Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bag of Bears

Two of my favorite things to sculpt are Santa figures and bears. I usually manage to include at least one bear with each of my Santas, in less of course he's a Nosse then there will be a mouse. This time when I started making Santa's bag of toys and trying to decide what toys to include I came to the conclusion that this was a bear run, or a Beary Christmas.

I sculpted this Santa in his newest incarnation. When I made the one in the last post he was one of three that I started at nearly the same time. There is one more of this type that I'm presently working on that's nearly completed, and perhaps the one I started the other day will be another since I rather like this latest look and hope you do too.

My son thought that I was making two that looked alike and he said, "I thought each of your Santas was going to be one of a kind." Well, they are. I never plan to make a duplicate of any of my pieces. There are no molds used for these and even though some may appear to be related, they will always be one of a kind. To show you what I mean about resembling one another here is the latest Santa with the one I showed you on my last post.

The one on the left is from before and the one on the right is the newest one. Brothers or cousins? Maybe.

This is the second figure that I've had wearing a belt, and I have to admit I really like the look. Also, this new look for Santa has fur only around the hat.

This is of course the bag of bears. All five bears are different from one another including the color of their fur.

It's a bit hard to see from the photo that there are three colors of stripes on his coat. Once again I was going for a muted look.

I hope you enjoyed seeing another of the gang. I'll be back in a few days with another one of the guys so feel free to join us.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 25, 2011


When I posted Santa and his coat of many colors my sister Marlene asked me if it was the one that I'd been painting in my mind. It wasn't, however this Santa is. I had told her how I'd been laying in bed and visualizing painting the patchwork on the cloak of a new Santa while we were having our morning coffee.

We were at their house on the coast getting in a bit of R&R . From just before 3:30 that morning I had been laying in bed imagining what this Santa would look like. I worked on the details trying out this and that and rejecting some ideas and making choices about what I liked and didn't like. Because I usually wake up earlier than I want to, doing this makes me lay in bed longer and I get the rest I need and sometimes if I'm lucky I'll fall back to sleep. Besides, it can be dangerous roaming around a strange house in the dark.

I started this Santa nearly two weeks ago but didn't get very far on it before we left to go to the coast. I'd just finished up six other pieces and still hadn't completely thought this one through. I hadn't even sketched it as I was working on several other pieces and this was still in the 'blank' stage and just a glimmer of an idea. Sometimes the idea for a piece just pops into my head and I have to hurry up and make it or it won't leave my mind and it's hard for me to think of anything else. This wasn't one of those pieces. The idea behind this one has been brewing in the foggy back part of my brain for a very long time.

Back in January when I first started sculpting Santa figures I decided I wanted to create a look that is expressly my own. There are so many elements that can be tweaked during the process of making one of these little guys. Noses and eyes can be made larger or smaller. Beards longer or shorter, curlier or straighter, thicker or thinner. The clothing can be made completely different each time, or a theme can be carried out from piece to piece. I like painting patterns onto the cloaks. The Russian artists who make the wooden Santa figures paint lovely scenes on the cloaks. I don't want to steal ideas from any of the figures I've seen while researching Santa, but have hoped to come up with a look that is my very own and no one elses, and something that will be appealing.  Is that too much to ask for?

Each one of the pieces I sculpt seems to provide me with inspiration while I'm working on it. I know this sounds a bit crazy but the truth is, my characters have nearly as much say in this whole thing as I do. They're like children in some ways. We guide and influence them but they'll be their own selves in the end.

Now that you realize I'm completely crackers I'll show you my latest effort in creating a special look for my Santas. This doesn't mean I'm not happy with the way the previous ones have turned out, they're all special to me but this one has some of the elements I've been working with on several Santas and a few different ones as well.

There's a touch of the Nossie in him, and he is dressed in one of my patterned cloaks but unlike most of the other Santas I've made, his is shorter and you see his boots. This pleases the male members of my family that have issued protests about Santa wearing dresses. I've tried explaining to them that he's wearing robes like a wizard not dresses, but do they listen?

Well, what do you think? I wanted the colors muted but don't know if I went too far. Nice boots, huh?

This shot allows you to see the nearly empty bag and the doll who is sticking out of the top.

