Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


Had a Hair Raising day

Today we spent styling the cat wigs for CATS.  One of the other tech crew members, Marg, came over and the both of us spent five hours styling most of the wigs.  I still have a few to finish up.

I have to say I am happily surprised with how well they have cleaned up and styled.  When they were brought over they all looked the same with colour variations.  And many stank.  And the ears didn’t show.  I did a quick colour test on one to check the colour fastness and it appeared to hold so the other night I washed them all, then filled my downstairs bath with heads and wigs to dry.  My downstairs bath is like a dry sauna – there is a ceiling vent that blows hot air and can dry a wig completely in a couple of hours which is really handy when you wash wigs as often as I do.

Marg and I tidied up the ears, gluing the hair back onto the felt, trimmed them, gelled, moussed, sprayed, teased, combed, brushed and smoothed.  I also sewed in some brown hair onto Coriopat’s wig as the colours were not lined up right to match the costuming with his twin.

I think they look  pretty phenomenal!

Some of them show colours I didn’t know were in there, and once brushed and smoothed out there are actual patterns and markings in them.

Here are the finished results of our efforts today… a nice variety and assortment I think!

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There are still a few missing from the set – I haven’t seen Rum Tum Tugger’s wig yet, McCavity’s isn’t colour fast so I am just spraying it down with vodka and doing a comb out, and Rumpus Cat’s is being constructed with special effects.  And there a couple of others as well under construction.

I probably will be tweaking the ears on some of them – once I get them on the actors’ heads I will pin the ears up to better angles.

Here’s what my studio looks like tonight.

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Now I have to get the make-up organized and packed up.  I am doing a shopping run tomorrow for sponges and other supplies, as well as picking up another shipment of make-up as I underestimated the amount needed – once I started doing the tests I realized I was using way more product than I thought I would.  And a few colours weren’t quite right so I ordered some better matches.

The director said he will pick everything up tomorrow to deliver to the theatre so I’ll need to get my chairs and the larger stuff ready for him in the morning.

I really am so excited for Saturday’s rehearsal – it will be the first time for costume, hair AND make-up!

I’ll be updating on the show next week with photos of the final results once it opens!


CATS opens at the Douglas J. Cardinal  Performing Arts Centre at Grande Prairie Regional Collage on February 7, 2013 and runs till February 23, 2013.  Matinees on February 10 & 17, 2013.  Tickets available from Grande Prairie Live Theatre at 780-538-1616 or Purchase On-Line.


What I’ve been up to

I’ve been pretty busy over the last couple weeks with CATS make-up test sessions and working on the wigs and the usual stuff like housework, day-job, dealing with the insurance claim on the house damage, mom…

Most of the make-up designs have been done… just have a two coming tomorrow, and there are a couple of stragglers that I hope to get over here sometime during the week.

I have to get all the wigs styled/neatened up – they are all pretty messy.

The test process is proving very useful as I am working through the process repeatedly and improving things as I go.  For example – first day I used liner pencils for the black details but used almost an entire one on 7 cats, AND made a huge mess on my floor (on the drop cloth thanks goodness!) with the shavings from the sharpener… which I walked all over in bare feet, and ended up with feet covered in black make-up.  Next session I switched to a liner brush and used black cream make-up (which was my old stuff so I had to thin it out with some moisturizer to make it spreadable).  It worked well for the fine lines and points but was slow on the larger spots.  Then I switched to a small “shader” aka a rounded filbert… which is way better!  More coverage and I can do good edges with it.  Also, the NEW black  make-up doesn’t require the addition of moisturizer to be spreadable.

I’ve also been improving my speed – the first one took 45 minutes as I am designing as I go so the first one I was continually fiddling with and talking.  I am now able to get a simple, not too detailed one that doesn’t require blending, done in 10-15 minutes.  However, most do require some blending and a couple a lot of details.  And my crew has watched but not practiced yet – that will happen next Saturday.

I have to take the photos I’ve taken and make the charts – with front and side photos, a list of colours to use, and notes of things to watch for, for each of 31 cats (they added a couple more characters in…ack!)

I’ve had a few of the women asking about false lashes – I’ve told them they aren’t necessary as their eyes are outlined in black and I am actually drawing lashes on some.  I think there are a couple that still want them.  Which is fine – they just will be doing it themselves as we will not have time to fiddle with the lashes.

The photos are a bit muted due to the powder being used.  It will sink into the make-up once the actors start warming up and it will brighten up to how it looks in the pot.  There are also tricks to get rid of the powdery look – spritzing with water and blotting will take it off right away, but… I think the powder should be left as these guys are going to be doing warm-ups and the powder will be needed to soak up the sweat!

I am sharing this photo from this morning – another teaser!  You can’t see the make-up full on… so …  

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I love this shot!

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My new blender arrived!

I can be easily pleased.  My new blender arrived today.  I ordered it from Airmiles using my reward miles.

