27 July 2011

First Report: Wizarding Event

Still photo of me in my Portrait Wizard Character role.
(The 15-minute looped video ran continuously through the day.)

This past Saturday saw the successful production of the Wizarding Event.  Up to an hour before the arrival of the "New Students" the cast and crew were still hurrying about, setting up the classroom sets, the Great Dining Hall, and making sure the electronics for the three moving portraits (one for a live actor) were working.

At the last moment I was asked to fill in for the lunchtime postal carrier, so in addition to arriving for the end-of-day party in my character as the editor of the newspaper the students monthly over the last 5 months (and which I'd mostly authored), I invented a Pony Express Carrier persona. An observant student would have noticed that a single actor was playing three roles (including the portrait wizard above).  But to my amazement, they never realized! It was very hard not to break character and laugh the third time I showed up. 

In my Editor role, with my brother Architect as the Headmaster.

Dear Readers, I am not a person easily missed.  I am several inches over 6 feet tall!  Yet via the wonders of 3 different wigs in 3 different colors; 2 different styles of glasses; 3 very different costumes; 3 different sets of body language and, in the case of the Pony Express and Editor personas, 2 very different speech cadences and accents, no one appeared to be the wiser.

I wasn't present for the main portion of the event, so I will need to post pics of the classes and other activities later when I get them from our photographers (who played reporters for the local wizarding newspaper!).  But here are some that I shot before and during the final party.

One major set was the combined store and post office.  Here is the schematic I made during the collaborative design phase.

Architect created the Trolley using a 1970s-era neonatal mobile intensive care isolette (a self-contained incubator unit) as its base.  A table already present in the hallway of the venue building served as the Owl Post Office.  A CD cabinet provided the P.O.'s "cubbies" and served as the sale area for the sheets of postage stamps, aerograms, brochures, and freebie stamp boxes.  The postcard cabinet made from a rummage sale recipes box/shelf held a display of 7 different postcards designed for the event. 

The Owl Post Typewriter, which we'd thought would work sitting on the Trolley's pull-out counter, wound up on the table - making it more accessible for the mostly small-sized students.  And the chalkboard was hung on a conveniently present nail, opposite from the planned location. (We were not allowed to pound in nails to hang things, which proved to be a bit of a challenge.)

Post Office side of the set.

Trolley Cart/Store set located next to the Owl Post Office
(with the P.O. mail dropbox on a slide-out counter). 

The Trolley proved to be a major attraction for the kids.  Though a little difficult to see in the above pic, there were numerous large jars of candy, school pennants, glow-bracelets, bags of hard candy, and other knick-knacks. A big hit were the chocolate frogs made for us by a local chocolate maker. (We thanked her by including her - in costume - as one of the wizards on the the "trading cards" that came with the frogs. Below, as an example, is the card for my Portrait Wizard Character.)

Students were required to bring $10 - which we converted into the wizardly currency of the day (actually a combination of oddly sized foreign coins). 

Receipts were provided for each purchase using an old,
hand-operated machine with receipts designed with Photoshop.

Trolley Cart/Store (and very eager students!)

Another key set was the Headmaster's Office.  The building venue was an early 20th-century Craftsman-Style mansion very kindly donated for the day's event.  A study-like room off the original living room was decorated to reflect the Headmaster's eclectic interests. 

It even had a fireplace!  But to keep students from playfully trying to use the "Floo Network" described in Rowling's books, a whimsical Out-of-Order sign was posted (and on all the fireplaces on the two floors we were using).

Here are a few miscellaneous images I was able to catch later in the day.

One of the outside classrooms.

The "Grand Dining Hall" with its House Banners and large floral centerpiece.

The Headmaster instructing one of the students on the use of the "spell crystal" and tuning fork she'd received in her Owl Post package.

The Headmaster describing an imminent class field trip to Egypt via the PortKey created by students earlier (in a class taught by a local art welder).

As I receive more pics from our media crew, I will post them here.  In the meantime, In the coming few weeks I will also report on the props and postal items I created for the day.

12 July 2011

One Cap, Two Cap, Gold Cap, Blue Cap

A couple of posts ago I reported on the fancy gold cap I was working on for a character in this Summer's Wizarding Event.* It turned out nicely, but was too small for the actor. So I trucked out to the local Goodwill stores to find some 'new' old drapery fabric to try again.  Other than an old blue dress which I could use as the lining fabric for one of the caps, I didn't have much luck. Fortunately, a local fabric shop was having their big summer sale and I was able to get some rather fancy stuff for the new gold cap as well as the "informal day cap" the character will be wearing when indoors.

Gold fabric pieces, braided piping, tassel, and pattern.

Blue fabric pieces (including checked lining), piping,
and faux eagle feathers for accent.

Before tackling the new versions, though, I redrew the pattern by tracing the commerical one and then altering the shapes a bit according to the feedback I got from the actor when he'd tried on the first version. 

