How Cool Is This?

My wife, my muse, my better half, recently took a job with a local cigar shop and has access to all of their throwaway wooden boxes, some really beautiful ones too, with cedar bits in them. Today she brought home this one for me.

Looks like I've got a place to keep all of my puppet parts now, replacement eyes and whatnot :) She'll probably be able to get more like it eventually, not sure how well these sell, but if anyone is interested let me know...its quite large (10"x7"x2") and it smells GREAT!


Bog Bodies: The Tollund Man

We all know about King Tut, and the Egyptian mummies....today I discovered the wonder of Bog Bodies, most notably that of the Tollund Man, found in a bog in Denmark in the '50s. It seems there is a strange conglomeration of peat moss acids, cold water, and sea salts which preserve bodies, tossed in thousands of years ago, mostly as sacrifices to the gods. I would like to visit one of these bogs, maybe picnic near it :) Reminds me of the Dead Marshes.
I love the look of this fella, sleeping peacefully. Check out the preservation of the hair and stubble on his chin. Amazing. It is theorized that he was strangled with the noose around his neck, not as a criminal, because of the way he is arranged, and the serene look of him, but as a worthy sacrifice to their god(s) which we know little about apparently. The website has a ton of information, everything from daily life to what his last meal was (oatmeal basically) to preservation of the body once removed from the bog (involving replacing the bog water in his cells with bee's wax).

Seems fitting in a strange way for my Jenny Greenteeth, bog witch.

Another "Anniversary".......

Watch the video
Bringing down the curtain on "Mike Brent Day"....Thanks Darkstrider for all the support, hope it was a fine day for you...


Go Forward

I had to take a minute here to show support for my hero, Christopher Reeve. His passing, and subsequently the death of his wife Dana, effected me profoundly. They were both truly inspiring in their dedication. Heres what their foundation has to say, in their own words...

"Mission: The Christopher Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy.
Background: The roots of CRF began in the early 1980's, when several small family foundations from around the country banded together to create the American Paralysis Association. These pioneers refused to accept the long-standing dogma that once damaged, the injured spinal cord could never be repaired.
Soon after his spinal cord injury in 1995, Christopher sought out the American Paralysis Association. Impressed and excited with the extraordinary research we were funding, Christopher made the decision to form an affiliation that eventually led to the merger and creation of the Christopher Reeve Foundation. His passion for research and belief in our methodology to develop treatments and cures was why he felt so compelled to join forces with us. Today, through CRF's persistence and promise, neuroscientists around the world agree that repairing the damaged spinal cord is not a question of if, but a question of when.
With the passing in 2004 of its Chairman and namesake, the Christopher Reeve Foundation (CRF) stands at an acute crossroads. We are charged with continuing his legacy and growing the momentum, which he so ardently created. We take on the responsibility of all those who have invested in us to succeed.
Christopher's life brought visibility to a condition which had often been invisible. It is his legacy and challenge to us all to keep up the pace of the work he championed."

So visit the site from the link below, order your tags, and wear them with pride, & hope.

Superman Tags


Why I Love Horror...

...or specifically Gothic/Romantic horror...

Today I watched, or rather listened to , Guillermo Del Toro's amazing audio commentary on the special edition DVD of El Espinazo Del Diablo (The Devil's Backbone). I absolutely love this movie, its one of those foreign language films that affects me in such a way as to inspire me to learn to speak the language, just to view it as the director intended, without those pesky distracting subtitles. I quickly became enthralled with his commentary, its one of the best I've heard. Mike I think you in particular would enjoy it, as he spends most of the time discussing Symbolism in art, literature, and film, particularly applying it to this film. He talks about how the genre came about, his theories on Gothic Horror being a sort of permutation or stepchild of classic fables and fairy tales. I felt like I was at a seminar, even grabbed a notebook to jot down quotes and ideas that stuck with me.

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out why it is that I am so inclined towards darkness, and horror, why I feel the burning desire to explore worlds that I would never want to visit in person (an echo of what Shelley has said about her disinterest in the genre). And here it is in a nutshell, paraphrased from Guillermo's ramblings...

