Prize giveaway: pocket watch pendants!

Hi all! Inspired by the Etsy seller whose merchandise I previously blogged about here, I decided to make a few “Christie text” pieces of my own. I offer two samples here for a prize giveaway– a 24″ ball chain necklace with a magnetic-opening, glass-faced pocket watch pendant, and a small pocket watch key fob. Both feature text from pages of a real vintage Poirot novel (sorry, book purists). The larger pendant measures about 1 3/4″, by the diameter of the silver circle, and I’m including a few charms that you can keep in or take out as you like– a key, a tiny enameled moustache, and five faceted emerald beads. The text of the key chain pendant is covered with a protective acrylic dome. The winner gets BOTH. Fun!

pocketwatch1

pocketwatch2

pocketwatch3

To enter this prize giveaway, all you have to do is share one of your favorite Poirot photos, here or on Twitter (in reply to contest tweet). Do this any way you like, even if you can only link to one you find online. It can be from the television series or something else– artwork, an original Christie cover, Albert Finney, whatever you’d like. Next Saturday, I will draw a name at random from the entries. You’ve got one week!

Good luck!  🙂

pocketwatch4

Grow a moustache… win a painting…?

Another Monday, another chance to win this miniature framed painting:

framedminipair

This time it’s easy… all you have to do is reply to my contest Tweet on Twitter with a photo of yourself… having grown a moustache.    🙂   The manner of moustache is up to you: real, fake, digital, artistic, bizarre, WHATEVER. One entry per person, and on Friday I’ll pull a name out of a hat. I want to see plenty of facial symmetry, people!!  🙂

costume1

The Adventure of the Cheap Flat… random thoughts, and a giveaway!

Some assorted musings about the episode The Adventure of the Cheap Flat…

*  When he’s working with his friend, Poirot seems to be eternally useless at inconspicuous burgling, whereas Hastings is awkward but ultimately successful– see The Veiled Lady and Wasps’ Nest for confirmation. On his own, Poirot has more subtlety!

cheapflat13

*  I do have a few little script quibbles. The overblown American stereotypes I find annoying. (And football metaphors along with everything else… really?) Also, the alteration of the plot for television makes Poirot to spot the Italian-American outside the block of flats for some time before the man enters the building at night. Great for dramatic tension, sure, but since he knows the guy’s purpose, WHY doesn’t Poirot just approach this man in daylight and explain everything in advance, rather than waiting for him to break into the flat and risking someone getting knifed?? I know the blasted little man wants to be dramatic and all, but really! In the book, he knows the “swarthy stranger” has been asking about the tenants but doesn’t know where the Italian is in advance, so he has to wait until the man breaks into the Robinsons’ to apprehend him and explain things. And the story flows naturally from there. Television-Hastings really deserves the chance to give Poirot a smack upside the head for all this…

cheapflat6

*  When you have an assortment of nerdy interests, you find strange and unlikely overlaps between them everywhere. For me, I watch The Adventure of the Cheap Flat and I think of George Harrison. The “Night Club Music” in the episode in question is credited to one Neil Richardson. Presumably this includes the music we hear at about the 26-minute mark, when Poirot visits The Black Cat to interview the crooked Bernie Cole. As he wanders through the nightclub, the jazzy riff puts a song into mind by George Harrison called “Not Guilty”—  originally written and recorded, though not originally released, with the Beatles.

cheapflat15

The night club music has this riff of F#-D-C#DAC# that reminds me awfully of the similar E-G-AGDB riff in “Not Guilty.” It’s not plagiarizingly similar or anything… but I just can’t not think of it… and it’s just really funny that the title of the other song is “Not Guilty.”   😉  Offhand I can’t think of any other cute and clever connections between the Poirot universe and George Harrison himself, other than perhaps the fact that one of Suchet’s earliest film roles was The Missionary, with Maggie Smith, and a Handmade Films production. Harrison founded the company in the late ’70s, the same year in fact that he was recording “Not Guilty” for his well-received self-titled album.

*  Okay, now we come to the giveaway. Since today’s post is about Cheap Flat, I’ll be offering this miniature painting in a cute little black wood frame to the winner. The canvas itself is 2.5″x3.5″ and the frame makes it just a little bigger. The scene is from this episode, the moment when Poirot is explaining to a bewildered Hastings that he aims to take a flat in the same building as the Robinsons. ***UPDATE***: No winners were forthcoming this week, so a new contest to win this painting is up at this post here.

framedminipair

 

Bon chance!

Poirot and Hastings, from Murder on the Links – painting

Most of my fan art whatsits are quite small (what would one do with a roomful of large, Poirot-themed canvases?) and sketch-like. The biggest exception would be that set of 39 miniature painted books, which are small but finished. When faced with the prospect of donating a piece of Poirot fan art to a good cause, however, I thought it would be best to make something new which could be just a bit bigger than usual and a little more polished.