This is one of the few I've made Santa without a collar turned up or a hood on the back of his cloak. I thought the belt would break up the long lines as would the patchwork but am not sure I succeeded because of the muting.

In some ways this Santa resembles the Nossie. Not around the eyes, that's for sure. As you can see, the Teddy bears just keep getting cuter and cuter. One of these days I'll start sculpting Teddy bears and nothing else.

So, what do you think? Am I getting close to having figures that are unique and are something people would want to have hanging around their homes for the holidays?

One more thing before I forget. Laura at Cobblestone Creations is having a terrific giveaway. Just click on the button on the right side of this page and see what's going on.
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Santa and his Cloak of Many Colors

When most of us think of Santa Claus we picture him wearing bright red clothing trimmed with white fur. His hat is red and his suit is red and he has black boots and belt and then there's that snowy white fur. I make figures of Santa dressed in red, but have never trimmed any of them with white fur. I have trimmed other gift-bringers clothing in white fur. Ded Moroz and his granddaughter are two examples. Some of my Nossie have white fur trimming on their clothing as well.

I do dress some of my Santa figures in red but not in the style that you may expect. I let my imagine take over when designing his wardrobe. I don't believe that Santa would have only one choice when he looks in the closet in the morning. I'm sure he likes variety in his clothing. He may favor red and perhaps even bright red, but I think he also has a selection of clothing in other colors too.

When I created the Santa I'm going to show you today, I decided that he might have a cloak in his closet that was made with patches of materials that were used to fashion some of his other garments. This would be his patchwork cloak, or his cloak of many colors.

This figure is 13 1/4" tall and 5 1/2" at the widest point. His cloak is a random patchwork pattern worked with shades of red, brown and green. The sleeves of his cloak are a medium brown and match his hat. He's wearing pale antique gold colored robes. The clover green toy bag on his back holds a Teddy bear, Jack-in-the-box and a stuffed lion cub peeking out of the opening. At his feet, tucked under the front edges of his cloak are a hound dog and a black faced lamb. The fur that trims his cloak and hat is a deep tan color.

After painting the piece I applied two coats of polycrylic sealer with a walnut stain for antiquing. As with all of my pieces, he is a OOAK sculpture made entirely from paper mache

As you can see, he may carry a bit of weight that his doctor might have advised him to loose, but he looks fairly trim in this cloak.

Even in a profile view he still appears quite trim and fit. I think he also must possess animal magnetisim. They seem to be drawn to him.

Hope you can get a look at the toys in the bag. I had a heck of a time with the Jack-in-the-box. It's the first one I've ever built and it doesn't even work.

This is his best side in profile. I was hoping you could get a closer look of the Teddy bear. I've made so many of them lately I'm actually getting pretty good at it.

Hope you enjoyed seeing another of the many Santas I feel compelled to make.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The answers to all you questions about EGG-POSTERS

The triditional Easter egg hunt has just become more difficult. Instead of the children hunting for bright or pastel colored eggs that look so much like small spring flowers tucked here and there they are now faced with finding eggs that have been disguised to look like other things. Is that a little bunny or is it an egg-poster? What about that baby duckling over there? Is that really a kitten or is it an egg-poster? Egg-posters can be disguised as anything.

I spend most of my time making figures to be used to decorate for Christmas as it is my favorite holiday to decorate for. I decorate every room of my home for this holiday and leave the decorations up for at least a month. I've never given the other holidays as much attention when it came to decorating . I love the colors of Christmas. I love the smells and the baking and shopping and the gift wrapping and the dinner and the visiting with family and friends. There's so much to love about this holiday. However it doesn't mean I don't do anything for the other holidays. I just don't go as gaga over them.

Next Sunday will be Easter. There was a time when I would decorate the house and make baskets for the kids and grands. I loved the shopping for or making special little treats to put in their baskets. I loved looking for the perfect clothes to wear for Easter church services, whether it be that special pattern and fabric or a store bought outfit. I loved the Easter egg hunts in the back yard where the kids and their friends would look for the eggs I'd hidden. I loved watching them search through their baskets looking for just the right peice of candy or watch them select an eggs I'd dyed. I loved the special dinner with the baked ham and all the trimmings and the fancy rolls and desserts. I loved it all. Now that they have grown past that stage of life, it's become a holiday that is only a special Sunday dinner.