"By being fascinated with, by being sort of in love with monsters, we are exercising, in the abstract, the most beautiful form of tolerance there is...the desire to understand 'the Other', as opposed to simply trying to destroy it..."


The Bait Series

Here's a group of photos I've come to know as the Bait Series...

Easy Treesy

And now onto the trees, here's a quick little How I Made Mine, my easy messy magic :) tree factory.... Wanted something simple for my woods, no foliage or branches, something majestic, that feels old and towering.

I start out with a 10 ft. length of 2" PVC pipe, which I lay out horizontally and brace to prevent rolling. Then I cut 3 ft. strips of wire form/mesh, about 3" wide, and lay the strips on top of the pipe, bending them as much as possible to fit the shape of the pipe. Don't have it grip too tight, might be hard to get off later.

Then I cut strips out of an old flannel, not too fuzzy. We have a few bags of old clothes by the door waiting to be taken to Goodwill, so I've been lucky lately when it comes to fabric. The flannel strips I make slightly larger than the mesh, about 4" wide, so that there is extra space for bunching up.

I make the trees about 3 ft. tall, so I can fit three at once on the 10ft PVC. I mix up a batch of plaster slightly thinner than it should normally be, then dunk a strip of the shirt into the mix. Get it good and wet, nice and messy, really let it soak up the plaster...then I lay it out on top of a strip of the mesh, on top of the PVC, and shape it in spots by bunching it up...

I pull them off of the pipe before they get completely stiff, set them aside and let them harden.

Then they get a coat of black paint, then a layer of white paint lightly dry-brushed, a technique using a dry brush with very little paint to sort of trace the top surface of your texture, pick up the highlights. Then I wire them to sturdy styrofoam bases, and that's that...

More detailed pics to come...

More Shop Pics...

Here's a few more Bait Shop pics that I didn't have time to upload in the previous post...



Today was a good day for the sets.

I dressed up the farkled cabin and made it a farkled bait shop.

Built some trees with my easy messy tree factory (more on that soon).

Made another "tree island"/mass of mossy land with one tree attached.

Made two separate free-standing trees.

The new trees remain unpainted, plaster still drying, so I'll post about the new 'island' and tree factory in a few days. For now let's talk about...

............the Bait Shop.............

The stone wall at the base of the shop is partly a latex skin from a clay mold of 'cobblestones' and partly paintjob (the latex covers the top parts, about 3 bricks down, the paintjob continues the pattern but fades out of view)...

...our old floppin' fishy friend is mounted over the door...

...theres hooks and nets and fishing poles, more details coming soon....

Framegrabby Goodness

Watch the video
OK, FINALLY started working with a framegrabber, don't mind the line through the vid, I am using a trial version of StopMoPro v4...very cool, it is everything its cracked up to be...only had time to do one quick walky test, but I definitely can see improvements on the horizon...the quality from my analog camcorder is not too shabby after all, with a little clean-up in Sony Vegas...


Zombie Parts

Watch the video
Going to do more tests, but heres what I've got so far...


Say Cheese...

Meet Two New Additions...

