noun: personification; plural noun: personifications
1. the attribution of a personal nature or human characteristics to something non-human, or the representation of an abstract quality in human form.
“The flowers waltzed in the gentle breeze.”
From Puppets to Personification; another project has landed. We all anticipated this day, and with a few clues given to us through Amelia we tried to piece together what our next endeavour could possibly entail. (I’ve been watching a lot of Dexter recently, I’m just now realising that I keep talking/thinking like a detective, oh). Through email, Amelia gave us a list of things to collect in preparation for the first day of the new project: Personification. These items included :
1. an inanimate electrical object
2. an inanimate found natural object i.e. stone, conker, fir cone, twig…
3. a brightly coloured vegetable
4. a rather more ugly vegetable
5. a kitchen utensil i.e cheese grater, tin opener, whisk…
6. a knife, a fork, a spoon and a teaspoon
7. a cup (if it has a pattern on it even better)
8. a balloon
9. a box of matches
10.a candle
11. any  other interesting miscellaneous inanimate objects
I have to admit, it was ever so fun running around Cardiff looking for all of these bits and bobs (and looking slightly insane).
Unfortunately, at such short notice I had to attend a finance meeting on the Monday, which was the first day of the project. So come Tuesday, Amelia sat down with me and filled me in on the brief and helped me to get up to speed with everyone else. And so I did!
The first part of this new project was to take out the items that we had found or purchased and well, get to know them a little more. I managed to find a very bulbous orange pepper, a very shifty ginger, three extremely hyperactive balloons, a box of whispering matches, and two very secretive candles (who only seem to speak under heated interrogation).
We were then given a sheet that had some sentences that focussed around the adjectives that were used. For example: Bashfully he announced the news to the forming crowd. The whole point of this exercise was to warm us up for the real thing: by taking our items and characterising them through these sentences, we were able to create some miniature thumbnail-stories and explore a different path of illustrating emotions through inanimate objects. This was a real eye-opener for me, and when I read what we had to do for this project, I highly doubted my ability. It seemed very difficult to give an ocean-scented candle a scene of brutal heartache, or set a splinter-riddled matchstick in a situation where his local village was in danger. But again, through inspirational talks and a sketchbook viewing from Chris, I managed to pull myself out of that pit of doubt. I actually really enjoyed making the miniature thumbnails- it was interesting to see how easily you can give an object such characteristics. For example, by slightly tilting the tip of the matchstick to the right, it suddenly becomes wondrous, innovative, questionable. Or tilt it downwards, and its sad, confused, lonely.
Once we had done this exercise, we then looked closely at the Brothers Grimm tale, Rumpelstiltskin. Our next task was to create worksheets for each character, through casting an object to each of the characters within the story.
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So after working with the characters more, It became a lot easier to explore the different emotions and actions that normal humans express daily. I really enjoyed exploring this through the worksheets: there’s something beautiful about watching a piece of paper fill up of life. Above are some examples of 3 of my worksheets.
I picked a matchstick to be the you, beautiful girl (who then becomes the Queen) as I wanted to portray her vulnerability, fragility and youth. Also, her character is also quite sneaky and courageous, and I thought the connotations of a match and the process of setting one alight is similar to a person who is pushed and pushed until their anger bursts out, which is when the girl finally stands her ground.
For the Messenger, I decided to go for a piece of ribbon. I really enjoyed illustrating this character as I was quite shocked at how much I could actually show true feelings through a piece of material. Ribbon is loyal- I came to this conclusion simply by the fact that I tie ribbon around my ponytail (it never fails to keep up my hair). I really like the thought of Ribbon bounding through the villages and forests in search of the mans name for the Queen.
And for Rumpelstiltskin I chose a crocodile gripper clip used to keep up hair. I liked this object for Rumpelstiltskin because in the story he doesn’t come across as that scary or intimidating, so I didn’t want to pick an object that held these features. However with this object it gives me the opportunity to make him threatening if I wanted too.
Finally we had to make 12 final thumbnails that tell the story of Rumpelstiltskin. From making the worksheets it made it a lot easier to create the thumbnails. Before diving straight into the finals, I did the 12 thumbnails small-scale in my sketchbook. I’m very glad I did this because it meant that I could trail out my ideas (yay)
We had a small crit with Georgina, where we were put into small groups. This was very helpful as I was able to get some (very helpful) feedback from both the other students in my group and Georgina herself. I took away some very structured advice from this crit: not to include text in my pieces and to use more tone. So I took this advice and did so.
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One thought on “pəˌsɒnɪfɪˈkeɪʃ(ə)n/

  1. Heather,

    what an enchanting and devastating solution tot he personification brief. You manage to make Rumplestiltskin all at once meek mild and helpful, mean wicked an dastardly and in pain broken and thwarted!

    Well done
    In this next project just start to think about how you can use different media to express yourself as well as different marks, to add to the variety of your images.

    Well done on a beautiful expressive storytelling project!


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