The 2016 winners of the Weta Workshop Costume and Film Section were Natasha English + Tatyanna Meharry, sisters from Christchurch, New Zealand, who wowed Sir Richard Taylor with their piece Baroque Star. They were awarded a two-week internship with Weta Workshop and we asked them to report back on their eye-opening experience.
Weta Workshop: Week 1
Wow! Here we are at Weta Workshop. The lovely Ri welcomed us at the airport and took us off on a ‘wee’ tour to where we would be working and staying. Our home away from home for our two-week placement is a lovely recently renovated house on Mount Victoria with a spectacular view of the basin and water.
The first day is a meet-and-greet with the team, followed by the all-important health and safety briefing – because Weta is a huge workshop with lots of different departments this is quite comprehensive.
So off we go into the weird and wacky world of Weta Workshop.
Amazingly we are assigned to work in ‘hostile’ territory on a TOP SECRET project, very exciting! However, this means that there is absolutely nothing more we can say… or is there?
We can definitely say that the teams we’re working with are some fantastically creative and skilled people.
During this first week Tatyanna is reintroduced to an old friend, “Mr Loom”. The loom is a newly acquired piece of foreign equipment Weta purchased especially for the top secret project. Fortunately she knew exactly how to work the beastie and with a few tweaks we are able to set it up and show the team how to use it. By the end of the week, three metres of top secret fabric have been woven and we think the team are genuinely amazed that the process can be so quick. It’s great to be able to help and teach a new skill that they had yet to master – when they already have an repertoire of extraordinary skills. Tatyanna has sparked a need to master a new, exciting and highly addictive new machine of making madness!
All the items that we are working with are completely experimental, one-offs and prototype objects and as such we have only been given a little bit of direction and then are left to get creative. Natasha went on to work in the casting area – alongside another welcoming team of wonder-makers! She was shown how to cast with resin, which was left clear or dyed, then inlayed with various materials; Swarovski Crystals was definitely the favourite, sparkles, sparkles and more sparkles… en masse this is another addictive material!
All the team members are so thrilled with this new top secret project, it has been incredible and inspiring to see everyone busily making extraordinary and out of this world items… All we have to say is watch this space for what’s to come from the world of Weta!
Weta Workshop: Week 2
It’s Week 2 and we’re back into TOP SECRET territory. This week we are getting into all the colours of the rainbow; time to meet the dye room. We are settled in and then left to our own imagination to cook up a witch’s brew of magic.
The fabric that Tatyanna had woven in Week 1 has been given a new look, and earlier she prepared different warp threads, which promptly went into the cauldron of Technicolor. In between us making some quirky one-off unique objects, Tatyanna managed to weave a further two different cloths, demonstrating different techniques, to keep up with the ever-evolving brief from the designer and producers. It’s interesting to see how much further refining goes into the experimental items we’re working on. The Weta team is undeterred by the lengthy process, in fact they really revel in it! We are fascinated and impressed to observe how much time and effort goes into even the smallest amount of detail.
Next we continue to work with more colours, however this time it is Natasha, buried in feathers galore! She was given bags of beautiful gradient dyed feathers and created an ombre item that the team couldn’t stop petting. Flo, our team leader (and the mistress of all things ‘feather’), was tickled pink by the new fluffy critter that was created.
One of the many interesting observations we made was the process in which an item was taken from conception through a prototype and to completion. The resources here at Weta Workshop are only limited by your imagination and the team is constantly exploring new ideas and methodologies, that under normal conditions, would be difficult to achieve due to resources and possible skill limitations. The workshop is an impressive resourceful machine in more ways than one.
Although we were only at Weta for two weeks, and would love to have been there longer, it was a fascinating insight into the creative world of production, designers and makers. Thank you kindly to the whole team at Weta Workshop for welcoming us into your world, we thoroughly enjoyed working along side such a talented enthusiastic team of people.
Best Natasha & Tatyanna
Photos provided by: Weta Workshop