...to the Puppet Nursery...
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These two are for yet another film on my slate :P was going to be my June StopMoShorts entry but that is SO not going to happen, mostly because I had a dream the other night...Two visuals stuck with me on waking from the dream, images/scenes that I want to incorporate into the film which involve me rotating the set, etc., and will involve more work than I can complete in 3 weeks, and some re-thinking of script elements...so I'm thinking maybe a StopMoShorts Matinee feature?
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I really like these two, my wife says he looks like Conan O'Brien :) and she looks a bit like a mini-Jenny in the face...basic wire armatures, painted with latex, with some upholstry foam buildup in his chest belly & butt and her ribcage...sculpey heads and hands...he has replacement eyes right now, but they are so tiny as to be migraine-inducing, so I'm re-thinking that...may just give him permanent eyes and make some animatable eyebrows to do the expressions...going to redo his hands also...his pink sweater is bothersome from an aesthetic pov, the color just doesn't go well, but again I'm going black and white so I wasn't too concerned...and I SEWED...made his little pants....the shirt and jacket are action figure cast-offs, and her clothing is kind of just glued onto her in bits from an old shirt of my wife's...painted her to look like a skeleton under the clothing, went with a see-through material so that when the lighting is right you should be able to see some of her bones under there...all gross under there....all night of the living dead under there....sorry, Lydia flashback...hey, maybe that'll be her name :)
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This film in 15 words or less...man inherits house, finds strange painting, awakens zombie woman accidentally, and is taken into darkness...I actually stretched a mini-canvas last night, was a lot of fun...have some great ideas that should be very cool if they pan out....example...the landscape in the painting won't be painted until I complete the woodsy set (trees that I can re-use for Jenny) and film the woodsy set...then I can take a frame from the finished scene to paint the painting, so basically he stumbles onto the painting, then later happens upon this particular area of landscape in 'real life'...will be sort of chilling...this is all from a screenplay that I have been fiddling with on and off for the past two years or so, my ultimate indie horror movie...the stop-mo clip will probably end up being in my pitch material whenever I get to that (I'm talking years here, maybe a decade before I'm ready to go there)...
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Watch for a couple of test clips later tonight/tomorrow, where I try my hand at a zombie walk!

(for some reason Blogger is giving me pic-upload issues, so I have to continue to use photobucket for the time being, hopefully with smaller pics that won't fudge the template like the previous ones)


A Spot of Poetry

...ok folks, you want to talk poetry, lets go! I can hold my own ;) This is fairly old, nearly a decade, but remains one of my favorites....wrote it in my early angsty college days...

Lie awake in the dark here asleep,
Your cold body pressed against mine your nails in my back whispers of hair trail my skin like swans,
Lie awake thinking clear thoughts about all the secrets you keep,
Shadows that pool when tumbleweeds roll to announce future crimes,
Like bugles blown in synch,
In time.

Victorian rage like the Ripper.
Something tapped,
Raspberry stains on the wall silhouettes in red velvet cascade.
And all this time I lie here dreaming
Trying to assign some meaning
Violence here amongst the scheming.
I often find that I am scratching at the walls beneath the floors, scrawling tomes about myself in a language even I can't understand, my body torn in some sick performance art,
Me scratching,
Voyeurs viewing,
All glass cases and track lighting.

In a dream I see swingsets.
Straight line horizon.
Long poles hollow steel all rubber and chain like some buried machine.
You are swinging.
The chain squeaks as you arc back as our eyes meet I see myself through you.

I am a ringmaster.
I crack the whip with a smile.


Emaciated Vestiges of DanglyFloppers.....Take 2

....been another rough week, intended to have Jenny II finished by now, but, y'know.....there's life and bills and whatnot...what I wouldn't give to be independently wealthy....Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
...so here she is...recovering from her breast reduction surgery...I definitely like the less meaty look, works well for me now...also blended the left breast more with the shoulder area, so there is more of a flow there, feels less like the fleshy chest bits are just sort of thrown on there...
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...started texturing a bit too, the wire mesh-scales look nice, especially in the tummy area...did a little of the plastic wrap thing too but was less thrilled with that...will experiment more on my next go at her...
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...worked a bit on the upper-rear neck, and added the runic-celtic-veiny-seaweedy-flowy lines on her arms...at this point I can pretty safely say that she is done from the belly up (aside from last minute overall tweaking)...gotta do leg details, then hands and feet...not sure whether I should sculpt the webbing in now or add the webby bits after the finished puppet is cast...I think molding would be a lot easier if the webbing were not there, seems like it'd be easier to line up the armature in the mold at casting time...Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

...un-jenny-related sidenote....IMDB.com has finally added me to their listings, woo-hoo!! Check it out here...now you can all watch the listing grow and grow, and one day you'll be able to say "Ahhhh Jeffrey, I knew him when...." :D