It is this model – Hamilton Beach Wave Maker Blender.  My main use for it is making smoothies.  I am enjoying one right now – a mango, banana, lime, peach, orange and grapefruit one.  The blender works great!  Has a “Smoothie” setting so I don’t have to pulse it or stir… the machine does it all!  My old Osterizer will be retired to the basement and used for other things.

I’ve been getting things from Airmiles instead of using the points for flying.  I got fed up with the damn milkruns they’d send me on… I mean, 35 hours to get to the UK???  17 hours to get to San Francisco?  It was ridiculous and after paying all the fees and taxes, it would only have cost a couple hundred more to actually buy a ticket that would get me there in the shortest possible time!  So last January I decided to start ordering things…

So far I have ordered a panini press, a convection oven, a video camera, a label maker and this blender.  I use the panini press and the convection oven a lot.  Chicken is wonderful cooked in that oven.  I haven’t even taken the video camera out of the box yet (and the box was water damaged by our current leak!)

I am really happy with the appliances I have got from Airmiles – completely free, no shipping charges or anything.  And they arrive promptly too.

Oh… and an update on my toe… the bruising has faded, it is still swollen but less so and it is hurting more now as I walk – I think because as it is less swollen it is therefore moving more and flexing.

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Tired but happy

Today I spent body painting.  Started at 8 a.m. finished painting around 4 p.m. then headed off to the location and spent another two hours doing a shoot.  Photographers sure pack a lot of stuff.

We’ve been planning this for months and now it is all done.  I am thrilled with how it all turned out!

First, here is my concept drawing for my “Steampunk Cyborg Biological”


And here are the shots I took in my studio before we left for the location:






And here are some I took at the location.  First one is Dee putting on her shoes once Chris was ready to shoot… we were in the bays at the Forestry yard.






These are just the photos I took with my little Sony Cyber-shot – no editing except for cropping and sizing (and watermarking!)  I can’t wait to see what Chris does with the hundreds he took!!

Now for the technical stuff for painters… I used all metallics for the gears – Wolfe silver and gold, Cameleon copper and gold, Kryolan Metallic copper and Interferenz copper and bronze, Fardel Cream White (until I ran out then I used Wolfe on the legs which I am not thrilled with, but it will be fixed in the final shots) for the robot and Tim Gratton Body Paint in black for everything else.  Not happy with Cameleon – this was the first time I’ve used it and it flaked off in large flakes once it was completely dry, both colours.  The Wolfe silver did the same but not to the same extent.  The Interferenz was gorgeous as always and stayed nice and smooth.

The robot side was one Pro-Shield nipple cover and steampunk side was one BodyFX robo-boob cover which I painted as I worked.  I ran out of Pros-aide (I went to use it and it was all dried up!)  so used spirit gum to apply both – worked excellently, but I had to use a bit of latex to seal the edges of the Pro-Shield down.


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Just a teaser!

Today I spent doing make-up tests for CATS.  It was orange  based designs today… calico cats mostly with a marmalade or two, maybe.

The director has an embargo on posting anything that gives away the costumes/make-up!  If you want to see it buy a ticket!

Don’t worry though, once the show opens I will be posting photos of everything!

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Oh damn… here are some bits of the make-up… I just can’t resist completely sharing some of it!

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Skimbleshanks (668x800) Mungojerrie (669x800) Demeter (698x800) Bombalurina (721x800)Jennyanydots (776x800)


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Ow ow ow ow… OW!

I have a history of smashing things on my body up pretty badly, below the knee particularly.

Both my ankles have been rebuilt – tore all the ligaments in my left ankle in high school gym class, surgery to reattach them.  Shattered the right ankle opening night of Charlotte’s Web – surgery, 7″ plate and 7 screws now hold it together.

Have/had Osgood-Schlatter disease in my right knee and now osteoarthritis.  Left knee is iffy too.

And… I have had my feet smashed and crushed many times by our horses as I wore thongs out to the barn in the summer and they liked to step on my toes.  Both little toes were broken repeatedly.  I also had a tendency to smash my feet into walls and corners as I walked by them.

Last night I had a relapse – as I was walking from the kitchen to the living room I smashed my bare left foot into the wooden claw-foot of an armchair… OMFG… the pain was intense.  I hit my little toe, HARD.  I was carrying a large water-glass and there was no way I was going to spill it so I kinda did this hopping dance, while yelling in pain, and tearing up.  I managed to set the glass down but couldn’t feel my foot at all.

It took about 10 minutes until I could manage to wiggle any toes.  And several hours until I could move the baby toe at all.  I still can’t bend the baby toe.

I was worried about work as I am on my feet my entire day, but luckily my shoes did not put any pressure on my toe and walking was fine.  I just have to be really REALLY careful not to put any pressure on the toe.

As I do like to take photos of bruises… here is a photo essay of “Shannon’s Left Toe” starting at 4 hours post-impact and ending with 24 hours post-impact.