I've decided that I should pull myself away from the Santa business to make something Easter related, but what should I make? One thought was to make paper mache egg shapes and then apply colored paper with mod podge, but since I've never been good with that sort of thing I didn't think about it for long.

Another thought was painting the egg shapes in pretty patterns, but quite truthfully, that didn't get me excited either. I needed to come up with an idea that was a bit strange and out of the ordinary and that's when my weird little mind came up with the Egg-posters. In case you haven't quite figured it out, they're eggs that are imposters. Get it?

There can be an endless list of possible egg-posters. I chose four to make. I started with the bunny as rabbits for some reason I'm not quite sure of are always present in one form or another at Easter. My favorite form is chocolate rabbits. I completed the bunny on the same day as two other projects I'd been working on but decided to get a few friends for him completed before blogging about him. I've been getting a bit of flack from number one son for waiting but what the heck, this is my blog, right?

Now something very strange has happened. Once again I've completed three pieces on the same day. This has happened two times in one week. I couldn't believe it when it happened the first time a few days ago, and I really can't believe I managed to do it again so soon. I guess this is bound to happen when you work on so many projects at the same time.

So, without further ado, here are the Egg-posters.

From left to right we have Bunny, Ducky, Chicky and Miss Kitty.

The duckling and chick are the shortest at 3" tall. As you can see, Ducky is sporting a 'duck tail'.

The bunny because of his ears is a w-hopping 4 1/4" tall. Note the cotton tail.

Miss kitty is not quite as tall measuring only 3 1/4" at the tip of her ears. She's well aware her ears don't match her body colors but they only come in black.

Wouldn't it be a hoot if these guys catch on? Can you see it? Me the inventor of a new Easter egg decorating technique? Sure, Egg-posters may not be as popular or as tasty as Peeps, but who knows what the future holds. They will never be as tasty as Peeps, but maybe they will be as popular.

Thanks for taking the time to visit. Have a great day.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Santa at work

Last month after viewing the post of my sister's seated Santa I made the comment that I would probably never make another seated Santa due to the challenges I'd had with my one and only earlier attempt. A while later I thought about that comment, and realized it sounded like I wasn't up to the task and I was backing down from something that was a bit tougher than my usual. I don't like to think I'm a wimp or afraid of a little rough going, so I challanged myself to make another seated Santa.

I've been working on this Santa just short of a month now and although it wasn't always an easy road to travel, I finally completed my journey. If you've been following my blog, you probably know that I work on several pieces at once. This medium requires patience as there are many times when you have to stop and let things dry or harden or whatever. Also some breaks are required to let these old eyes have a rest. I seem to like to include loads of detail when painting the cloaks and robes my figures wear not to mention the small detail work on the faces, and paper mache isn't the easiest surface to paint on. Since I've never been known for having any patience I'm forced to have pieces that are at different stages of completion so I always have something to work on.

My sculpting seems to be taking over the whole house. There's usually something in the oven, and I wouldn't suggest trying to eat it. I have more pieces sitting on and surrounding the drying racks in front of the small heater that I bought solely for the purpose of drying my projects while other pieces are sitting on my one and only available heating vent. I have more bits and peices on the work table and at the painting station that I've set up with several light sources as I have a very little natural light this time of year. Since I've only been doing this for about three and a half months, it's been overcast this whole time, I'm not sure the lighting gets any better when it isn't overcast.

So, back to the point I was trying to make, I have been working on this Santa a little here and a little there everyday over the last 26 days. I've stuck fairly well to my original sketch making small changes here and there during the process which seems to be the way I work. I knew I was getting close to end of our time together and wouldn't you just know it, I was reaching the same point with two other pieces.

The other day, I finished all three. I was shocked and dismayed. I had this huge decision to make. Which piece would I blog about first?

Would it be:

A. Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden

B. Santa at Work

C. One who must not be named (At least for now)

I selected Snegurochka to go first. She and I spent a great deal of time together this week. I'm going to miss working on her.

