Are you a J.R.R. Tolkien fan? I am. I’ve loved the Hobbit since I was little. My older sister C.L introduced me to the books and read them aloud. C.L’s sixteen years older than me and served as a second mom. She’s also incredibly artistic both musically and visually with some engineering skills thrown in too. She was always doing something creative and despite the difference in our ages, she was patient and kind enough to include me in everything she did. We had a lot of fun together.
One year she was asked to design Hobbit scenery for a college play. It was an ambitious project for one petite girl to accomplish on her own. I remember C.L somehow got eight, 8’X6’ foot panels of plywood into our backyard, laid them out, did detailed pencil sketches, then got out the jig saw and started making very intricate cuts.
I was in awe at how quickly the sets took shape. The scenery was free standing cutouts of Hobbits and the shire. She blocked in large areas of color and allowed me to fill them in. She later went over everything and added beautiful shading and detail.
I remember walking around the set pieces in our backyard and feeling this amazing freedom of imagination. It definitely was a power moment in my life. I saw that with thought and effort you can make great things and I never forgot that feeling.
The scenery looked great in the play and my sister was resigned to seeing it cut up or used for something else…
Not so. A Renaissance fair approached the college and asked to use the sets. The Hobbit set pieces were a hit at a beautiful outdoor fair beside a creek under ancient oak trees.
Next a J.R.R. Tolkien convention borrowed the sets to decorate their gathering. After that a couple asked to use the sets as a backdrop for their Hobbit themed wedding. We lost track of the set for a little while but saw a photograph of our Hobbit set on the runway of a small airport with people dressed like Hobbits standing in front of it. To this day we still have no idea what that was about.
Out of college my sister was hired by Paramount Pictures as a set designer and went on to help create the Star Trek movie sets and many other movies.
So am I excited to see the new Hobbit movie? You’re damn right I am! The look of this movie and the breathtaking sets just take my heart back to a beautiful moment in time. I can’t wait to see it.