Who would have guessed that only 2 buses, a tram, a train and a mini cab away from my Oxfordshire doorstep I could step into one of the world's leading puppet making companies and arguably the most exciting and innovative talent pool in the North West of England?
Last Sunday I began my 5.5 hour journey up north to spend some time making miniature props in the fantastic workshops of MacKinnon & Saunders.
If you're not familiar with their work then imdb them at once. Their impressive portfolio includes fabrication of puppets, props and special effects for such films as 'Frankenweenie' (2012), 'ParaNorman' (2012), 'Corpse Bride' (2005), 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' (2009), 'Coraline' (2009) and so forth. Aside from their exquisite work in film and commercials they've worked on popular childrens' programming - 'Postman Pat', 'Bob the Builder' and 'Fifi and the Flowertots'.
I was nine years old when I first saw the Oscar-nominated short film 'The Sandman' (1991) - a stop-motion horror which stills inspires and amazes people today. Produced by one of the co-founders of MacKinnon & Saunders, it set a standard of brilliance which they have clearly maintained.
...So, as you can imagine, I was in heaven being in their magical miniature world! The talent there really was exceptional and the energy and enthusiasm for their beautiful creations was infectious.
Take a look below at this little snapshot of some of the work of MacKinnon & Saunders...