Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Voice of Claymation

I was a little girl when I first discovered 'Wallace and Gromit'. It was magic. If it didn't exist then I wouldn't be where I am now. I would probably have found my artistic outlet in a design agency in London or be illustrating books. But I would not work in miniatures. So that's how much influence it had on me.

A few days ago we lost Peter Sallis, who had given Wallace his original voice. He died peacefully at the age of 96. A talented, brilliant actor who made the only speaking character of the duo so remarkably endearing and funny by the smallest utterance.

Sorry to blog about something so sad, but I just wanted to say something here to honour Peter Sallis and then also point you towards a much better tribute by Nick Park here.

Thank you all. I'll post something else soon.
claymation, clay animation, wallace and gromit, nick park, caroline mcfarlane-watts, miniatures

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A Strange Dog, a Flood and a Man...

A strange dog, a flood and a man walk into a bar....

...no, not really. This Welsh proverb sounds like a joke at first glance. I like it and since this blog post is about something Welsh, I include it.

"Three things it is best to avoid - 
a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise."
~ Welsh proverb.

If you're disappointed and wanted a joke, scroll to the end of this post for my standard joke I tell in pubs. Few enjoy it as much as me.

This post is about my design process and how I arrive at something I am happy with.

Almost two years ago I designed and sculpted a Welsh witch character called Mabyn Mossback for 'Good Witches Bad Witches'  and showed her here on this blog. 

This was the initial sketch.

I had to include a sheep because Wales and sheep are inextricably linked. I had the sheep led by a leek on a string (naturally) and gave her a traditional Welsh stovepipe hat and red wool shawl. Also, she's knitting. I was never convinced this was the right design though...

Here's her sheep.

So a year later (April 2016) I found time to sketch her again - still riding her white ram and dressed mostly the same. This time I added an umbrella and a mushroom to her hat. It still wasn't right for 'Good Witches Bad Witches' so I shelved her again and worked on others.

This was the watercolour sketch.

This year I sold her since she never quite belonged to the 'Good Witches Bad Witches' world.... she was detailed and nicely made, but the design didn't work for me. I re-imagined her, this time without the leek on the string... and this time I suddenly realised that of course her ram had to be black, not white. I kept (but changed) the Welsh stovepipe hat and red wool shawl. I kept the umbrella. But this time, I designed her not riding the ram, but sitting in a modest cart, pulled by the ram. The cart is carved like a Welsh love spoon. Balls of wool sit packed up at the back of her cart. 

Here's the design...

And here it is as a better sketch...

Check back at this blog soon as I'll share images of the new sculpted maquette... the finished Mabyn Mossback (Welsh witch) and then in a few weeks there will be a video all about making her at the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel here. Please subscribe to the channel if you're interested in watching me work and stay tuned for tutorials to be added this year as well (that is, if interest is there!)

A glimpse at her and her ram...

And finally, my joke.
Two chemists walk into a bar. Bartender asks "What can I get you?"
The first chemist says, "I'll have a glass of H2O."
The second chemist says, " I'll have H2O too."

The second chemist dies.        tall tales productions, caroline mcfarlane-watts, cs mcfarlane-watts, animation, stop-motion, scale models, miniature models, miniaturist, concept maquette, maquette sculpting, sculpting figures, character design, laika, tim burton design, aardman, miniature characters, mackinnon saunders, peter lord

Friday, 26 May 2017


Last post was about this new character maquette - Captain J. Hook, sculpted in 1:12 scale miniature by hand using polymer clay.

There's a new video for you up on the Tall Tales Productions YouTube Channel here, so you can learn (in just 60 seconds) how this character was created from initial sketches to the final piece. It's not an in-depth tutorial, but it gives a fun insight to the process which I hope you will enjoy. If you like any of the content at the YouTube Channel, then be sure to subscribe so that you don't miss updates. There will be many tutorials coming soon (they've been shot already and are getting edited as we speak).


Maquette sculpting and Painting video...

And here is a video from the exhibition opening night at Center Stage Gallery, Burbank.

Photos of the exhibition...

tall tales productions, stop-motion animation exhibition, laika gallery, laika exhibition, laika display, laika exhibition universal studios, tim burton gallery show lacma, laika gallery show, concept maquettes, stop motion maquettes, Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo del Toro art show, Guillermo del Toro gallery show lacma, los angeles, disney artists show, caroline mcfarlane-watts

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Second Star on the Right

Second star on the right and straight on 'til morning.....
.... yep, we're off to Never Neverland today to see my Captain James Hook.

