Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tinkerer Production - Update

Wow, been so busy with this set thing I haven't had much time to post anything! I've been spending more and more time out in Oakland at the space immersed in paint, cutting wood, playing with popsicle sticks, burning myself with hot glue, and having a good old time with fancy wallpaper.

The arches are up! And they're looking pretty sweet. From the beginning we've been talking about creating a series of arches with crisscrossing "metal" slats and "rivets". I started with some small scale tests to see if it would work.

Pre-paint, salvaged board.

Post-paint. For this I tried two different kinds of hammered spray

It looked like 1x4's for the structure, popcicle sticks for the crisscrosses, and furniture tacks for the rivets were the winning combo. Since there are seven arches, and each side of an arch required roughly 170 popcicle sticks, so we ordered approximately enough a bazillion.

Spenser and I in the cathedral

Hot gluing begins

I quickly realized that since the arches aren't actually curved, only bent at strategic intervals, I needed a way to fill in the gaps at each bend. Thinking quickly I raided the recycling bin and came up with the material that fixes everything: cardboard.

For some reason I couldn't stop thinking about cake all day.

The totals amounted to roughly: 1360 popsicle sticks and 1813 furniture tacks. I think I'm done with popsicles for awhile.

Then came some painting. Instead of using spray paint (which is evil because it slowly kills the cuteness in puppies every time you use it) the plan involved two coats. With the help of some loyal paint crew (thanks guys, you rock. oh by the way, there's more to paint now.) a dark primer was applied. Then after some light sanding on the flat surfaces came a nice thick glossy black.


Next came ceiling and walls. The ceiling is starting as just black, but hopefully I'll have time to make it more interesting with some stenciled flourishes. The walls, are designed to be removable to allow us to get our shots, as it is a rather small location. I decided to turn to my tried and true method of making walls look awesome, and that's wallpaper.

Bam! Insta-texture.

The paper will only cover the top five feet, leaving the bottom three to be dark wood wainscoting. More on that later.

Next came something pretty cool. Some of you may remember this old relic. It makes me very happy to see it get to live on: Quandary presents, the door of the Argos.

We had to open it up and do a little surgery to the locking mechanism inside due to some unfortunate overzealous opening action awhile back. The frame was added to the back wall, covered in plywood and wallpaper, and now just waits for the door to be installed.

Stay tuned. Haven't even got to the moving shelves yet!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I had so much fun sculpting the Mechanical Heart, I was itching to so some more. But this time I wanted to try something based on life. There's an apple tree right outside my window (in which the squirrels hold weekly battles) The apples aren't quite ripe, but there was a great big juicy green one that looked so delicious I decided to use it as my model.

I brought it into the shop, took some reference pictures, and started to get down to business.


As usual I started with a lump of spray foam, and carved it into the general shape. I'm finding this technique works quite well - it saves a lot on sculpting material, and magic sculpt is so hard when fully cured it remains strong enough to handle.

Apple, meet your future doppelganger.

With the base complete, it was time to cover it in the good stuff and let it cure. Then after some aggressive sanding I began painting!

Apple-y enough for ya?

Then a coat of gloss, and finally, the Pièce de résistance the stem, made from a leather shoelace. I think it all came together rather nicely, don't you?


... wait, you didn't really think I just made an apple did you? Course not. Here's the other side.




...a dash of paint...

...aaaand the final. No idea where this idea came from, it just seemed right. Like recycling. Always recycle. I'm feeling like this might be a series, just to give a fair warning.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tinkerer Production - Day 1

Yep, it's that time again. Time to make some movie magic. I've been enlisted to be production designer on a short film directed by the creative dynamo JP3&M (Justin and Martin). The story will be driven by its heavy and dynamic visual style, so a lot of work will be put into the physical set, props, and costumes. Right now it's being described as "depression era with a steam punk twist".

More will be revealed as work progresses. For now, here's a little taste of the set we're building in my doodle design form.

The main room will have a series of "curved metal" arches that will actually have a crisscross pattern (kinda like on a bridge). Thankfully I've got mastermind Dylan on my side, so we might actually use something called "math" to get this thing accurate.

