Christmas Relics

I created a new collection of curiosities as gifts to the family this Christmas. All were based on stories, movies or legends they liked as kids. Click on images to enlarge.

Boat Plank from the "MAX"
For my brother in law Paul. A weathered old plank from a small boat found on the shore of a wild island where some say "things" live. Circa 1963.

Keepsakes of "D. Gale"
For my sister Monica. An old box, circa 1900, containing odd pieces of yellow brick wrapped in blue gingham.

Pirate Edward Low's Flag
For my brother Ted Lowe. The tattered remains of the actual pirate flag flown by the infamous Captain Edward "Ned" Low.

Martian War Telegram
For my father.  A 1953 telegram sent to Gen. Mann in Santa Rosa CA. alerting him that "cylinders" have crashed all around the world. Dr. Clayton Forrester is also mentioned and to be retained for consultation.

Unicorn Horn
For my sister Megan. A rare unicorn fawn's first horn shed like "baby teeth" at 1000 years old before maturing.

Sankara Stone
For my brother in law Kirk. A fabled Sankara stone found by Prof. Henry Jones Jr.

Nanny Wanted Ad
For my Mom. A clipping from a 1910 London Times newspaper page featuring a "help wanted" ad for a nanny at 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

My JEDItastic Surprise Christmas Gift

Some Christmas gifts are for a laugh. Some Christmas gifts are sentimental.

This year, niece Devin surprised me late in the day with a present combining both... a musical performance dedicated to her nerdy uncle that she's been secretly practicing.

It brought a tear to my geeky eye.

Creative Inspiration: R.O. Blechman

R.O. Blechman is an illustrator, cartoonist, author and animator. Although his name might not be instantly recognizable to many, his signature wiggly line style certainly is, having graced countless magazines, books, ads and TV commercials over the past 50 years.

Below is an animated holiday interstitial for CBS he created. It makes me really nostalgic. It aired often on the network for years in the early 70's when I was a little kid growing up watching all those Christmas specials.

I recall seeing it air once or twice in the early 80's during the holidays after the CBS Late Late Movie and before the network would conclude it's broadcast day with the national anthem.

Man, I'm old.

But the warm feeling you get from watching this is timeless...

Pixie Makeover

Recently, I designed a kid's room makeover in a Tinkerbell theme for an episode of Disney Channel's "Get Connected".

The first concept (above) was liked, but revised needing to be more practical and something the young folk hosting the show could do themselves on camera.

The actual room turned out pretty cute. I'll share those pics soon once the episode airs.

Original 34th Street Window Reindeer Prop

One of my all time favorite movies and not just around the holidays is the 1947 "Miracle On 34th Street". One of my favorite scenes is Kris Kringle's charming and funny introduction correcting a store clerk on his reindeer placement in a window display.

That original reindeer prop is part of an upcoming Profiles in History auction. Of all the amazing movie memorabilia up for grabs, this is the only thing I think I'd be willing to spent huge amounts of money on (if I had it to spend). Somehow I feel like there's some real magic in it.

More details on the LA Times blog and here's that exact scene via HULU...

Sankara Stone: Take Two

Like an itch you can't scratch, it was driving me crazy that the prop Sankara Stone I made was not closer looking to the one seen in "Temple of Doom", so I had to re-do it.

I sanded down the one I made, then did what I previously posted with far more care using reference images and not just glancing up at the movie while on TV.  It actually took less time to do than the first attempt. It's not perfect, but much better.

On a side note, I believe just jumping in head first on any project is the best way to learn. Re-making an established prop may seem silly, but most art schools will have you re-draw a master's work to gain knowledge. Prop making is no different.

Sankara Stone Making While Watching Indiana Jones Movies

USA Network aired all the Indiana Jones films back to back last night. During "Temple of Doom" I was inspired to make a Sankara stone. It became a personal creative challenge to complete before "The Last Crusade" ended.

While Willie Scott was almost sacrificed to Kali, I glued some scrap craft foam together.

During the mine car chase I carved the foam into a basic Sankara stone shape.

As "Temple of Doom" ended and "Last Crusade" started, I gave it a first coat of Fix-It-All.

When Indy rescued his dad from the castle, I carved the three lines in the Sankara and added a second coat of Fit-It-All. At this point I also noted my biggest goof. The lines were far too deep. Decided to just forge ahead and see what happens.

