Coppelia: The Girl With The Porcelain Eyes

A stop motion short about an eccentric old toymaker. Based on the ballet “Coppelia” by Léo Delibes, Arthur Saint-Léon, and Charles Nuitter. Produced as my MFA thesis project at the Academy of Art University. Below are detailed descriptions of the fabrication methods and a “making of” video documenting the evolution of the project.

Dr. Coppelius is made of a wire armature covered with urethane foam and liquid latex. His head is sculpted from epoxy clay over a foam base. His hair is made from felting wool and he has replacable mouth pieces casted from resin. Design, fabrication, paint and costuming by me with pattern assistance from Randal Metz.

Coppelia is made of a wire armature covered with urethane foam and liquid latex. Her head is cast in epoxy clay and opens up to reveal clockwork insides constructed from found objects and miniature gears. A metal clock key screws into her back. Her hair is made from felting wool and her chair is sculpted from epoxy clay. Design, fabrication, paint and costuming by me.

The full set for Coppelia measures approximately 36" wide, 20" deep, and 20" tall. It consists of furniture pieces constructed out of wood and epoxy clay, and a combination of handmade and found or purchased miniature pieces. All final paint and detailing by me.

The work table measures approximately 8" wide, 5" deep, and 3.5" high. Kiersten Obenchain assisted by weathering the table and adding a vise. The centerpiece is an animatable ballerina musicbox prop sculpted out of epoxy clay. The miniature key was purchased through a scrapbook supplier. Madow Tsai assisted with sculpting the base structure while I sculpted the embellishments and ballerina. The lantern, toolbox, jar, metal bits and gears were premade. Wood crate, hand drawn diagram, and final paintwork was done by me.

The back wall of the set consists of a tool cabinet and a workbench which measures approximately 7.5" wide, 3" deep, and 3" high. I constructed the cabinet, unfinished marionette, and workbench out of balsa wood. The broom is made from wood, wire, and rafia. A small number of tools are purchased miniatures while I sculpted the rest out of sculpey and armature wire. The handsaw measures approximately .5" wide and 2" tall.

Dr. Coppelius’ sewing corner was my favorite area to build and dress. Materials used are a combination of wood, sculpey, epoxy clay, thread, and ribbon. The sewing basket and items on the upper left shelf are mostly purchased miniatures or found objects, while the rest of the items are handcrafted by myself with some assistance.

The notions shelf measures approximately 2.5" wide, .5" deep, and 3" tall. Emily Rasmussen sculpted the spools of thread and ribbon. I built the dressform out of armature wire and sculpey while Kiersten Obenchain applied the aluminum metal straps.

I sculpted this Singer style sewing machine out of sculpey, epoxy clay, and balsa wood. The table measures approximately 4" wide, 2.5" deep, and 3" high, while the machine is approximately 2" wide, .5" deep, and 1.5" tall. The stool and tomato pincushion are sculpted out of epoxy clay. Dr. Coppelius’ Pince Nez style glasses are made out of wire and clear pvc.

The armoire which houses Coppelia is hand cut out of basswood and measures approximately 6" wide, 6" deep, and 14" tall at its highest point.

This video documents the roughly 30 week process of constructing my stop motion thesis at the Academy of Art University.