Whatever you call him, the Gift Bringer of Christmas owes his existence and spirit of generosity to St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Nicholas' Feast Day is December 6th and has been observed in Russia for centuries where St. Nicholas was once known as Father Christmas. St. Nicholas is, also, a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church. During the Soviet Era, the celebration of the Nativity of Christ was forbidden. But, the spirit of St. Nicholas endured in the person of Ded Moroz, Grandfather Frost.
Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, came to Russia in the late 1800s, providing tthat country a counterpart to the Western, secular Santas.
Unlike the Western Santa Claus, Ded Moroz typically is a tall, slender gentleman with a long white beard. He would wear long, lavishly adorned robes. Often, Ded Moroz would be depicted in a costume very similar to a bishop's clerical garb; red Cossack, white lace surplice, long red cape with gold adornment and the tall, pointed Bishop's hat.
During the Soviet Era, Ded Moroz's robes were usually blue. His home is a log house in the wooded village of Viliky Ustyug, Vologodskaya region in northern Russia about 500 miles northeast of Moscow. Ded Moroz travels, of course, in a troika; a decorated sleigh drawn by three horses. He is assisted by Snegurochka (the Snow Maiden) who, it is said, is Ded Moroz's granddaughter. I may decide to sculpt Snegurochka at some future time.
Another difference between Ded Moroz and the Western Santa is the way he delivers his gifts. Ded Moroz does not slide down a chimney nor does he land his sleigh on roof tops. Rather, he visits only good boys and girls, door to door. Like Santa, Ded Moroz will not visit homes where the children are awake; even if they have been good all year long. It is, also, a common practice to leave out food for Ded Moroz, just like Westerners set out cookies and milk for Santa.
When I decided to create my version of Ded Moroz I chose to make him wearing a blue cloak and robes so his appearance would be set apart from some of the other gift-bringers I intend to make which are typically dressed in red. I also thought that it would be fun to paint a pattern on his clothing. I originally thought of painting the snowflakes on the lighter blue of his robes with the darker blue of the cloak but decided that they would look better painted white. I’m glad I made that decision as I’m pleased with the way they look and the way this piece turned out.
Because of all of the blue and white on this piece I wasn’t sure how or if I would use an antique finish on the completed piece. I normally apply a heavy antiquing stain usually walnut over the completed sculpture to age its appearance. I didn’t feel this piece would look right with the brown of the stain and was thinking I’d omit this step. I finally decided to mix a charcoal tint into my antiquing medium. The antiquing softened the white of the snowflakes on his clothing and added depth to his beard.
A friend of my son’s was at our house when I was working on this piece. He’s seen most of the completed pieces but had never seen one in progress. He said the completed pieces look like they could be made of plaster of Paris that someone had painted but after seeing how they look when I’m working on them was something else. He thought I should take pictures of the work in progress and include those pictures when I blog. I may do that at some point but not now.
I’m not sure what my next project will be. I have to make a batch of PMC before I can make anything. I do have what I refer to as a blank drying at the moment, but at this point that’s pretty much what’s in my brain. I haven’t decided who or what it will turn out to be.
Ded Moroz was the 20th piece that I’ve completed since I started sculpting on the 8th of January. Working with PMC is something I’ve done every day since. I don’t do much of anything else. After seeing what some of you have been doing with water colors and pastels, I’ve thought of trying to paint or draw again. I have pencils and water colors. I have acrylic paint and oil paint. I have all types of papers and some canvases, but none of these things are calling to me right now.
Maybe I'll just open a couple of boxes of those supplies and see if anything happens.
Thanks for dropping by.
3 years ago