This is an acrylic painting on a gessoed hardboard panel, 12″x12″. It is almost the size of a record album and has a strangely similar feel.  🙂 I used the same image from Murder on the Links that I used for the miniature book cover– I love the bright, impressionistic feel of that particular moment. My own tendency is to smooth out brushstrokes in my paintings, but this time I tried to maintain a bit of that sense of impressionism in the greenery of the background.

watercolor1

The shelf.

One can’t have 39 miniature books just sitting loose, so the idea came about to make a miniature shelf for them. The enterprise began with a simple foam board model. From there I made measurements to ensure sufficient room for the books, including a space for a little “book holder” piece by which a single cover could be displayed outwardly, room for individual spacers so the books wouldn’t need to touch, and tiered shelves so each book could be more easily removed. A monogram piece was also sketched out– based on the design on Poirot’s slippers! I sent all my drawings and measurements to my friends John and Eva, who have a laser cutter, and they made me a mock-up.

shelfbirch1

The next several weeks were a flurry of tweaking measurements again and again, re-cutting, trying (and failing) a few times to obtain the proper sort of walnut board for the finished product, but finally getting the pieces together. I love the little moustache that was added to the back of the book holder.  😎 Once the pieces were glued together, many small matchstick-sized bits of wood were carefully covered with red textured Velvet Paper, as were the shelves. The measurements for adhering the “matchstick” pieces had to be extremely precise. Here are some pics of the process…

shelfinprogressmontage

And the finished product…

shelfdone2

shelfdone4

shelfdone6

shelfdone3

Thus essentially ends the story of my miniature books, a project encompassing a total of about four and a half months. This set of miniatures isn’t in my keeping anymore. I decided to mail the whole lot off to London this past summer to a deserving recipient.

The painted miniature books (12)… The Grand Finale!

The last lot of three books share in common a solo Poirot in the middle of his dramatic “big reveal.” They also include two holidays, two quotes about the nature of truth, and two moments of unusually dramatic inferno-lighting.   🙂

This miniature of the collection of stories known as The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding includes an image from the corresponding episode “The Theft of the Royal Ruby,” an alternate title. The quote is from the title story. You may notice that when I took this photo, the white stripes on the spine of the book had not been painted on yet. Oops! I like the little Santa figurine on the mantle piece, and the evergreen garlands. Obviously we’re going for a Christmas-y feel here.

christmaspuddingmontage
Likewise, for Hallowe’en Party, I chose a festive pumpkin color for the book and an image of Poirot looking positively mephistophelean in the glint of the orange glow of firelight. This particular Christie story is one of maybe three or four Poirot tales where the villain is presented as a sort of satanic archetype, so I utilized the conceit for this little cover. I loved painting that bit of fire– and that silver fob! Like in the Death on the Nile image, that one bit of bling makes the picture glow. The quote is a great one, too.

halloweenpartymontage copy

Finally, Three-Act Tragedy. It was terrible trying to narrow down which image to use for the cover. There were gorgeous shots of Poirot with Sir Charles Cartwright in a garden panorama, and one pic I was very keen on of Sir Charles and Egg in the background drinking cocktails, with a blurred Poirot in profile in the foreground. That particular image seemed to sum up the book plot nicely, and three characters on a cover would have been great. But no, at last I was forced reluctantly to use this image. The stage imagery and the striking lighting made it too perfect for complementing the book title. I had trouble choosing the quote, too. There’s a marvelous Poirot quote about the observation of human nature in that book, but I ended up once again using a quote that reflects drama and stage trickery, in keeping with the story’s themes.

threeacttragedymontage

There ends the project of 39 painted miniature Poirot books, representing Christie’s full canon of Poirot. They took three months to paint. Only, it doesn’t really end there, because these little guys needed, I felt, their own custom shelf. And that would be a project of another month and a half. To be continued…!

booktower

thelotcropped

thelot2

spinescropped

thelot8

The painted miniature books (11)

I’ve got two little lots of miniatures left to cover. I’ll call this one “moments of truth.” What they share in common is a close-up of the title character in the process of making some startling discovery.

herculepoirotschristmasmontage

As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t want my miniature Poirot books to simply be a series of straight mug shots. That would have gotten boring in a hurry. But now and then, I found episode stills that featured a clear close-up of the character in which he was still obviously interacting with, say, a clue of some sort. Of course, the great benefit of using close-ups for miniatures is that the portraits tend to be a good deal easier to paint than if, say, the portrait is a scant 1/4″ across. The shots I used for these three miniatures fall into that category; for Hercule Poirot’s Christmas, the image is of Poirot having discovered the dead man’s missing diamonds.

sadcypressmontage

Sad Cypress is a wonderful book and lovely episode. The quote is a favorite one. The image chosen involves Poirot with the clue that turns the tide of the story: the thorn-less rose.

takenatthefloodmontage

Speaking of “turning the tide” (and Shakespeare quotes, which Sad Cypress is as well), the cover of Taken at the Flood also shows Poirot having discovered a formidable piece of evidence. He’s so delighted by his deduction that he doesn’t even seem to care that one of his hands is dirty.

