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MAKING MOUSELAND

Characters

The mice are pieced together from gray wool felt.  They have pipe cleaner skeletons, so they are posable, and their eyes are black glass beads.  

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Other creatures are made out of a variety of materials.  These tadpoles are made of artificial grapes, covered with foam packaging wrap.

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I prefer to use found and recycled materials when I can, and avoid craft stores.  My studio is full of miscellaneous stuff and I tend to walk with my nose to the ground, hunting for interesting litter and natural objects.   I am very fortunate that Portland has a SCRAP outlet, which sells all sorts of donated salvage.  

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Easter egg dyes on silk gave me the palette

I was after for my ballroom scenes.

I draft patterns for their clothing, which is stitched and glued.
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Dr Slick's razor scissors,

 made for fly tying.

Clothes

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Frog loafers
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Rat dainties...I used a stiffening agent to give them weight and gravity

Props

Prop making is one of my favorite parts of creating Mouseland.  

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Sets

Sets are usually built on a foundation of rigid building insulation. 

Old towels make good grass!

The plasterwork in this ballroom  was created by making molds of thrift store decorations, and then casting multiples with low melt hot glue.  This is supplemented with painted upholstery trim.

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Buildings are made of cardboard or foamboard,

or discarded containers.

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I like to include led lights in my sets.  This lamp is made from a poppy pod and part of a jingle bell.

Ceramic insulator

Bottle stopper piece

Corrugated

cardboard

Foamboard

Plastic clamshell

 

Heinz tin

 

 

Wood trim

 

 

Egg carton strip

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I use a lot of razor blades.

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Behind the scenes wiring.

Photography

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When all the characters and sets are completed, it's time to shoot.  My brilliant niece,

Sally Foster, who is a union grip in NYC, flies out to Portland to wrangle the lighting. 

We rent lights and equipment at Gearhead in Portland.  I use a Canon 7D with EF60mm &100mm lenses.

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The cast and props,

ready for their close-ups.

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Book dummy pages serve as a storyboard.

Finally, I edit the images in Photoshop, using my Wacom tablet.  I adjust values and refine facial expressions, and clean up wayward whiskers.

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A finished page.  It takes me about a year to illustrate a picture book.