just make things up as I go) I am completely at a loss as to what to do next…

HKfeet1

I look around my studio and find some scuzzy old modeling clay that is left over from a previous project. I use it to shape up the top part of the feet. (If any of you are old Mort Drucker fans you might recognize where my feet come from.)

HKfeet2

Ok, that worked pretty well, but now there is another problem. This clay is not the kind that ever dries and it’s a bit oily. Any kind of fabric material I put directly on top of that clay will immediately become all splotched and greasy looking. What to do? I decide at this point the best thing I can do is go to the kitchen to get something to eat and… hey… how about Kitchen Plastic Wrap?! I wrap the feet and they are now ready to be finished up.

HKfeet3

I like the way the top of the feet look, but they are pretty flat. They need a bit more depth to them, so I hot glue some scrap wood to the bottom of each foot to get the volume I need. I then sew fabric around all of it, add some Sculpey painted armor and I’m done.

HKfeet4

Tomorrow I build some hands…

Building A Better Hedge Knight: Part 1

I created my last stop-motion puppet with an armature of pencils and tape and while it was somewhat successful, it now seems to be pretty brittle. I really wanted to refine some of those ideas… so I built another one. Using a modeling compound called Super Sculpey I sculpted the top part of the head on an aluminum wire and the bottom jaw on another. Hypothetically I can then move the mouth around a bit and make this guy talk on camera.

Sculpey is a really great product that I have used for years. It has a great feel as you model it into shape and then you just toss it into your household oven for about 30 minutes and it comes out rock hard. It can then be painted with acrylic paint.

HKhead

This time around I wanted to build a sturdier armature, so I bought a medium sized wooden dowel rod, cut it to the correct sizes and drilled holes into the end of each piece. I insert a fairly thick piece of aluminum wire into the holes to connect the dowels together and create a moveable frame. I cover all the aluminum wire joints with hot glue, which will accomplish several things. It will keep the wire from eventually breaking from heavy use, makes the wire joints a bit more rigid and permanently connects the wires and the wooden dowel together.

HK1

This guy is big, so in order to keep the weight down I cut up chunks of foam to create the body mass. I also add some really soft foam to the knee and elbow joints.

HK2

Finally I wrap the arms and legs with some scrap material (old socks) and then sew some more scrap material (a really fine green sweater I rocked during the 90’s) over the entire thing to keep all that other stuff in place. This gives me a solid base to start creating on.

HK3

Tomorrow we build some feet…

Almost Too Fabulous For Words

The National Tackle Football League starts this Wednesday night and being the procrastinators we Jones’s are, the draft for the Annual Jones Family Fantasy Football League will be held on Tuesday, the night before. This season is even more exciting as the winner gets this fabulous, hand crafted with goodness, AWFFL Trophy! The victor can proudly proclaim all year long that yes, I am indeed a winner… and yes, the football on the trophy does have golden feet.

A Day In The Life

A job came in on Friday, I opened it on Monday and it was 50 spot illustrations due in one week. Fifty of anything takes forever, so I got busy, and then the phone rang. It’s the music leader at my church. The bass player that was supposed to play this Sunday is out because of an emergency, can I fill in for him this Sunday? I said sure…

Now I have 50 spot illustrations AND five new songs to learn before Sunday. I download the church songs and try to drag them into iTunes, but I accidentally drag them into Photoshop instead. I figure Photoshop will not open mp3’s but much to my surprise the mp3’s open and I see something I have never seen in Photoshop before… some sort of a video editing interface.

I know I have 50 illustrations due in a week and 5 songs to learn by Sunday, but I drop everything, grab a stop motion puppet I’ve been working on, shoot some really bad footage with my iPhone and start playing with the Photoshop video editor because having the ability to edit video in a program that I actually know how to work is pretty darn awesome.

I don’t know if I will be able to make the 50 spot illustration deadline or if  I will torpedo the band on Sunday because I don’t know how to play the songs, but at least I figured out how to make a crummy little video in Photoshop this week!

It’s Alive… And Eating Popcorn!

Jones brothers, sisters, inlaws, outlaws, nieces, nephews, kids and miscellaneous others traveled from all over the country to my Mother’s house last week for the 4th of July. With over 30 people in Mom’s house a bunch of us had to find other places to sleep when evening rolled around. As my family was leaving for the hotel the first night, my nephew Kyle said, “Hey Uncle Dennis, can I play around with that puppet of yours tonight?” I said sure and left it with him. When I showed up the next morning he had created this test clip with his MacBook. I love the way my goofy little sock puppet snaps to life in it. I think it’s fabulous!

The Mighty Ducks

Back when I was building my foam stop-motion puppet, I wondered if there might be another way to create a moving character. I decided to throw a couple of things together that I’ve toyed around with for years… an aluminum armature and socks. I haven’t named him yet and don’t really know what he is, but he looks kinda like a duck…