Ring a Belle?

Expressing Gratitude Through Fan-Art!

This project is now complete! This post remains for posterity and completeness but please come and see the finished work here.

The internet is alive with passions but which voices get heard? I want those who make Once Upon A Time to know I appreciate their work and that Once makes me happy. So I will use my passions to express my gratitude. It is with great excitement and anticipation that I announce the beginnings of my latest gratitude project!

It would be no fun at all to merely describe the project and then post its completion, so I won’t do that. The point, after all, is the process. Instead, I’ll journal my progress here. Vaguely. This way, I will have a record of my journey and will get to watch the evolution of this project, succeed or fail.

Here we go!

Mid December 2015: I hatched this idea about two weeks before Christmas. I was working on my Once Upon A Time Season 5A Awards project and enjoying that process -making the image manipulations- when I realized that I was having a blast doing it. And that I make other kinds of art than just digital and pumpkin based.

I soon realized that I could go so much further than simply making a piece of art. I could show you how I went about it. I could share the journey.

Late December 2015: I ordered these

Ingredients: filming equipment
Ingredients: filming equipment

and started writing music. The writing went relatively well. The performance, not so much.

1 January 2016: I have been practicing and improving- the typical result of practice and effort. I began writing basic script ideas and formalizing the Gratitude Project Description.

2 January 2016: I took a trip to a bead store and several other craft stores with a friend. We encouraged each other’s creative endeavors. I consulted a friend about the desirable gauge and karat of gold wire and I acquired these for experimentation:

Ingredients: copper-ish wire and wooden beads.
Ingredients: copper-ish wire and wooden beads.

In the evening, I drafted the formal Gratitude Project Description write up.

3 January 2016: I have now published the Gratitude Project Description and spent some frustration on my blog’s menu system. I have outgrown the bounds of this template but was unable find a better one for free. And I refuse to risk losing the extensive amount of menu work I have done. While I appreciate WordPress, it does have its limitations. But! As of today, this project will be documented here.

Note: the ratio of wire to finished chain is about 6:1. Tension is important for even stitching. Safety note- be sure to wear glasses so as not to scratch eyeballs with flicking wire.IMG_1402

7 January 2015: Today I worked on imagining. Imagining thoroughly is indispensable for art. A half-baked idea turns into a disappointing project. It is impossible to make something exactly which is ill-defined in the first place. I worked on my ability to understand shapes in three dimensions and on drawing, not a strong skill of mine, but essential for imagining. I also began filming in earnest. My new equipment is exceeding expectations.

30 January 2016

Thank you universe!!

Today I went to visit a friend in her new home. She moved to a neighborhood I used to frequent for work and adventure when I was in college but it had been months since I had set foot there for any reason as I live a city and a bridge or two away. We had a wonderful visit. The neighborhood has changed, gentrified, substantially in the past sixteen years and as we walked through the streets, I realized that while I used to know my way around, I was totally dependent on my friend because I was lost. I dimly wondered, and lamented because it simply couldn’t be so, if my favorite fabric store had survived the surge in high rise apartment buildings and sprouting of trendy restaurants.

My friend and I made the effort to frequent a tea house, but it was closed so we opted to keep walking until we achieved our original mission, a bowl of pho for lunch. We snooped in shops along the way and she took me to see a library where she used to work which has a green roof. It’s so cool. After pho we took the long way back to her house as the day was pleasant and good for walking.

Lo and behold, there between yet another high-rise under construction and a recently completed one, was my fabric store.

When I was living in the dorms, a college friend and I decided we simply had to have cloaks. Lord of the Rings was rising in the east and stalking the university district with a billowing cloak at night was too much for my teenage brain to pass up, hers too. So, in one of our early adventures in a new city, we searched for a fabric store, found the nearest one and then figured out how to bus it there.

Poor as many college students, we opted for reject fabric on the one-dollar-a-yard or less rack in the back of the store. We were SO happy. My memory fails me as to how we got these sewn while living in dorm rooms, maybe we did it at my then boyfriend’s apartment, but I can’t remember anymore. It’s also possible we didn’t sew these cloaks until sophomore year when we lived in our own apartment together. But at doesn’t matter.

The point is in the present day when myself and my (other) friend decided to go in and visit this fabric store only because I was telling her about my good memories of it from college. We went in. We were immediately attracted to the coloring books for adults on display, though we didn’t buy them.

I only walked to the back of the store because I wanted to see what had become of my beloved sale rack. There, unassuming on a shelf sat this:

The Teacup
The Teacup

I stared and exclaimed to my friend. I just couldn’t believe it! How could I possibly get so lucky? I have been struggling with this project because I cannot touch and hold the actual teacup in question. Sight alone simply could not tell me how it was made, what it is like to hold, how much it weighs and a million other little details that I was certain never to have the answers to because, after all, it isn’t like Once is going to send me the cup for my edification.

Yes I know that there are copies available for sale, but from the pictures I have seen, they are not the same exact design.

