Sunday, March 11, 2012


Thanks so much for all the kind comments on the last post, it really does help.

Now though I'll move on to something more cheerful, as, by and large, cheerful is what we are. I've been maquetting.  This is in response for a 'call for maquettes' at Clive Hicks-Jenkins Artlog.  Clive inspires.  He inspires creative activity, but above all, he inspires enormous amounts of love, affection and admiration from many, many people (to say nothing of other creatures).  There's really too much to say about the wonderful things that can be seen at the Artlog, which is just one window on to a life which simply overflows with the making and doing of beautiful things, which, marvels further abounding, he finds time to post about the process of much of it, using high quality, high res photos and lovely bright, clear descriptions, the energy and generosity of which never ceases to amaze. I can't urge visiting too strongly, it's a glowing, joyous place.

Clive makes maquettes, paper models, usually jointed with those paper fastener things that look like little nails which you push through the paper then divide and bend back, which he uses to set up and adjust the composition of his paintings.  However, the maquettes are also objects of beauty and fascination in themselves, and others have been taking up the idea and making maquettes of their own, notably Zoe with her quirky, seductive tango dancers and blue cats.  

So, unworthiness to fasten shoe-latchets notwithstanding, I thought I'd have a play, not with a view to developing paintings or anything, just for the amusement of making them.  First though, find your paper fasteners.  Looking in on an art shop for something else, I thought to ask for them, but didn't know what they were called in French, so I had to give a rough translation of the same description as in the paragraph above.  After a few moments of puzzled frowning:

'Ah' said the assistant 'attaches parisiennes!' 

And owing to the, to me, inexplicable craze for le scrapbooking, which along with rubber stamps, seems to be what keep the few remaining art shops open, the shop stocked not only the traditional chunky brass and stainless variety, but also an array of exquisite, tiny multicoloured ones of different shapes and weights.  Seduced by their kaleidoscopic prettiness, I bought far more than I needed.

It seems they are sometimes also called brads, I don't know if this is an Americanism,  

but to use brads, you need some kind of bradawl.  I'd never thought about that word before.  This isn't a purpose-made one though, it's a winkle pin.

I've always rather liked the story of The Musicians of Bremen, the way the animals cheat the humans and get to live long in amity together, so thought I might try some maquettes of them.  So I decided to start with the donkey and found a picture of a one on-line, 

then found another use for the Kindle.  You can send yourself JPEG files, but they only open as small, low contrast grey-scale things, but that's quite good just to use as a drawing aid, without too much distracting information.

After the initial drawing, I made a tracing of it, overlapping on the areas to be jointed. It reminded me of making sewing patterns when I was younger.

As well to trace it larger than you finally want it to leave room for trimming and adjustment.  Then I transferred it to heavy cartridge paper, and played about to position the joints.

Then I de-constructed the donkey,

found a set of unused gouache paints, 

and painted him.

It's annoyingly cute; as ever shades of the primary school begin to close on stuff I make and do.  But the exercise was interesting and absorbing, and it is a first attempt.  Dog, cat and cockerel still to be done.


Zhoen said...

Just cute. Endearing.

marja-leena said...

Oh, well done, Lucy! Love your writing as always, and it's great to see you artistic efforts as well.

zephyr said...

Why the self-criticism? You've done a marvelous job. He's certainly not "too cute".

Dale said...

I think it's wonderful. I love the musicians of Bremen too: a grand choice!

earlybird said...

I think it's brilliant! It looks like a donkey. So he's 'cute' - tant pis.

Love those clips.

I couldn't agree more about le scrapbooking - what on earth is it all about? A mystery. And why on earth would you take lessons in how to do it? Another mystery.

Jean said...

Wow, this is delightful and hugely impressive for a first attempt, and very inspiring! Quite an understanding of and ability to draw anatomy required, and obviously you have that from recent and previous life drawing lessons/practice. And isn't it great that Clive is inspiring other creative people to try your hands at making these - about as low-tech and hands-on as it's possible to get, but all mediated online. Wonderful!

What about a Mol maquette? Not easy, I'm sure, with all that hair, but it would be adorable.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

Ha ha! Oh well DONE, Lucy! I'm so pleased that you've given this a go, and that moreover you've achieved such a fantastic result. Absolutely nailed the technique first time. You'll be getting yourself an animation programme before we know it. I'm smiling from ear to ear. You've really made my day.

Dave said...

This looks like so much fun. I'm sure the finished troupe will be exemplary. I just hope y'all make some stop-motion videos of your finished maquettes...

rr said...

Eeee awesome!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful little donkey! :)

zoe said...

he's wonderful! lots of character, this one :D
can't wait to see the others!

