Saturday, October 13, 2007


Right after the arrival of the awesome Wendy Froud-designed puppets for MYTHIC JOURNEYS, director Steve Boe commissioned me to construct the next puppet member of the cast, a forlorn and bark-covered beauty called "The Tree Girl".

"The Tree Girl" is one of a series of sculptures by Virginia Lee, a fantasy artist whose works have graced many a feature film (sometimes working with her father, Alan Lee, who won the Oscar for art direction on LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING). Steve was really captivated by the piece and asked if it could be turned into a stop motion puppet. "Suuuuuuure," I casually replied. Inside I was jumping with excitement to get started on a really unique puppet-making challenge. Virginia graciously gave us permission to use her beautiful sculpture as the starting point for our character...

The first task was to construct a wire armature. Since the lower half of the body was going to be a solid piece, I used only one wire. The arms were several bundled smaller wires left looong at the end to build her finger-branches off of. Some steel epoxy anchors the torso and pelvic regions...

Next I cast a head in plastic. This head comes from a mold I made that is pretty neutral and can serve as a base for many variations...

Five holes are drilled into the plastic head, for the wire branches to go into. The branches are held in place with a little JB Quik...

The head here, some of the wires have begun to be coated with Magic Sculpt, but there's lots--LOTS--more to do before the head will be done!

Also start adding Magic Sculpt to the body at this point. Magic Sculpt is the best for sculpting features that don't require flexibility...

Half-done head joins half-done body...

The head sculpt complete. The face has been altered by shaving off part of the old face and building new features with Magic Sculpt...

Sculpting complete and puppet base-coated. I built up the arms, shoulders and next with liquid latex and cotton and tried to smooth it in with the rest of the body. I also built up the joints where the "fingers" join the hands, tho the fingers themselves aren't flexible. Little beady eyes add some personality...

The finished puppet...I brushed on another layer of liquid latex to strengthen the skin and create a slightly rippled surface, like tree bark. Stipple painting and dry-brushing with black acrylic gives some nice definition.

Steve took the groovy portrait seen here and at the beginning of this's fun to have built a puppet to act alongside Wendy's magnificent designs!


Blogger Tennessee Reid said...

WOW !!! Amazing sculpt man!
What a unique character!
Cant wait to see the cool shadows she will cast!

Gotta see it in person.



7:53 AM  
Blogger jriggity said...


nicely done man!

you did a great job!


2:12 PM  
Blogger UbaTuber said...

Awesome puppet, man, I love it, but you knew I would :)

7:59 PM  
Blogger Sven Bonnichsen said...

Setting my impresso-phaser to "stunned."

8:15 PM  
Blogger Michael Granberry said...

Thanks, guys!

9:03 PM  
Blogger shel said...

wow michael!!!



8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW you are talented and cute.
I'm OOAK Artist doll too.
Congratz, your working is amazing.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Shelley Noble said...

Boy, I've really missed a TON of great stuff by not subscribing to the Granberry blog! Remedied! I had no idea the Virgina Lee was Alan Lee's daughter, holy cow!

He's my favorite fantasy fairie artist and I found and loved her work independently. Great to know their gift is genetic!

9:08 PM  

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