Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Every Witch Way Lane - Dark Fairy Tale Villians Challenge DONE

Well, its been a long month, dearies. As most of you know from my incessant whining, I have a day job that keeps me fully occupied all day, and leaves me fairly exhausted at night. By the time I am done with chores (Yes, I have chores. Don't we all? What we SHOULD have is minions! LOTS AND LOTS OF MINIONS! But, alas, I only have chores, no minions. Maybe one day I will have minions. But not today.) it is usually time for bed, which seems to come earlier and earlier these days. I don't mind getting older - I love being a grandmother, I love that warm blanket of security that my home and marriage has wrapped me in after all these years - I just wish I had more time to enjoy it all. Soon enough, I'm sure. But for now, I have to carve out time as I can, and this challenge was a time management challenge in itself. The challenge called for a full scale diorama which to me meant we were to create a full blown scene from a fairy tale, literature or folklore that depicted our chosen villain  in all it's evil glory. My first choice would have been the witch from Hansel and Gretel. The second I heard the call of the challenge, I had it all dancing in my head - the cottage with all its lovely, delicious details - the witch, and the poor lost lambs that had no clue they were destined for the stew pot should they dare to dally at the cottage. I would partition the cottage so the diorama could spin and you could view the front of the cottage in all its false beauty and then turn it to the back where the kitchen would reveal the horror inside. But - that was not meant to be. Another had already snagged this coveted fairy tale and all I could do was sit, sulk and whine about my tardy nature and the price I pay for not paying attention. But, I wanted to participate, no I HAD to participate. What to do? Who could I envision clearly enough in my candy cottage clogged brain to bring to full completion? Wait! What was that?? The faint crystal sound of fairy bells?? SHHH!! There it is again!!! A whisper in my ear!! "Silly ass!! HOOK!! Never was a more corrupt and evil villain than he!!" And I had it. Hook it was and Hook it shall be! Here then, dearies, is the evolution of a challenge. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I did!

First - the inspiration board. I wanted to cull together pictures that came from many sources - Peter Pan has been the subject of many, many stage productions and several films so there was no lack of material. I shied away from the Disney version only because that one is so very iconic - I wanted to form my own interpretation rather than just replicating a known design. The fact that he ended up looking VERY much like the Disney version just goes to show how deeply ingrained that iconic image is, apparently.

Once I had my board setup, it was time to gather materials and get started. The scene I was recreating was this:

Thus defenceless Hook found him. He stood silent at the foot of the tree looking across the chamber at his enemy. Did no feeling of compassion disturb his sombre breast? The man was not wholly evil; he loved flowers (I have been told) and sweet music (he was himself no mean performer on the harpsichord); and, let it be frankly admitted, the idyllic nature of the scene stirred him profoundly. Mastered by his better self he would have returned reluctantly up the tree, but for one thing.
What stayed him was Peter's impertinent appearance as he slept. The open mouth, the drooping arm, the arched knee: they were such a personification of cockiness as, taken together, will never again, one may hope, be presented to eyes so sensitive to their offensiveness. They steeled Hook's heart. If his rage had broken him into a hundred pieces every one of them would have disregarded the incident, and leapt at the sleeper.
Though a light from the one lamp shone dimly on the bed, Hook stood in darkness himself, and at the first stealthy step forward he discovered an obstacle, the door of Slightly's tree. It did not entirely fill the aperture, and he had been looking over it. Feeling for the catch, he found to his fury that it was low down, beyond his reach. To his disordered brain it seemed then that the irritating quality in Peter's face and figure visibly increased, and he rattled the door and flung himself against it. Was his enemy to escape him after all?But what was that? The red in his eye had caught sight of Peter's medicine standing on a ledge within easy reach. He fathomed what it was straightaway, and immediately knew that the sleeper was in his power. Lest he should be taken alive, Hook always carried about his person a dreadful drug, blended by himself of all the death- dealing rings that had come into his possession. These he had boiled down into a yellow liquid quite unknown to science, which was probably the most virulent poison in existence.Five drops of this he now added to Peter's cup. His hand shook, but it was in exultation rather than in shame. As he did it he avoided glancing at the sleeper, but not lest pity should unnerve him; merely to avoid spilling. Then one long gloating look he cast upon his victim, and turning, wormed his way with difficulty up the tree.
 "Peter Pan - James Barrie"

I knew I wanted to create the tree trunk as the diorama - what I could not wrap my head around was the way Hook was described as being unable to "get in" - I just could not fathom that, so I just had him sneaking in while Peter was asleep and poisoning him. Never mind that if Hook HAD been able to sneak in, he would have probably just stabbed the poor sleeping boy in his bed, but that's just a detail I chose to ignore. Artistic license and all that. First, the trunk.