I'm also going to miss working on this seated Santa. As I feared, there were many ups and downs working on this guy. He is made over a full armature of wire, card board and paper that had to be left in place. I don't like this method but had to do what I had to do.

Santa sat on a over turned coffee mug for most of the time I worked on him. I had to decide what kind of a bench I was going to build, and what materials to use to build it and if he was going to need another piece of furniture to put his painting supplies on. I settled on building the bench out of paper mache clay over a cardboard armature. I made it wide enough to hold his painting materials so building a table could be avoided.

He's just finished painting the face of a hand puppet and there are some dolls sitting on the floor nearby that need features painted on their faces.

This whole piece is 100% paper mache clay with the exception of the paint brushes and the base which are wood. I used acrylic paints and walnut stain for antiquing and applied two coats of polycrylic sealer. Sitting on his 8"x12" base, Santa is 11 1/4" tall.

This is a better shot of his painting supplies and the detail around the yoke of his shirt and the silver buttons that attach his suspenders to his trousers. For some reason or another, this photo also makes Santa look more slender across the backside.

I'm not saying I won't ever make another seated Santa, but will say that if I do it won't be for a good long time.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden

Towards the end of March I introduced you to the Russian gift-bringer Ded Moroz. As you may remember  his granddaughter Snegurochka assists him in making his deliveries and I said I might try my hand at making her at some future time. I decided now was the time and I was in the mood to give it a try. I've been working on her all week along with two other projects, and believe it or not, I've finished up all three today. I've never done that before.

Since she received most of my attention I'm going to post her first. I'm really pleased with the way she turned out. I was a bit leary about painting her cloak as my eyes and nerves are still not over the snowflake pattern I painted on her grandfather's cloak. I wanted the two figures to resemble one another as much as possible as they're to be a set so her cloak has to be as elaborate as his. Her cloak has snowflakes too, but they're a different style than the ones I painted on DM's cloak. The blue I chose for her cloak is the same blue I used for his robes. Her cloak is trimmed with white fur aroung the edge of the hood and on the shoulders and the cuffs of the sleeves and around the bottom hem. Under the hood Snegurochka is wearing a fur trimmed hat that matches her cloak. Her hands are tucked into a fluffy white fur muff.

Like I did with her grandfather, I used a charcoal gray antiquing stain to make Snegurochka look like she came from an earlier time.

Well, what do you think? I know the snowflakes are not as fancy as those of her grandfather's, but her cloak is crushed velvet and some of the detail is lost.

I forgot to mention the pompom on the hood. You can see the snowflakes a bit better in this photo.

It's hard to believe she is only 9" tall. There's a lot of detail in something so small.

Standing with her grandfather and she isn't so impossing. Don't they make a lovely pair?

This is as close as I can get with my camera without it getting blurry.  I'm getting better at taking pictures with it, which is a good thing all things considered.

The other pieces I completed today I will share with you in the next few days. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Three days ago I posted the story of the Nossie.  Remember, Nossie sounds like mossy? That's when I introduced you to Snizzle Nosse and  provided all of the results of my research on the Nossie and how to identify a Nosse when you see one. Remember? They're short, have big eyes and a long beard and are vain and wear fancy robes and cloaks. They really are distinctive and I believe very attractive. I really love the little fellas.

One of my sisters, I'm not going to mention which one, expressed concern over any copy right infringement. She seems to think I might get into trouble posting this information on my blog.  Now, I have to say, I'm a  bit surprised that she didn't realize that the story was in my own words so I doubt there can be a problem. I might have done a copy and paste, but I didn't. I figured that it was obvious as my spelling sucks, and I'm hardly eliquent. I should probably come clean to all of you anyway and admit at this time that the Nossie are a figment of my imagination. I feel just terrible about this believe me.  I fibbed.  I'm a big fat fibber. I could claim senility as I'm really, really old, but I'm not that bad yet. My mind just works in a strange sort of way. Who else but a nut would claim to be Mrs. Claus? I fibbed about that too.

Anywho, I finally got the second of my Nossie completed. It's true. After much too much time spent painting I'm finally finished with Shnoz. As much as I enjoy making these little people, and believe me, I love making them, I'm afraid that the painting is going to require me to get new glasses. As it is, I'm already using a magnifier for some of it.

