I recently had the good fortune to watch the beautiful ‘But Milk Is Important’ stop-motion short by the lovely Eirik Gronmo Bjornsen, and Anna Mantzaris. They were kind enough to let me watch the full animation and I have to say that it deserved every award and acclaim it got. It was a lovely comment on social anxieties and the limits of the self. Many people have felt horribly nervous in social situations or handicapped by this nervousness and can relate to how crippling it can be, it would be nice to have a fuzzy friend to give you that push, just to help you through..
In my case, I found this through the unending support of a good and close friend, (only nearly as fuzzy!) and I got through my anxiety and depression eventually. I owe it all to him as he stood by me through all sorts of difficulties. In the case of the little guy in this film, a strange fuzzy creature appears and moves in with him, annoying him and generally being a little too close for comfort, eventually giving him the shove he needs in the right direction. You could say he is the furry little embodiment of confidence, a representation of our anxieties and how, with courage, we can overcome them.
The animation is sketchy, but beautiful and the sculpting, quaint and etsy-ish. I loved it through and through.
One of the things that interested me, was the design of the fuzzy friend. He’s ADORABLE, and I think, made out of needle felted wool, something I recently became interested in. It allows for a lightweight and pretty detailed puppet or whatever little thing you feel like making. It’s a time consuming process, but easier than I thought to get the hang of- felted over a wire armature it’d be a flexible, repairable, fuzzy little puppet.
After a few months of practice, and some thoroughly lumpy first attempts, I decided to use needle felt myself, and turn it to puppet making.
Offhand a sweet friend of mine asked me if she could use my work as an example in her school project, and it naturally seemed about time that I made something for her. Going along the same lines as the first stop-motion puppet I made, I sculpted the head, neck joint (a single joint this time) and then felted the bulk of the body over the wire armature, then..
I had a mishap with the baking of the clay. I made the neck, head, and a little horned hat, put them in the oven and wandered away to wait. They were all in there for the usual 30 minutes, but came out black and.. burned. They weren’t crispy or cracked, just black, and I was quite upset to see that the temperature had been 100 degrees over what it should have been for normal clay baking. Hmmph.
I stared for a few minutes, frown in place, and in the end it wasn’t so bad- the black colour was quite shiny and hadn’t warped the shape of the clay. It matched the horns and the yellow eyes I had painted and set into the head, so not entirely a total loss. It added to the demon theme, and I’m sure it’s a theme the person I made it for will appreciate that.
It looks a little furry, but is easily manoeuvred, the improved neck joint works well, allowing for a good range of movement and the weight of the head doesn’t make it difficult to balance the weight of the rest of the puppet. Despite the burning incident, I don’t think (s)he turned out so badly..
It was much easier to move than the first puppet I made so I’ll probably go on to make more of them like this..
Let me know what you all think : )
(There’s extra clothing and a fiery red wig in the little suitcase- I like to feel like my puppets have little lives of their own, they feel much more real/ alive that way!)