But this is. This cup is mass produced, wholesale I assume, for decoration by whomever and for use as film props, clearly. I believe this is made with a couple of moulds, but I can’t be certain. These are not thrown by hand, that much is obvious. The original model for the mould might have been a thrown piece, in fact it seems likely. The image transfer is different and this is ever so slightly different from the original seen in Skin Deep, but the body and design of the cup are the same. The handle has a few subtle differences, but this is the teacup.

Learning a form is a very interesting challenge. In order to make something, anything, the first step is to imagine it completely, thoroughly. This is a challenging process. My teacher this quarter has shifted the dynamic of the class toward the didactic such that she has set us a series of challenges designed to improve our skill and artistry. This is a wonderful thing, of course, but I have been long used to just making whatever I want in this unstructured time during which I only made use of my teacher for insight and help on whatever I had in mind. It’s been years since the basic classes which were structured.

My teacher is, I hope, not offended that I’ve got this project and am only peripherally listening and following along with her plan. She has said this is no problem to her and I’m not the only student on her own trajectory, so I am not just being disrespectful. However, she did suggest that we all pick an artist and try to emulate something that interests us, not to sell or anything like that, just to figure out how it was made and then acquire those skills. This part of the class is clearly in line with my work. So, another thing I am learning from this gratitude project is how to make something specific rather than something that generally fits what I had in mind.

It’s all in the ability to imagine and then execute.

I picked up the cup and felt a rush of jubilation and excitement. All the things I had been wondering about came in to my mind in a rush of tactile information. I could finally look at it from all the angles I need to. I now know how thick the walls should be. More than anything, I know the actual size of the prop. People’s hand sizes vary so scale is hard to appreciate exactly from a photograph. I no longer have to. I know how it should fit in my hands.

I was probably giggling and I was definitely smiling. The answer to MANY of my stumbling blocks so far in this process was in my hands, and I never in a million years thought it would be.

Of course I turned it over, how much was I going to have to pay to take this home? I sure as hell wasn’t leaving it in the store, so how much was this rather tacky looking teacup going to set me back?

Ten bucks the tag on the bottom said. Ok, that’s expensive for a mass produced teacup, but it wouldn’t break the bank.

Then I had to choose a print pattern. I didn’t like any of them and the certainly weren’t the chipped cup, which actually looks elegant with its simple cobalt carbonate brush work design. I picked the least cheesy print and held it like long lost pet, or an heirloom from a beloved relative.

We wandered the store for a little while more and I ran my fingers over every aspect of the cup learning what I had been so frustrated by not knowing only two days ago. I held it carefully, determined that I would not allow this cup to come to harm before I so much as got it home to really study it in detail.

When it finally came time to pay, delightfully it was half off. I paid a whopping five bucks for a huge amount of happiness.

Afterwards, my friend and I were discussing how to do vacations right and not have to even leave the city. Day trips to be exact. We talked about how the ability to wander with out a plan is seemingly a rare thing among our friends and how planning everything out ahead of time can feel like such a burden. The art of wandering yields amazing pleasantness and exploration. She quoted Winnie the Pooh.

I explained an assignment from a college psych class called the Vision Quest. The rules are simple: do not plan, leave the house, do not come back for at least four hours, wander, expect to find meaning somewhere and embrace it when it happens. I told her what a wonderful time I had had doing the assignment and I was thinking about the serendipity of finding the cup while wandering. This isn’t magic or religion, it is simply noticing the things in life that matter and being open to experience.

If we had been worried about going a certain way, or getting a certain thing done, I would not have brought up my memories and then taken us into the store to indulge them. But plans, such as they were, were loose ones which allowed for deviation and made room for experience. Meaning is found by noticing life as it happens and being willing to accept our feelings about it.

That and blind ass luck, which this was.

I bought the cup at Jo-Ann Fabric, by the way, if you want a tacky teacup of your own.

For clarity’s sake, I am not making a cup. I am not simply (ha, ha) making a copy of a film prop. I am making what the film prop inspired me to make, so you’ll just have to wait and see what I come up with. After all, the what is much less important than the journey, the collecting of neat experiences like this one.

18 February 2016


What a productive day! I confess disappointment because the first drafts were still in the kiln and it was too hot to unload when I arrived. Next week, then, to see what works, and what doesn’t. Today however I was able to put my newly fabricated handles on two of my pots and how fabulous that, turned on its side, the handle of the chipped cup looks like a graceful R. I am getting more and more excited about this project and I am getting better as a potter in leaps and bounds. I can nearly approximate the cup now and I learned a little more today which will help me get just a little bit closer to my goals. It takes one half pound of clay to make the teacup part at the proper thickness and dimension and I only need a curved object, not a hemispherical one, to make the out-poaching parts of the cup. I am getting so close to being ready to making my final products.

Someone asked me today how many of these I plan to make. The answer? As many as it takes until I get it right. Which means until I love what I make. I am experiencing such a lovely explosion of ideas of what to do with these and how to alter the surface and glaze designs. I’ve also decided that I need a bowl sized chipped teacup just for my own personal use at home. Because it would make me happy. Oh yes, and I have spent the day being happy. This is working!

Please come and see the now completed project!!

Before you go, you can check out my research project! I have conducted a study of OUAT viewer preferences and you can check on my progress here. Yay for science!


2 thoughts on “Ring a Belle?

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