In the early Autumn I was approached by one of the researchers on BBC's The One Show. They wanted to create a fun Christmas feature and were aware of my passion for creating rather unusual bespoke and novel sets for wildlife. Through a series of discussions, we came up with a plan and I couldn't wait to get going!
I was keen to create a set-up for the birds, as well as for my mammal box... so basically build a set that the birds would be able to feed from. With all the Christmas markets cancelled this year, a German Christmas market was my challenge! I start with some sketches and a Pinterest board. Research is essential to create a scene that looks authentic.
From this research, I start to draw out what has started to form in my mind. It's then onto the Internet to see what I can buy in 1/12 size dolls' house size. Luckily, just about ANYTHING you can get in full size, you can buy in 1/12 size! It is pretty amazing!
Within a few weeks, I had purchased all the bits I needed to build two sets; one as a toy stall and one with food and drink.
The next stage is to experiment with layout, before finally glueing everything in place....
The main structure for the stalls were painted and covered in wood-effect laminates... it's great fun! I also need to be able to dispense food. This is usually the most difficult aspect of such designs. I found some feeders designed for budgie cages and had an idea about how I could decorate them to look like part of the stall....
Once I am happy with the design, I start glueing everything into place and the scene starts to come together!
Final touches include little Christmas trees and fake snow!
I was also building the Christmas mammal box alongside this project. This was a bit easier. I had the idea of doing. Christmas rooftop with a chimney attached to the roof and connected to the entrance. I had an image in my mind; the mammals emerging from the chimney! I used a plastic roof that I had bought from a shop selling kit for pigeon fanciers.... I think they are used for nesting pigeons. I cut it to size and covered it with the 1/12 laminates that look like brick and tiles. I created a trough in the top, where I could put the food.
I created a small chimney and screwed it into place. A model reindeer, presents and fake snow completed the scene!
As soon as I was happy with the set-ups, I trialled them for a week, in situ, as this gives me a chance to see how the wildlife interacts with the space so I can see if I need to make any adjustments. I kept the One Show team up to date, with images and progress and I was delighted that they were thrilled with the images I was capturing. I needed to record some clips for the piece, which would be edited as soon as the team had been to film with me.
The team came and spent a day filming at the beginning of November. We completed all the filming in just one day, with a star appearance from my lovely neighbour, Hazel!
The piece went out on Monday 14th December on The One Show. I do not get to see the final edit, before it is aired, so it is always pretty exciting to see what they make from all the footage I sent them, as well as what was filmed on the day! I was really pleased with how they managed to cram a day's filming and a day's worth of my footage into 4 1/2 minutes!
You can see the piece , via iPlayer until the middle of January on the link below. I am about 3.36 minutes in.
You can watch these cameras, on my live streams until Boxing Day and I will be updating these YouTube collections over the Christmas period.
I hope you enjoy them!