Tuesday, September 27, 2022


This little film is an adaptation of Leah Bodine Drake's poem "Changeling", which was published in Wierd Tales, in September 1942. She's quite an interesting character, with an equally interesting family tree that includes Sir Francis Drake, Davy Crockett, and Jean Bodin. Drake was a poet, author, editor, and critic, and she's probably best known for her first book, published by Arkham House, "A Hornbook For Witches."

It seems the book didn't sell all that well when it was published. Now, of course, it's a valued collectible. Among the poems in the book is "Changeling."

Some of her poetry is probably better known for being included in the record "A Hornbook For Witches", narrated by Vincent Price. Even this item is becoming something of a collectible, but you can find the whole thing uploaded on YouTube. 

So, what is actually a changeling? According to folklore, it's a fairy child placed in a human home. In my native Sweden it's the trolls who take a human newborn and replace it with one of their own babies. Why do they practice this custom? Nobody seems to know, but the general idea seems to be a lust for knowledge of human secrets, such as iron-making, butter-making, and similar things. The fairy or troll child is a kind of infiltrator, in other words. The changeling is mostly an unhappy creature, neither fairy nor human, which is something Drake touches on in her poem. My grandmother's uncle claimed he was a changeling.

My puppet changeling started life as a medium-grade Monster Clay sculpture. I made the head and the torso.

The sculpture was placed on a clay base and a dental plaster mold was built up around it.

I added tinted latex to the plaster mold to create a sturdy skin. This forehead was reinforced with a mix of latex and cotton. Other parts of the head were padded with strips of polyurethane soaked in latex. The body was padded with layers of soft foam.

The armature for this character is very simple; a humanoid frame made with aluminum wires and Polymorph thermoplastic. I used very thin polyurethane foam wrapped around the armature to build up the shape of the body. The very thinnest foam is square bits you buy in large bulk packages from a drugstore. They're washcloths used in health care. 

The head was attached to the neck part of the armature with thermoplastic. The foam padding was glued down to the armature padding with contact cement. More padding was added to smooth out the transition between latex skin and foam.

Here's the little chap finished and ready for animation. His eyes are plastic pearls painted and placed in silicone eye sockets on the inside of the head latex skin. Thermoplastic holds the sockets in place. The hair is patches of crepé hair - tufts of dyed sheep's wool. His nappy or loincloth is simply made from kitchen tissue paper dabbed with latex. His skin is painted with tinted latex, using a foam sponge. His claw-like nails are copy -or printer's paper dabbed with latex and cut in shape with small scissors.

The same night I finished him, I found the little blighter running around one of my bookshelves. Changelings, whatever their origin, are never up to any good!

In my film, you first see the changeling riding on a white owl. As I was a bit pressed for time finishing this film as a bonus for my Patreon supporters I didn't make an owl puppet, which would've taken a bit of time (longer than making the changeling). Instead, I found a couple of stock footage clips of a CG animated owl and stuck the changeling puppet on its back in After Effects. The background stormy clouds are two other stock clips I've used a number of times in my films.

The weasel and fox footage are also two stock video clips found on Videohive.com. Again, it's a bit of cheating, but all in the tradition of how movies have been put together through the ages.

The backgrounds are, unless something's moving in them, still images downloaded from depsoitphotos.com. Smoke, fireflies, and similar ethereal substances are also stock clips, usually placed on black backgrounds, leaving it up to me to choose the right kind of transparency for the layers in which they are placed.

I thought Leah Brody Drake's poignant poem was a good subject for a bit of animation. We all feel like outsiders at some point in our lives, and the changeling is one of those ultimate outsiders that human imagination has provided us with through storytelling, like characters such as Gollum or the Frankenstein monster. The poem also has a bit of nature romance to it, which I always enjoy indulging in.