It’s trailer time, sister! Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival 2018 has but three scant weeks of open submissions left and then it’s on to the judging and promoting! Which is to say, we’re playing with dollies and raiding the craft store for pieces and parts, and, in general, getting glue all over the place – SWOON! Let me tell you a bit about the latest build –

I was never really a kid who played with Barbis. I mean, I had some Barbis, right? They were my aunt’s, actually, and they came in a really cool red vinyl case – I think there were two of them. But I never really got into, you know, playing with them. Which, in the big picture, isn’t that much of a thing, I suppose – I was busy climbing trees and reading books when I was at that Barbi age. I think I was into roller skating too. And I remember a summer when I, a kinda uncoordinated kid*, spent hour after hour in the driveway learning to bounce and catch a pink Spalding high-bounce ball because it felt like something I really ought to be able to do.

So, yeh, I never really played with Barbi dolls. Which is to say, I’m missing a few key bits of experience:
1. I have not mastered the art of balancing dolls, nor do I understand the physics behind how to work with a top-heavy object
2. Oh, yeh – perportion x.x

bun stars
So in working up the set build, it never occurred to me that the modified Barbis that are our #RHPFF trailer movie stars (one of which is reallllly top-heavy now that she has a bunny face and ears) are, well, rather tall in comparison to the trees I purchased for background. They look kind of like shrubs on posts. Or like they’re really far away. Which is to say, we needed bigger trees.**

So I decided to build some. (Like ya do.)

I started with some tubes. I had a mailing tube around, and it seemed like a good place to call a trunk. Next, with some Frog Tape*** I attached other tubes to make the branches. I moved on to paper towel tubes for trunks, and when I ran out of paper towel tubes (ok, I only had one), I raided the recycling from the bathroom and started taping TP tubes together for trunks. For the branches, I cut down the center of the TP tubes and rolled them into cones, and taped those to my trunks.

And of course nothing stood up, because I never learned how to balance tippy stuff while playing with Barbis. So I stuffed the bottoms with little baggies of (long since expired) lentils. And a couple of them still didn’t stop tipping over, so I hot glued some canning jar lids to the bottoms.

Next thing I did was paint the taped parts in a little wood glue°. The Frog tape is great in terms of sticking to the cardboard (and lots of other stuff, tbh), and it’s great at sticking to itself, but it doesn’t always like to stick to some stuff – it doesn’t like to stick to wood glue in particular. So the glue layer (which beaded up  globbed – perfect for this part of the project) acted as a kind of primer. 
trees in frog tape

Once it dried to slightly tacky, I covered the whole thing in strips of packing tissue°° dipped (not drenched, just dipped and the excess squeezed off between fingers – expect to get messy while you’re doing this) in the glue solution. I let it dry a few hours.

trees in tissue

While it dried, I tore strips out of my junk books°°° and ran the torn edges along some ink pads. These pieces would become the “bark” for the trees. Once the tissue coat on the trees was dry, I started applying the book pieces to my trees like so:
trees in pages
and let them dry overnight. Birchy, right?

I figured I’d pick up some moss, spray starch it into puffs, and then attach said puffs to the tree branches, and Ta-DA, they’d be good to go, right? That would be lovely! But do you know how expensive moss is??? I do now. Enter the (budget-friendly) eucalyptus wands!°°°°

This part required an awl, a strong scissors, and a hot glue gun. I cut up the eucalyptus wands into littler pieces and removed the leaves from the bottoms to expose the stick part. Then working one “branch” at a time, with the awl I made little holes that could accommodate the sticks, put some hot glue on the holes, and slid the branches in before the glue cooled \o/
trees with leaves

I may still give them a little hair cut and add more branches to fill once we see them on the set (we build on Thursday), but all in all, I think they’re pretty good trees for the grade school production aesthetic we’re aiming for =)


*See for reference: my parents signed me up for softball. I spent a season trying, but not actually catching or hitting a ball. See also: a season of soccer wherein I mostly picked dandelions off the field while other players tripped over me. Clearly my brother was the athlete in the family – he could even catch a ball with a net on a stick! I was not, nor have I ever proven to be, anything at all like a lacrosse player or even a skateboarder. And with the company I keep, you would really think I would have learned to ride a skateboard by now. Damn this inner ear and its predilection for queasiness – I love me a 3-minute roller coaster ride, but I get motion sick sometimes even when I’m driving the car; I’ll never be an astronaut, much to my dissappointment. Also, every time someone tosses something to me and I catch it we’re both surprised.

**Which are kind of expensive. And hard to find.

***Indispensable. On so many levels – you may think it’s just green masking tape, but you would be mistaken. I use this stuff for all kinds of things that require temporarily sticking stuff to other stuff and later being removed without a trace. And for some things that need to stick to stuff for the long run, too.  Also, it’s great for painting, which is what its intended use is.

°I use a 1:1 mixture of Elmer’s wood glue and (warm) water for all of this.

°°The stuff they roll your breakables in at Pier 1 or Yankee Candle. You could totally work with torn up brown lunch bags too – the really cheap, porous ones will work best. I’m pretty sure you can get, like, 200 of them for $3 at the grocery store.

°°°The thrift store is your friend. Damaged books can be found there for a pittance. Some undamaged ones too, I’m sure, but I feel better about tearing up damaged books than I do about undamaged once. Also, I love an outdated dictionary for this kind of work.

°°°°Cat owners, please be aware: eucalyptus is toxic to cats. Make sure they don’t get up in your business while you’re working with this stuff, and that you wash your hands before petting them after working with it. Luckily, the smell was offputting to most of my brood, but the littlest was intrigued by the bouncy, wavy nature of the wands – she was a challenge. Never fear, tho’, no cats were harmed in the production of this set design.