If you follow Tall Tales Productions on Instagram (here) or Facebook (here) or even Twitter (here) then you've probably caught some behind the scenes of this character coming to life. If you live in Los Angeles and can get over to Burbank tomorrow night (Friday 5th May) then you can see him in person! He is about to become part of a group show at Center Stage Gallery, Burbank where the theme is Neverland. So he's a great fit!

About how he was made...

Like most of my work, he was made using polymer clay over wire. I sketched him first and tried all sorts of different ideas based on J.M. Barrie's description of him in the book. I wanted to give him a huge flouncy beard but since none was mentioned, I resisted. He is described as imitating King Charles II in his personal dress and wig, so I went that direction whilst trying very hard not to let him look like Disney's famous interpretation of Hook.

Captain Hook holds a lantern with Tinkerbell trapped inside it.The lantern is wired to flicker with a battery powered bulb.

He's 1:12 scale (standing at about 6.5 inches without his hat) which would make him 6'5" in real life. A tall and imposing bloke.

Enjoy the photos below and if you want to see more then do make sure you follow along on social media places so that you don't miss out. There will be a short video about him soon and I have a new witch character from Good Witches Bad Witches ™ for you soon as well.

“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

MacKinnon & Saunders, miniature models, maquette, maquette for film, concept maquette for film, commercial, stop-motion, claymation, Tall Tales, Tall Tales Productions, The Pirates!, Aardman, Peter Lord, Laika, Travis Knight, Tim Burton, animation, miniature, scale miniature, caroline mcfarlane-watts, clay mation, stop-motion animation, captain hook, neverland, peter pan, hook, captain james hook, tinker bell, fairies, never grow up

Monday, 3 April 2017

My Little China Girl

It's about time I gave you another witch character for Good Witches Bad Witches , don't you think?! 

Here is my latest witch. Just finished her the other day. Her name is Yinying Gu and she's from Guilin, China. Her familiar (witch's pet) is a pug called Sudu, and she carries mynah birds on her back. Her elaborate hairdo displays a bone and tarantula hair ornament. Her long witchy robes are my take on a hanfu, and her wide belt holds her golden bird cage to her hunched back. Her Ming pot has a dragon pattern under a crackle glaze finish.   

Another 1:12 scale sculpture handmade by myself, she stands at less than 5 inches tall. Breaking with tradition, I have only put a few development photos below as you'll be able to see more, learn more about how she was made and about the character herself by purchasing a copy of my book 'The Art of Good Witches Bad Witches' which is out this summer.

I thought someone would probably want to buy a pug, so I actually made two and have made one available for purchase at my webshop here. There's only one, so don't miss out! I ship everywhere.

Enjoy the photos!

tim burton, stop motion, caroline mcfarlane watts, spooky, nightmare before christmas, laika, coraline, halloween, witches, sculpture, dreamworks, mckinnon saunders

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Book News!

Book News...

If you're interested in the book from Tall Tales Productions, 'The Art of Good Witches Bad Witches' then take a moment to complete this really short (it's only 2 questions!) survey!

No obligation to buy the book if you take part in my quick survey.

What's the survey about?
It's to find out roughly how many people might want to buy the book and also if you'd prefer a shorter and cheaper book or a longer slightly more expensive book before I go to the printers. 

And I've explained it briefly in a video which you can watch here as well!

Thanks a lot! Your feedback is so helpful.

~ Caroline

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet..."
~ William Shakespeare; 'Romeo and Juliet' 

It's about time you (those of you that have followed the project Good Witches Bad Witches  for any length of time) learnt the names of the witches you've come to know. I spent the weekend sketching various witches (actually I managed six over the two days) and if you follow the new Tall Tales Productions Instagram account you may have caught the video (here) of me drawing one. Note - I've had an Instagram account for almost two years, but often used it for personal photos, so it was about time I set up this company Instagram account.

You can now find the official Tall Tales Productions Instagram account here, and follow it to see any behind the scenes work, finished work, videos, tutorials... basically anything created within Tall Tales. Expect to see more artwork, sculpting, witches, books, miniature models and even miniature food. I wont use this account to post anything which is not business related.

You can also follow the dedicated Good Witches Bad Witches  Instagram account here. This will not be behind the scenes about how the project is made, but instead it will be finished shots and you can learn more about the characters themselves, not the technicalities of how they were created.

You can continue to follow my personal Instagram account here if you like!


The names!

From left to right (on the above line up), we have Olga, Mildred, Falka, Eris, Drusilla and Marla. See sketches below... more to come soon.

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