My first contract in TV entertainment was in the 'props and sets' dept
for the fifth and final season of the popular childrens animated series.
Having been a fan of stop-frame animation all my life (mainly thanks to
the work of Ray Harryhausen), my enthusiasm levels were high during my
tour of duty. This unsettled some of my co-workers, who after five seasons
were understandably a little jaded and blaze.
THIS LINK TO SEE A TRAILER FOR THE SHOW
Three of my four months at Cosgrove Hall were spent re-building Toad Hall. The old one hade been taken apart (some pieces lost, a lot damaged) and I had to rebuild around a slightly larger steel frame than before, filling in the gaps and making good with the paint job afterwards. I was actually stopped filling in some of the finer gaps and told there was no need to be so neat... Toad Hall was an old twisted building and, if anything, I should be building gaps into it! I also constructed a completely new floor, made of more interlocking pieces than before, to allow the animators greater access to the puppets. Then replacing all the sheilds and hung pictures in the correct positions before ageing the walls, leaving a convincing 'tidemark', should a picture ever need to be taken down during filming.
Slice of peat anyone?
To raise the ceiling of an existing polystyrene tunnel by about 18 inches, so that Badger could stand up in it. Sliced lengthways, an 18 inch slab of 'poly' was glued in and then shaped to blend in with the old tunnel walls. A mixture of PVA and Peat reproduced the technique originally used to texture and colour the tunnel. Can you see the joins??
Just one of the many pieces of animatable food I made for the banquet sequence, a cooked chicken, a lobster (seen in another episode) a roll of brisket and a knawed chicken carcass were a lot of fun to make.
As an EX butcher, I needed no reference for this plasticine prop, now vegetarian, I wasn't that keen on doing this, so decided to give the pig a slightly sad expression and plant my subliminal seed. The skin is latex with acrylic paint mixed in.... as are the ears, giving them a translucent quality - just like the real thing!
Chicken wire and two part instant Eurathane foam (in a can - the kind of stuff they use to fill blank spaces in life-boats to prevent them from sinking) formed the basis of this tree. Then latex was mixed with a powdery substance called Caversil, this thickens the latex to the point where you can almost sculpt with it and make large knots in the bark for example.
Back to my roots
Wire and latex and plumbers hemp fleshed out these riverside growths. Finished with a smoothing coat of latex, then plumbers hemp for the mossy bits.
My little mushroom
A section of the riverside I was resposible for dressing, you can see my tree and my roots dangling in the water. I'm quite proud of my little mushroom (thats something I never thought I'd hear myself say) can you spot it growing on the root?? At the time I thought it was a nice touch. Now I know better.... mushrooms only grow on dead wood don't they??
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