The story mostly takes place in a mysterious repair shop run by an eccentric "fix-it" man. So picture lots of tools, broken appliances, moody lights, dark wood ect. Even though it is a reletivly small set, I'm probably going to be traveling like a nomad between every garage sale, antique store, thrift shop, and flea market for the next month and a half to get enough junk to fill this place.

The main room is the shop where the Tinkerer does his work and talks to customers:

Then in the back there is a very small living space, connected to the shop by a large vault-style door (salvaged from the Argos set)

The space we are building in is a live/work loft, so Spenser is going to have a repair shop in his living room for the next few months.

The first day of construction involved a lot of wood carrying and cutting...

Dylan can press a third of a do-decagon no problem

...a lot of recycled screws that needed chugging sorting...

Don't let their enthusiasm fool you. Only I lasted longer than the first five minutes.

... and the construction of the first arch.

Epic tallness!

Unfortunately there aren't any pictures of the event, but since the four epic 16 foot 2x4 boards didn't fit in the truck the directors volunteered to carry them back from home depot back to the space on foot.

Martin: "Why don't we just carry the four 16 foot 2x4s a mile"
Justin: "Sure Martin, doesn't sound that bad.

Long story short, they survived and we got our boards. Okay guys, now we need more 1x4's!

Work is going to happen fast over the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more shenanigans as the Tinkerer's shop comes to life, and my bedtime get pushed back later and later.

This is a pizza powered production

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mechanical Heart

So I've known about this material for awhile, and I've been itching to try it out. At WonderCon this year (first time going, fun nerd times all around) I got a chance to talk with some extremely talented sculptors, and they all had one thing in common. They used Magic Sculpt.

It's not the cheapest thing ever, but after using it, I see why the first choice for the fine artists at studios like Dreamworks and Pixar. This stuff is crazy awesome. To test this magical material, I decided to manifest one of the ideas I've had rolling around in my head ever since I made Wayne. A mechanical heart.

To begin, I started with a lump of expanding foam. This would allow me to get the basic shape, without wasting a whole bunch of expensive clay.

Always have a backup.

After letting it expand and dry overnight I busted out my french fishing knife (yes, it's actually from France, I'm so fancy) and roughed out the shape in the foam.

This is a pear!

Next I embedded some doodads into the foam. (This was actually a second attempt. On the first one I tried to attach components after the clay had hardened as an afterthought, and it proved to be difficult. This way worked much better.)

This is a pear on drugs!

Next it was time for the Magic Sculpt. The clay comes in two parts, a Resin and a Hardener, which after combined will harden in about three hours. And by harden, I mean it creates a substance that is equivalent to Iron man covered in diamonds. It pretty much refuses to break. What's also interesting is that it goes through various phases of plasticity as it hardens, which allows you to achieve finer detail as time goes by.

After the foam was completely covered and some of the details were etched into the now leathery clay, it was time to add some rivets and other gizmos.

After it was dry there was some minor sanding, a few dremel touch-ups, and finally a coat of metallic primer!

Ew... sticky.

Then it was time for the details, involving lots of paint and a tiny brush. Oh, and of course it needed a nifty display stand. Quite a fun project, definitely look forward to improving my sculpting technique and getting better detail because this stuff can certainly handle it.

And now, pretty pictures!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wooden Robot

September 5th, my nephew turned one! To celebrate his year on earth I decided to make him his first robot. Why not right? Every kid needs a trusty imaginary companion.

As always I started with some sketches. The cute factor needed to be pretty intense so I settled on a subtle happy-contented-amused-aww sort of face with exaggerated proportions to match.

The tricky part began when I realized I didn't have any properly sized carving wood. In the end I had to mix and match some scraps, then assemble them with wood glue and smooth the sides with a dremel. Then came a ridiculous amount of sanding until they were baby-safe smooth.

The arms and neck were made with a series of various sized dowels, 1" for the actual visible part and .5" for the small peg that would allow it to articulate. Drilling the holes into my nice smooth blocks caused some nail biting moments, but in the end (and after a lot more sanding) it all came together.

This little fellow seemed to be a hit. My nephew has since dubbed him "Jah-Jah". How's that for ridiculous cuteness?

Happy Jah-Jah is happy.