Toe 4 hours

Toe 5 hours 1

Toe 5 hours 2

Toe 12 hours 1

Toe 12 hours 2
Toe 24 hours 2

Toe 24 hours 1


Monday …. blah

Mondays never really bothered me… but today I am meeting with the insurance claim adjuster on my lunch break to do some paperwork.

[sigh]… and dealing with starting the tear out and repairs.

I have to finalize my schedule for my CATS make-up tests for each character, finalize my crew and get their names in for the program, and get some sketches roughed out.  The director is going to bring over all the hairpieces for me as we will do the make-up to align with the colouring.  Then I will take photos which is what the crew will used during the run.

I also need to tidy up the hairpieces as they need to have the ears tied back up – they were all packed into boxes and got flattened so need a little TLC.

I have a full body painting scheduled for Sunday – need to finalize my drawings for that (as well as clean up my studio which is full of kit from the last show needing cleaning and all my Christmas stuff to put away.)

I took the tree and decorations down on Saturday while the roof was being cleared… well, I actually got most of them packed up while the roofers were sitting out in their truck smoking, but I digress.  I boxed it all up and took it downstairs but still need to put it all in my steamer trunk under the stairs.

And my bamboo floors need a proper cleaning… it takes a lot of elbow grease.  The planks are finished on the top surface, but not the sides, and it is not sealed so I can’t use a liquid cleaner directly one the floor.  Last time I used a microfibre pad that I dampened with vinegar and basically rubbed along the boards with a lot of pressure, back and forth, over and over, then hand scrubbed areas where there was “stuff” to remove.  Took hours – my entire main floor is bamboo.  I have entertained the idea of tackling this sometime this week…

And… why does the Holiday Yule Log still have its own channel?  It is January 7th for crying out loud!

And… I think I will start posting on alternating days… not sure if I could keep up daily posts!  I might have to resort to telling you about what I ate for breakfast and what I saw on the telly.  Is that a parrot?

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The curse of the snow

Those of you who do not live where snow accumulates over the winter have no idea of the hell that can ensue.

Two years ago we had to deal with MONTHS of repairs due to ice dams.  Now we are having a repeat performance – luckily not as bad, but… still HELL!

Friday the insurance claims adjuster, the restoration company rep and the roofing company met here in the morning to check the damages and come up with a plan.

The restoration company tore up my baseboards and put a fan in the room to dry it out.  They apparently detected moisture along the baseboard on the outside wall and the interior wall between the office and my bedroom closet, as well as the ceiling and attic.

The roofing company sent over a two man crew Saturday morning  to clear the snow off the roof before any repairs could be started.  Apparently the snow was covering and blocking the vents – which in past years I paid a roofing company to extend!  Obviously the snow pack is higher than the vents.  I’m going to get all the vents extended now – at least two feet above the roof!

Here are photos of the process so far…

First – Friday morning.  I had two buckets going as the strip of drywall tape had come off the ceiling so there were now two drips.

Two buckets

After the restoration company had a look – fan in the room and my baseboards laying across the back:

Work starts

Drying fan

Next, the roofers were clearing the roof and I opened the front door to have a look – you can see the snow falling in this shot!

Out the front door

These shots are of the deck… the pile of snow now huge from the extra dumped from the roof, the roof looking cleared and a shot from the office window …

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Piled on deck

Roof clear


And when they left this is how it all looked:

cleared deck


clear roof

Now the restoration company will do the tear out – rip out my ceiling, wall and dry things out.  Then the roofing company will deal with the repairs needed to stop the cause which I pay for, then the insurance company pays to repair the damages and make things the way they were.

The adjuster is meeting me on my lunch break on Monday at work to sign forms, etc.

I’m getting to be a real expert on the process.  Really wish I wasn’t.


Working designs

I know I’ve told you before… I paint myself for pretty much EVERY job where I am face painting.  It gives people an idea of what I can paint, that it is suitable for adults, and gets me a good parking spot.

These two are from Christmas parties I did last month… photos were taken after I got home and changed.  Sometimes I forget to take photos before I wash off the make-up… I did that a few times so didn’t get photos of all this Christmas season’s paintings.

These are both fast designs with minimal fussing – just slapped them on so I was painted.   My eyes are going and it is REALLY hard to see things close-up now, so I am not spending time on details or eyeliner anymore.  Just too hard to do without magnifying glasses and I can’t wear them to paint my face!



This I did for the End of the World Party – simple eye design that appeals to adult women.  I do LOTS of this sort of thing in different animal prints. Super quick and easy.


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Winter and Snow

This is my deck mid-December…

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The snow is OVER the seat on the bench.  My little apple tree in the background is buried over the lowest branch.

The snow has slumped a little since I took this as we warmed up after Christmas.

Christmas Day was -36C… so was Boxing Day… and the 27th we were -39C… as the daily HIGHS!!!!  Yesterday we were +2C as a high… roads are clearing, snow is blowing around in the wind.  They had to cancel the New Year’s Eve fireworks last night due to the wind.

It is because of the warming temperatures that I have the water coming in my office ceiling.