So,'s Shnoz Nosse

Remember that a Nosse can have feet 1/3 his height? Shnoz's is almost there. You can see the toe of his boot peeking out from under the fur in the front of his cloak.

The profile shot is one of my favorites. You can see why the Nossie are so vain.  Look at that nose.

Here's a close-up of his face.  If you think he looks a bit worried it's because he keeps hearing laugher following him around, but when he looks back there's no one there.

Shnoz can't see that he's got stowaways on the fur in the back of his cloak. Three little mice are cracking each other up with mouse jokes. You know how mice giggle over the dumbest things.

Shnoz is only about 10" tall, but he's full of charm and a really snappy dresser.

Here Snizzle has joined Shnoz so I could show you the difference between a cloak and robes. Snizzle is wearing robes without a cloak or coat. Cloaks are an outer garment, and usually have fur trim at the cuffs and the bottom and collar. As you can see, Shnoz has on his favorite cloak.

Before I part ways with you today, I told Rona at New Challenges I'd tell you about her giveaway. Go check her out.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

THE NOSSIE, (Sounds like mossy)

In my research of the gift-bringers I came across an obscure reference to a group called the Nossie. From the bits and pieces of information I've gathered, which I admit was very sketchy, I'm fairly certain the Nossie are distant cousins of the Nissie. As some of you may know, the Nissie are gnomes of Scandinavian origin, who live in barns and bring good luck to the farmers who take care of them. Unlike the Nissie, the Nossie live above work houses or factories located deep in the woods where they make toys.

The Nossie are from a realm refered to as Not Quite Middle Earth which is a week's journey by donkey cart North-Northeast of the outer borders of Middle Earth. There isn't a lot of information to be found concerning this realm as most historians want to discount the area as having very little historical value.
I imagine the people of Not Quite Middle Earth influenced the historians into this way of thinking.
The following is what I've managed to piece together concerning these very unique gift-bringers.

Unlike our Santa who can deliver gifts to all of the children in just one night, it takes many Nossie to deliver the gifts on the eve of All Children's Day. The families of Not Quite Middle Earth are large with many children and each family normally has it's own Nosse although some of the smaller families may share a Nosse. Since there is no shortage of Nossie this works out quite well. For your benefit I have compiled the following information.

How to recognize a Nosse when you see one:

1. On the average, a Nosse is less than four feet tall.

2. From all accounts Nossie are very vain about their appearence and insist on wearing richly decorated robes when making their deliveries. These robes are embroidered with threads spun from real gold, and fine jewels are worked into intricate patterns. All in all these robes can be very heavy and wearing such robes can be exhausting, but a Nosse wouldn't think of being caught making his rounds wearing anything else.

3. As a rule Nossie are not in the least bit graceful and often trip over their own feet which can be as long as 1/3 third their height. Also found in the reference concerning Nossie anatomy is the old saying, "He has two left feet" which was made after seeing a Nosse without his boots.

4. It's easy to recognise a Nosse by his very distinctive features which consist of larger than average eyes and nose and a beard hanging nearly to his feet.

5. Although it is sometimes said that a Nosse is all thumbs, that is not quite true as Nossie have only two thumbs per hand. Dispite having two thumbs per hand the Nossie are very talented toy makers.

From my research I have concluded that a Nosse could make better time and cover a greater distance and number of families if it wasn't for his vanity. The robes although very lovely are not appropriate attire for this type of work.

I have just completed the first of my Nossie sculptures. I'm presently working on another and hope to have it completed in another day or two.

May I present Snizzle Nosse. He is a OOAK paper mache clay sculpture standing 12 inches tall and is 6.25 inches at the widest point.

Notice anything on the top of his hat? As you can see, Snizzle has a tangle to deal with.

I'm pretty sure he can get it straightened out. Not positive, just pretty sure.

While he works on the knot, let's take a look at his robe. This pattern has plenty of emeralds, rubies and gold.

I hope you've enjoyed meeting Snizzle and will be back when his cousin Shnoz is ready to show off his new cloak.

Thanks for dropping by.