By the time Indy was chasing the tank, the Sankara was sanded and painted. Here I noted my second goof. The entire prop was a bit too big and not cylindrical enough. It's flat and saggy looking, not the clean bullet shape the film prop has.

Once Indy chose wisely and picked the right grail, the paint dried enough so I could sand the indented areas creating the distinct white lines.

It was done once the credits rolled. Although far from an accurate movie prop replica, it was a fun creative adventure.

Update: I was compelled to re-work it and make more movie accurate. It actually took less time to create than the first go round did and is much, much better looking. I used the same process stepped out above, but with more care to detail. There were three stones found in the film, so I should make the other two at some point.

A Zombie A Month: December's Forgotten Prisoner

I'm already behind still working on last month's cauldron stew zombie, but no reason not to keep on schedule idea wise.

This forgotten prisoner is next in line to be created. He should be really fun to make and a character who's been in my Halloween display mind's eye for awhile now. He'll hang off the front porch awning.

I'm going to incorporate the dungeon shackles prop from a couple of years ago which were made from cardboard tubes some Christmas presents were shipped in. So there is some sort of a December connection.

Antique Prospector Business Card

I recently made, sorry I mean, acquired this item. It's a unique addition to my cabinet of curiosities. What's most unusual to me is who knew prospectors and miners would have business cards? But I guess they had to self market themselves like many do to make a living, especially for this guy who had such remote territory to cover being in the North Pole.

It's a nice companion piece to my strange Abominable Snow Monster of the North tooth.

Harvest of Shame

 50 years ago this week the plight of the American migrant worker was exposed in the landmark CBS Reports documentary, Harvest of Shame, as reported by Edward R. Murrow and produced by my grandfather David Lowe. This program was my grandfather's first job as producer for CBS Reports and earned an Emmy and a Peabody. He went on to produce many influential and award winning episodes in the series.

CBS news has made the entire documentary available to watch on their website and through their YouTube channel (click here). It's a fascinating and poignant time capsule of the world then and sadly, as reported by CBS recently, still an issue in our country today (click here). Take the time to watch and read.

My Grandfather makes several appearances in Harvest of Shame conducting most of the interviews. This fact means a great deal to me, not because he was on TV, but because I never knew him. He passed away a few weeks before I was born. It allows me to hear his voice and get a sense of the person he was beyond family stories.

A Zombie a Month: November

After much musing on and sketching ideas for, I've decided not to just fix up the old jungle explorer cannibal dinner prop, but make it a complete do-over.

I thought about changing him to a chef or a pilgrim or a witch, but not every zombie has to be a unique personality. In this case I'm going to make the cauldron the character and change the zombie to a simpler fun detail just peeking out of the wretched brew.

My hope is this becomes a set piece complimenting the wall hanging witch crash prop and create a themed area for her in that part of the Halloween display. Maybe adding a table in there of some kind with her spell books, potions and an embarrassed looking black cat familiar spirit.

The challenge here will be taking the original cheap-o plastic party store cauldron and making it "real" looking. I want to add some custom made handles and a decent paint job so it seems like actual cast iron. The burning logs and embers underneath will get attention to detail as well.

Get Connected

October was indeed a busy month. Here's another prop I made in those weeks.

Here's what it was for.

Halloween 2010: Addams and Munsters Who?

Mother October Nature and her two boys... Dave-son and Dr. Ted-enstein.

And with her granddaughter... Capt. Dark Devin the notorious pirate.

Happy Birthday Mom!

A Zombie A Month

I just discovered, while sorting and packing up Halloween props, I have exactly 12 torso free skulls from past zombie creations that have fallen apart over the years. They've inspired a fun way to keep the Halloween prop making flame burning as a countdown to next October. I'm going to try and make a zombie a month. I figure it's a realistic goal, spending an hour or so working on once in awhile.

If I pull this off, plus the few still complete ones from this year, there would be 16 zombies lurking on the lawn in 2011. Fun to imagine. Also fun to imagine... completing just half the past ideas I've had not including zombies.

I thought with Thanksgiving soon upon us, a feasting theme would be apropos for November. My really old and beat up, jungle explorer cannibal victim will get fixed up and re-made as the first zombie. Might be fun to change him into a pilgrim as well. It's a look that would still work at Halloween. We'll see.

As he once was back in '06...

As he is today, in need of much repair...