Now for texture. I found a lovely tutorial on YouTube that detailed the making of gnome home tree trunks from coffee cans covered with tissue soaked with glue and water. I used paper towels.

Now on to the figures. I have said this before, I will say it again. If I get a good wire armature, I feel that is most of the battle. I decided to do the figures in polymer clay. I love paper clay but characters with this much...character demanded the detail and control that I find polymer clay gives me. At first I was going to do Smee, Hook and Peter, but ended up doing Hook and Peter. Smee just did not fit well in the scene, up top. It made the piece clunky and unbalanced, so poor pathetic Smee was set adrift never to be seen again.

Fast forward a bit and Pan is about done. I chose to do his costuming in polymer clay. His hair is mohair, and he is painted with Genesis heat set paints. The tree trunk has dried nicely and has been painted and stained and sealed inside with a flat acrylic sealer and outside with high gloss Triple Thick. A polymer clay tree has been glued inside to hold the polymer clay lantern that glows in the dark.
Reindeer moss and polymer clay mushrooms have been added, as well as a bit of "Lava Rock" which is a black paste-like substance that is used to create terrain - I bought it from a train model shop and it makes wonderful rock like terrain when dry.  Hook has hair which was made from mohair that had been cut in small hanks, wet and wound round a chop stick and brushed with just a bit of the watered down glue solution, and allowed to dry, a hand and the beginnings of a costume. This is where the challenge gets difficult. Costuming has always been my weak point, but a challenge is meant to be just that, so raise the sails and into the wind!! He has his horrid flask in hand with its little drop of poison - I created this by taking a string and allowing hot glue to drip from it, timing it so it would dry into that drop shape before falling off. Then I dipped the other end of the string in hot glue and poked it into the flask and there you have it. Noxious instrument of death done.

I ended up cutting a pattern from tracing paper as best I could, and opted to use felt for Hook's costume. I felt I would have better control with felt. (arn't I punny?? LOL!) and since I have been working on those Bucilla felt stocking kits all year, I was very comfortable with it, so felt it was. I had lovely gold metallic thread to use for embroidery and some crocodile skin textured felt to make boots out of. I had to channel my inner mad-hatter to create his hat - first I made a small skull cap of paper clay that fit his head. It looked very much like a bicycle helmet that the professional racers wear. I then cut the crown wide and used the same glue-water solution I used on the tree to soak the felt and bend it into the shape I wanted. Once it dried, it left me with a VERY respectable hat indeed! I added a feather and adorned it with sequins with black beads that showed up very nicely without showing a bit of the thread. I was very very pleased with myself over this - crowed about it like Peter himself.

Here is the finished Hook. At this point I also have a bed for Peter, created out of paper clay with a real acorn adorning the head board, a cross stitched mattress beneath the covers and a pillow. A small table was created out of a disk of wood with paper clay legs, and Peter's medicine cup is crafted from an acorn cap with a paper clay base. A paper clay spoon sits by the cup, the better for Mother Wendy to spoon out the medicine to her lost boys with, and to Peter in particular. It is this cup that Hook poisons, and that Tinkerbell will snatch away from Peter at the last moment to drink herself and thus save the poor boy's life in exchange for her own. Tell me, dearies - do you believe in fairies? Do you???

 And so we come to the end of this challenge. Here are the final pictures of the completed project - I am quite happy with the my entry, which has been turned in to the tender mercy of the judges over at Every Witch Way Lane. Once the final tally is in, I will update this post with the results of the judging. Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed the progress pictures!

Oh, the cleverness of me!” 
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

UPDATE: I am sorry to say that my Hook project did not win, place OR show at the judging. Im not sure why as some of the scores made no sense at all, but hey, we can't win them all, right? The important thing is I had a LOT of fun making this, I used new techniques and I ended up with a very nice display piece that I am super proud of. I will just have to push myself harder on the next challenge, right? Right!


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  2. All of it extraordinary!!!! I"m sure Smee will rise again, as another project for another day. ;)