America First lady

For the past 6 months, my husband Rob and I have been making a film starring characters in the Wee Folk Players theater troupe. We’re working in stop-motion animation, where you basically take a series of photos, moving figures and/or objects in between shots, in itsy-bitsy amounts. When the photos are played in sequence at 24 frames per second, it appears like fluid motion. This process has got to be one of the most time-consuming art forms out there. In some ways, it takes the same patience and attention to detail that embroidery work requires, with the added bonus of seeing your creations move!

I’ve wanted to breath life into my figures through animation for a long time, but felt unprepared to take on the task, especially the technical parts. Now, with Rob’s help, I am able to advance my art into a new realm. We are very happy with how it’s coming out and hope to have a 10 minute film some time next spring. It will be a wordless story exploring our current and very unique political environment. At the very end of this post, there’s a peek at our animation stage, with the scene we’re currently filming.

UPDATE: The 13 min. movie can be viewed and readily shared on YouTube here.

I can’t show you much yet, but HAD to share this latest member of the cast, who will have a cameo appearance alongside the leading man. Thread extensions were useful for her tri-colored hair and I had fun with her spiked heels.

After her shoes were sewn in place, she and her sole sister Barbi commiserated about foot ailments.

This is one of the final fittings for her custom made suit.

Here she is, flashing her rock, while waiting to perform.

The animation stage is set up in the basement, with lights and a camera on a slider. The scene bollow is made with real candy, so everything is pretty sticky. To give you an idea of the time involved, we’re currently filming a 10 second shot that totals 240 photographs. There’a a lot of action with many moving parts and I’ve already had to start over 3 times because of bumping props during the process. One could think of it as 6 hours of wasted effort, but every time I redo it, I learn something new and the results are more nuanced. Tomorrow, I will try again, being extra careful to move only the parts that need animating!

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28 thoughts on “America First lady

  1. An amazing creative effort! I am looking forward to seeing the result of all your efforts! Love seeing your posts of progress. Thank you! Anne Torry-Ballou

  2. ‘Tis truly amazing! You not only put hours into the making of the dolls, costumes and sets, you then spend hours filming and providing the motion. Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. Can’t wait for the reveal!

  3. Dear Sally,
    Never doubt that the “fun” you are having with your commentary on 45 are valued for the sanity it preserves in these insane times. I’ve frequently thought, “poor M” but always reconsider with the thought that she has made “certain choices” much like those poor women who thought they could benefit by selling their souls to the devil in Hollywood and so many, many other situations.
    Thank you!
    Cathryn in Corvallis

  4. How interesting! I live in Portland OR, and just watched and episode of ArtBeat (a show on Oregon Public Broadcasting) on stop action animation and it turns out that Portland is a hotbed for it! Who knew? We actually have a few studios here: Laika Entertainment, Ackerman Films and Bent Image Lab. If you’re interested, here is a link to the episode.
    It does seem a bit tedious with the number of frames required to complete a film sequence, but I thought it was really interesting and the results are just wonderful. Wallace and Grommit are a huge favorite. I’m enjoying seeing your process. Thanks for showing us a bit where you can.

    • Thanks for the link. For those involved, it must be fun to be a part of Portland’s thriving animation scene. Yes, the process can be tedious, but engrossing like a lot of art forms. Yesterday, I spent 5 hours filming a 12 second scene and totally lost track of time.

  5. Thank you for sharing Salley. I can’t wait to see your video and your characters come to life. But I love seeing the process. You certainly know how to build the anticipation for your creation! 😄

  6. Amazing how you nailed the FLOTUS. The flood shoes are fabulous. Dolls all over the US will be wanting them. Thank goodness you have such a patient DH.

  7. Salley, You are so clever! Even though I am English and living “over the pond”, I knew instantly who that was. The Slavic eyes are amazing. Well done. I love to receive your emails. Wyn Ingham

  8. Thanks for sharing some of your process! So glad you are illuminating these weird political times. You have captured in all your characters the essence of these beings in real life. There is SO much to tell that it must be difficult picking events to create!! Keep it up!!

  9. Thank you for your ongoing comments on progress. I used to imagine doing a small movie of characters moving around a cake during the night, when I decorated cakes! But now I’m into stitch and embroidery and love stop motion animation, so all aspects of your work is of great interest to me personally, and a lot of fun. Sandra, North Yorkshire, UK

  10. Your work ethic is inspiring. I love your sense of humor and applaud your efforts to comment on the mess we find ourselves in. I look forward to seeing the final results of your hard work. Many thanks to your husband for being such a faithful co-worker and creative partner.

  11. I love the total creativity of your doll making. I am concerned about one comment about this being a negative commentary on the president and his family, including his wife. I hope you poke fun at ALL the current politics if that is what this is about. If it is a contribution to the distasteful commentary of everything T, then one of 3 things will happen. 1. People will love it. Those who are on the everything anti President side. 2. People will not like it, those who don’t want to hear it anymore, and you lose followers on your incredible body of work. 3. You alienate people no matter what. I opened this email with the prospect of seeing your joyful work. I am one of the many wearied from the ugly politics entering into my joyful hobby and business. Everyone makes choices of were they want their art to go and art has a controversial past. I truly believe I am in the majority. We are hobbiest. We avoid the news and Facebook feeds that continue in a ongoing never ending feed of negativity. We just quietly, or in my case not so quietly delete or hide posts, that make us sigh in disappointment. I have one Fiber artist I have adored for years. She post her politics into her art now. I just scroll past in disappointment. I mean I REALLY loved her work. It has been part of my home and creativity. Now I just can’t do it. I used to not know or care what my Fiber idols politics were and didn’t care. Now they are forced upon us. I prefer my joyful pastimes to be a “Political Free Zone!” If I am totally incorrect about you creative direction, I look forward to your project and can’t wait to see it. I once made a “Gettysburg Address Quilt” for a Family member. That’s as political as I wish to get in my relief from outside stress and politics in my pastimes.

    • Thank you for sharing your dismay with the political turn in some people’s art, including mine. I can understand if you feel taken by surprise and want to know more about the political nature of my work. Since the election I have made many satirical tableaus starring the Wee Folk Players. Perhaps you are new to my blog and haven’t seen them. Over the past year, I have written about my foray into political satire, talk about how I deal with critics, and describe how speaking out through art has affected my work and life. You may find this post informative:

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