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

rr, maybe you should join in and give it a go yourself!


marly youmans said...

Adorable, Lucy--

Clive has been inspiring in my life, and I'm not a bit surprised that maquettes are popping up all over!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Fantastique Lucy! Your donkey is not only cute but essentially donkeyish and characterful, ready to live a life.

And the pictures of multicoloured "attaches parisiennes" are beautiful.

Clive's Artlog inspires me too; he is indeed generous in sharing his creativity.

You are on my blogroll and I am a fan. Come visit my cyber-home when you have time. A bientôt!

Leonard Greco said...

I have found the same brads here in the States, we also call them fasteners. All a bit confusing, Scrapbooking folks seem to have created their own universe with infinite little products and doo-hickies. Very interesting and a bit intimidating. I also bought a few too many, including some particularly garish brads of faux jewels-dazzling. As per special tools I only seem to need my fingers and reading glasses.
Your donkey is quite cute because donkeys are quite cute, kudos to a job well done. I too have heeded Clive's suggestion, I am in the throes of my own maquette mania.

yew tree nights said...

I think your donkey is lovely. I am thrilled that you are making maquettes of The Musicians of Bremen; I love that story! Also, thank you for showing the steps you took to bring your maquette to life... seeing that all laid out is helpful.
Your discovery of "attaches parisienne" reminds me a little of moving to France only to find that boring old white mushrooms were really "champignons de paris"! ;)

Oh and hello!

Lucy said...

Thanks people, and what lovely surprise commenters, welcome, and thanks Clive for the link! I promise to get round to all your blogs for maquettes and other pleasures, but today it's been glorious spring weather and the outside has been calling.

Donkeys are of course cute, especially when they are shaggy, which it's likely that a donkey from northern climes such as Germany would be. But I rather wish I could get a slightly more odd and otherworldly, less cuddly look to the creatures, as in other representations, like the statue in the town itself, and Mervyn Peake's illustrations to Grimm. Actually I rather like the somewhat skeletal, attenuated look of the deconstructed donkey, wonder if I could stretch and pull him out a bit... Perhaps now I've got my hand in a bit I'll experiment some more, but I think I'll move on to some of the other animals next.

Scrapbooking - mm. My sister posited the idea that it's a reaction to everything computerised and digital and virtual, people doing something very concrete and handicrafty, and I suppose as such one shouldn't knock it. I was rather amused to see a flyer for courses in it, entitled 'Osez le scrapbooking' - 'Dare to do scrapbooking', which I thought a trifle grandiose. Some of the products of it I've seen are quite bizarre... A friend round here (who used to be into rubber stamps but she's obviously moved on to the hard stuff) does it, and sends us amazing fussily layered Christmas cards, but she's also made a rather fab collage for her kitchen wall using sardine tins and decoupaged postcard and stuff of chillis and sardines, using scrapbooking principlesd, and says she'll make me one.

Jean - Mol doesn't in fact have too much hair now, following her rather drastic spring haircut, and looks a little like a rather wavy-coated, big-eared, very miniature black labrador! I thought I might use her as a model for the dog...

Clive re RR - good idea, I picture Maisy and Mario maquettes...

Leonard - hi, I found these little brads were a bit to small and soft to push through paper alone. Chloe, above, even used a small hole punch for her horses, and found the increased fluidity of movement it gave interesting. Perhaps the scrapbooking world is worth plundering for other tools and materials. Thanks for visiting!

YourFireAnt said...

What are those things called in English? Brads (to us) are tiny nails, so that isn'tit.

Anyway, it's given me a few good ideas.


Lucy said...

Hi T!

So is a little hole that you make for a little nail (with a bradawl...) a brad pit? :~)

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

Fireant, according to the packaging of my admittedly old stock, they used to be called 'paper fasteners'. However, as the new paper-craft craze started in the US, I've noticed that many of the products originate there and so come with the American terminology.

Lucy, I used tiny 'brads' sent to me from the States by my friend Anita, and I've found that they work well on thin card better than paper. I use the tip if my scalpel... very gently so as not to puncture myself... to make the holes. Chloe's use of a punch sounds good. Might have to give that a go. I can see how it would make the pivoting smoother.

Leonard Greco said...

As per scrapbooking, it can be overly fussy, but the need to create seems so universal- I just wish more of the results were more attractive and less commodified.
As per attaching the little buggers, I use a small awl, but any pointy object should work, I push the implement through the paper/board onto a rubber eraser-otherwise I have bloody fingers which is a bit of a mess. But considering my Mesoamerican theme might just be the perfect touch.
Take care,

Sheila said...

They were always called brads when I was in elementary school and using them for various projects.

For what it's worth.