kinetic chapel

Last preparations
25 Nov 2011
Last preparations

Today is animation day. We decided to go with the dresses that are more similar to the original sculpture (calmer colours, less decorated) rather then the ceremonial dresses. The dolls are now getting ready for the big day to come!


The hair of Mary has just been hairsprayed
Dolls are undressed for the last touch-ups of the dresses
We went for the more conservative colours
Yes, Marys head is still drying!
Geo, Monica and Chiquis oing last adjustments
We are almost there!
Hairy stuff
24 Nov 2011
Hairy stuff!

Santa Ana's hair is covered with a *manto*, so it is only Mary's hair we need to worry about. A whig was bought in Oaxaca and Monica started applying it on Mary's head. Monica worked and worked with the hair, combed it, cut it, hairsprayed it and she was not very happy with the quality.

She decided that real hair is better. It took a bit of convincing: "You have so much hair... it will not be noticed...."


The synthetic whig
A sceptical Monica
The cutting of real hair - sizing it up
believe it or not, these scissors were better
That was that!
Santa Ana monitoring it all
The Return of Juanita
22 Nov 2011
The Return of Juanita

Clothes need to be made for Santa Ana and Mary. Luckily... Juanita is able to work with us again! Last time we had the leasure to work with Juanita was in November 2009.

We deciced to make two versions of the dresses. The decorations of the ceremonial fabrics are a bit too big for the dolls. Church dolls are usually around 1.30 m and our dolls are 51 and 36 cm high.

The conundrum is: which tradition to follow? Dressing the dolls in ceremonial fabric (starch colours, heavily decorated) or to make dresses that resemble the orginal statues (calm colours, discrete patterns)?

Juanita and Karin
Georgina can't keep her hands off some painting work
These are the first layer of the ceremonial fabrics (the overlay hinted behind)
Dress designers at work
Juanita measuring the dolls dressed in ceremonial dresses
Juanita and Geska putting on the manto
Buying far too much fabric
21 Nov 2011

I went to the store and showed the image of Santa Ana and Mary. It appeared that there was an entire section of ceremonial textiles for dressing up Virgins, Madonnas... I over-estimated my Spanish and ended up buying too much fabric (the expensive, ceremonial ones). Even though he tried to sell as much as possible to me, the guy seemed to take fancy and whispered to me: "I am just writing down one meter of this... and not more than 2 meters of this one"). 


the ceremonal fabric for Virgencitas
Another ceremonial fabric for Virgencitas
Skin tones and dresses
21 Nov 2011

The next layer of paint is adding skin tones. Monica and Armand are skilled painter. Geska is getting to work with preparing the dresses.

Monica and Armand at work
Skin tones added
Geska getting started with dresses
Santa Ana's head drying
Monica shaping the facial features of Santa Ana
The fabric
First painting - the foundation
19 Nov 2011

Preparations for painting the head. Wish you could feel the smell of cedar wood and paint!

Head on a stick
José inspecting the next head (Virgin Mary)
Santa Ana and Mary
The head of Santa Ana with foundation paint
The head of Santa Ana with foundation paint
Designing arch and chapels
19 Nov 2011

Remember that we had the opportunity to influence how the future welcoming arch of Zegache would look like? An offer from the Presidente of Zegache that we promised to get back to in a week.

We decided upon a shape that mimicks the facade of the church. The cupolas on the sides are taken down and put in front of the arch as chapels!

After that we started preparing some green tomatoes for the feast!

The basic shape of the arch is the front of the church - minus the cupolas
The chapels are basically the cupolas brought down in front of the arch
Green tomatoes
Eyes, hands, torso and the rest
17 Nov 2011

The visible parts is the head and the hands - the feet are not visible and the body is covered by clothes. The torso requires a female shape and the lower part of the body supports the dress. 

Brown glass eyes for Santa Ana
Che working those hands
Comparing the proportions of the dolls
Little prank with the hand-head
It is quite difficult to carve out such small fingers
Lao concentrating on his work
Puppet makers in making
16 Nov 2011

Hardly a couple of days have passed and the assets for the puppets are starting to get real shape! Lao is doing the head of the patrona and Che is working with the hands. Christian will prepare the lower part of the puppets which are fixed (means no animation, no walking that is). 

I am preparing the joints using the classical steel balls + plates + rods system for maximum flexibility and precision.

The artisans have never worked wit animation puppets and their work with figurative shapes (cherubs, faces) is recent. What talent!

The head of the Patrona is taking shape
Lao is a highly skilled wood carver / sculptor working from the image
Christian will make the lower half of the dolls
Puppets and the joints
Puppet makers at work
Chiquis working
Che carving the hands
First meeting with el Presidente
14 Nov 2011

When we mentioned the idea of making a kinetic chapel in Zegache (a chapel powered with solar energy displaying an puppet-animated saint) to Georgina, she immediatelly approved of it with enthusiasm. The kinetic chapel would make a clear contribution to the community - bridning the big gap between traditionals and progressives - which is exactly what this projects is about.

The modernization process of Mexico is a truly interesting story. The conflict between the (individualist) liberal-secular State and the (collectivist) traditionalist Church has been particularly complex in the indigenous areas of Oaxaca. 

As any building projects we need permits and Georgina immediatelly set up a meeting with el Presidente. It was a long meeting (2 hours).

It ended up with us being given the opportunity to build 2 (!) chapels at the entrance of the pueblo and to make a suggestion for an welcoming arch!

Next meeting was scheduled in a week. 


The office of el Presidente
Meeting concluded with enthusiasm!
Immediately off to the spot where the building plans can be realized
El Presidente showing us where one of the chapels can be built
El Presidente and other parts of the board
Work with puppets begins in Zegache
14 Nov 2011

Finally we are ready to start our work with developing animation puppets with the artesans of the community workshop. They are highly skilled wood carvers (some of them being real sculptors I would point out) and what we have to decide is the scale of the dolls in order to know how big heads and hands to work with. Smaller is more convenient although it makes the carving harder.

We decide on a 51 cm high Santa Ana and 36 cenimeter high Virgen Mary.


Chiquis and José pondering on the task to come
Georgina in a frame
Chiquis and Katja getting ready for some work
Dulce nombre
14 Nov 2011
Dulce nombre
Dulce nombre

Sweet name of Christ (Dulce nombre) is the second patron saint of Santa Ana. Yes, it was pointed out for us once el Presidente suggested to build 2 chapels. 

I headed back to the church to make a photo of him for later use. We will be animating this dramatic figure and what a dramatic posture and promising movements - it is as if this motif begs for some motion!

Deciding on a saint
11 Nov 2011

We came to Zegache this time proposing the project to build a kinetic chapel. An entire edifice devoted to the veneration of a saint as well as the practice of solar energy that would keep the whole thing (literary) in motion.

While working with the practicalities of our building plans, a puppet animation would be developed at the community workshop. This day - the 11/11/11 - we decided that it had to be Santa Ana - the patron saint of Santa Ana Zegache. Simly referred to as "la Patrona". She is also the patron saint of horseback riders, housewives, grandmothers, cabinet makers, unmarried women, women in labor and miners. 

A beautiful image of mother and daughter (Virgin Mary) reading together - a picture of self-education and mother-daughter-love.

The sculpture of la Patrona and la Virgen in the church
Day of the Dead installation?
Intimacy between mother and daughter
Syndicate content