And I made a test version of it using stuff I'd scrounged from the house rag basket and my stash of small fabric pieces (from earlier projects - too large to toss out).  I found a piece of a green cotton bedspread that was similar to the gold stuff in how soft and drapey it was; and a piece of upholstery material that was a little more stiff for the brim tryout.  The result was pretty fine, though I over compenstated and made it too large this time!

A Skype call with the actor came next.  My head is close to his size, so I modeled the cap and we talked about its shape and fit.  He like the beret-like floppiness and asked if the u-shaped opening in the front could be narrowed just a bit.  And as a nice outcome, we now have another hat for someone else to wear on the day!

I was nervous, though, when I began work on the final caps.  I have a kind of visual glitch, visual dyslexia I call it, where I find it very difficult to see how pattern shapes go together.  I know what is supposed to happen, but somehow I cannot translate that knowing to my hands when I do the actual work!

So I worked slowly - and fortunately had only one askew-error: I put the band on backwards so that the more shiny, and softer lining fabric is showing instead of the more elegant, slubby-textured upholstery gold.  The lining material is a little brighter, though, and actually looks ok.  Then I found a vintage, dark gold, metal button in my stash and used it to attach the tassel.

The final cap was all in blues to complement the blue, seersucker frockcoat that the actor is planning to sew himself for a sort of a Mark Twain-ish summer casual look. 

The cap fabric is elegant, given the status of his role as Headmaster, but a bit artsy as well.  The material was a little less stretchy than the gold stuff, though, which I didn't quite grok as I was working, so this cap will need to be worn a little higher on his head.

*  The Summer Wizarding Event is scheduled for late July.

08 July 2011

Silly Fun Dressing Up

Back in May, I posted about the 'portrait videos' I was hoping to do for the Summer Wizarding Event. Grand plans then for three different scenarios.  As it turned out, only one character came to be; the one I thought of as The Lady Cartographer - inspired by Vermeer's two paintings (above).

Most of the fun of it was creating the set and costumes. 

The "set" was the south wall of our dining room.  Our flat is in a 1914 building and the dining room has some very nice oak cabinetry.  I dressed the scene with a fancy globe I'd received as a graduation gift from my brother, The Captain; a second fanciful globe of a fictional planet made for me by my siblings Architect, Artist, and Woodcrafter; a piece of curtain fabric printed with the image of bookshelves; some of my own, older books; and miscellaneous knick-knacks with odd and unusual looks.

The costume was an assemblage of new and old: a long, red artist's coat, enhanced by safety-pinning wide lace window valences down the front; a $20 'Renaissance Lady' wig I found online; an 'underdress' of gold-shot black velour - a Goodwill find - the cuffs of which I safety-pinned some lace edging to; an antique, crocheted caplet that had been made by one of my husband's great grandmothers; and a bunch of rings from my own, mostly costume, jewelry collection.

I wound up shooting 5 different 3.5 minute scenes: Learning a New Spell, Taking a Nap, Writing a Letter, Learning a New Tune (using my quirky-odd-shaped travel guitar), and Studying a Globe.  Brother Architect was by for dinner last night and I showed him the results.  He thought them quite fine for the event. Hooray!  I can hardly wait to see them in action.

The Lady Cartographer

04 July 2011

Urban Farming: Week 7 Update

Dear Diary,

A couple of weeks of hot sun  have been most encouraging.  I've had to water the garden regularly for the first time this summer (not complaining, just a change in routine after all the rain we had a few weeks ago).  This morning I found the burnt remains of firecrackers and bottle rockets on the paths among the plots, no doubt leftovers from the holiday doings last night. 

Looks like the cauliflower seeds weren't good as nothing but some self-satisfied weeds have come up in those three squares.  The bush beans are looking all proud and flamboyant, but there is nary a bean-to-be-seen!  The sunflowers grow at least 3 inches a day, I swear, a neck and neck race with the zuchinni who are similarly expanding. 

Guess what, Diary dear?  I thought I planted a 3rd kind of beans over at the end with the pole beans . . . but I am pretty sure what's coming up are beets not beans!  I planted those squares at the very end of a toasty couple of hours, which may explain the confusion.

Have harvested only a couple of lettuce leaves so far, and those were just to test for flavor.  They are still pretty tiny.

Till next time, dear Diary.  Happy 4th and all . . .

Previous Garden Posts:
Week 5
Week 3
Week 1

03 July 2011

Drapery to Hat

All of the characters at our Summer Wizarding Event will be wearing odd hats or headgear of some kind.  I offered to make a few.  So off to Goodwill (various locations in this town!) I went; to rustle through the bins marked household and the racks of old curtains, table cloths, and miscellaneous upholstery pieces.

When I got home with my little trove of discoveries, I draped the material around a sofa cushion to get ideas for the hat designs I might create.  The above valence and sham cover came together nicely. The finished hat did too (though it wound up too small for the intended character . . . sigh!  Another person will wear it instead.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...