Only three more miniatures left to document…  😉

The painted miniature books (10)

I’ll call this lot “Unlikely Sidekicks?”  🙂

The cover for After the Funeral includes Robert Bathurst as Entwhistle. The quote is typical Poirot.

afterthefuneralmontage

Cat Among the Pigeons is the Poirot novel in which the detective is most absent; it almost needn’t be a Poirot novel at all. (The fact that Poirot is insanely tiny in the shot sort of makes sense in that context.) The cover image features a scene where Poirot is addressing Meadowbank School, and it very nearly breaks my self-imposed rule of “if it couldn’t have happened in the novel, it can’t go on the cover.” I decided that Poirot could, conceivably, have addressed the school in some capacity, so I went for this shot after all. It was so hard to find a usable pic for this cover. I’d found a nice still of Poirot with the voodoo doll, but that’s totally not a plot point in the book, so that was right out. And the quote was hard to find, too, because of the lack of Poirot dialog in the book! Incidentally, the Poirot quote I did find actually sounds like a bit of an echo from a passage in the Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet. All told, a very tricky cover.

catamongthepigeonsmontage

Blue Train was full of beautiful shots and wonderful quotes to boot, so no problems there. I decided on this encounter between Poirot and Katherine Gray (played by Georgina Rylance). The still featured some lovely blue highlights that matched the color (and title) of the book, and Poirot’s outfit here is one of the very best I’ve painted. Loved painting those beautiful little lavender roses and the crystal glass as well. The quote is one of Poirot’s best and most memorable. Delightful miniature to work on all around.

bluetrainmontage1

The Clocks contains one of the rare first-person narrations by a character (albeit inconsistently) in a Poirot novel other than Hastings– in this case, Colin Lamb, played by Tom Burke. I admit I had no idea who this actor was, but when I first posted this miniature on Twitter, all these Tom Burke fans suddenly came out of the woodwork, which was all right. Lovely to encounter them.  🙂  The image here is sort of vaguely psychological, which I thought was interesting, and it reflects the quote. Whereupon those investigating are, as is usual when Poirot is concerned, interpreting things in quite different and contrary directions.

clocksmontage

I must be nearing the end of this collection of mini-books as far as these blog posts are concerned. Getting tired of them yet?  🙂  I just thought it might be a good idea to put a thorough record of what went into making them down somewhere.

The painted miniature books (9)

Here’s a set of four Christie covers that depict somewhat exotic locations…

Appointment With Death is set in Jordan, but was filmed in Morocco. In this still, a tiny Tim Curry and David Suchet contemplate an ancient text unearthed in the archaeological dig. This episode was full of so many incredibly gorgeous sets, locations, and shots that it was hard to choose a cover. But the unique lighting in this image made it the winner. It was incredibly easy to paint, easier than it might look. Even the tiny rosary is visible.

appointmentwithdeathmontage

Murder in Mesopotamia is another of Christie’s Middle Eastern archaeological digs, taking place this time in Iraq and Syria but filmed in Tunisia. On this cover I had to avoid Hastings, since he does not feature in the book but was written into the script. I decided on this marvelous shot of Poirot walking away from the camera beneath an arch in a dusty alley. The angle, coloring, and everything else about the image tickled my fancy. Poirot-walking-away shots are always fun, anyway.

murderinmesopotamiamontage

Death in the Clouds features a fair bit of action in Paris. Instead of an episode still, I ended up using this image that I think I spotted somewhere online, which (as far as I know) is not actually part of the episode, but looks good. Poirot, Eiffel Tower… what more do you want? I love his outfit here, too– wonderfully dapper.

deathinthecloudsmontage

Finally, I include Evil Under the Sun in this set of exotic locales, although the location is English– the Burgh Island Hotel off the south Devon coast. I watched through the episode to get a still for the cover and could not find ONE that I thought would work. The episode and story are fantastic (actually I think it might be my husband’s favorite episode), but again, I couldn’t use an image with Hastings, since he is not in the main action of the novel, although he is mentioned. And film-Hastings likes to hover over Poirot’s shoulder; in this episode he is particularly “mother chicken”-esque. I watched through the episode a second time searching for a shot. Finally, I cheated. I took a head shot of Poirot looking down from the hotel, and layered it onto a different background which included some of the landscape. In the end I was very satisfied with the result, and I think the cover ties in well with the chosen eponymous quote.

evilunderthesunmontage