Friday, October 11, 2013

Wendlyn at the Pumpkin Festival

"Wendlyn's Doorway"
This evening starts the 2013 Milford Great Pumpkin Festival. For lucky people like me, (aka, those setting up their booths in the town hall auditorium) we don our festival game-on faces tomorrow morning at 10 am and can't relax again until 8pm. I'm also there from 10-3 on Sunday. (Monday? I'm crawling under my giant fern on the balcony and falling asleep in a fetal position until Tuesday.) I never got to make my steampunk faery in time for this event - I just wasn't inspired enough by a storyline. BUT! I did create this cute little girl. For your viewing pleasure: "Wendlyn's Doorway."
Wendlyn is a bit of a ragamuffin, bohemian sort of gal. She started with an antique key, a couple of pieces of wood and some fabulous ribbon I found at Michaels of skeleton keys. Not being a huge wood-worker, my father went to work cutting and connecting the two boards to create a stand and backing for Wendlyn's portal to the realm of Faery. I created the door out of copper, silver and green clay, cut the keyhole by hand and -magic!- you can peek inside the keyhole to see the lush magical forest beyond. Want to see more? Well, Wendlyn is the keeper of the key to unlock it. Maybe if you ask her really nice...
Her skirt is half clay, half real ribbon and lace.
Wendlyn is also a special addition to The Silver Branch OOAK faery line because she is a teaching piece. I took pictures of her throughout the creation process (when I could remember to! Sometimes momentum is everything in sculpting). And I will soon be taking down the ridiculously stuffed fan art board in the hallway to post pictures and explanations of her creation. This way, I hope more visitors to Riverview Mill and my studio will understand how special these little faeries are because of all the work that goes into them! Here is one of the creation images.

Working to position her head. Forgetting to give them ears is one of my worst habits. Ears are so fragile when the clay is wet that it's best to leave them off as long as possible. I've sometimes had to rush sculptures out of the hot oven before they've cured after realizing they're missing their ears! I didn't forget this time. Once her head was positioned, she got two cute little pointed ears.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Pixie and the Bee

Sorrel the Pixie always loves moving the acorns the squirrels bury every autumn!
 Autumn has begun to command a presence in southern NH. Apple picking is phenomenal right now (thank goodness I never tire of apple crisp!) and the sugar maples are just starting to turn red in the wetlands - a harbinger of the changing foliage for all the rest of the forest. It's been slightly chillier, and I started thinking about a faery to represent Halloween for The Silver Branch. Last year was Ti'ree and her Venus Flytrap antics. Before that was Ebony the Witch and her frog prince in the cauldron. This year? I wanted to go steampunk but I'm not completely inspired on a story for one yet. So, I went for honey bee.
Mellifera the Queen Bee
Meet Mellifera. I feel a little egotistical having a faery so close to my own name, but when I looked up the scientific name for the Western Honeybee (the honey bee that is found throughout the USA and Europe) I discovered it was Apis mellifera. It's out of my hands! :)
This was before I painted the base black.
Mellifera's dress is almost entirely sculpted of polymer clay (need I say - no molds were used on her or her dress or staff or crown? That should be a given by now). I added a bit of gold tulle underneath her honeycomb underskirt and a little antique black lace to the sides of her dress to give her a little more bustle action.
My other creation, almost done on the same day, was Sorrel the Pixie. I came across his facial style while I was making Goblin King Pocket watches (yes, they tell horrible time, but no one seems to mind). The one thing I love about sculpting goblin faces is that there are no rules. You can play and color outside the lines, so it gives me lots of leeway to try out new faces and techniques with my old tools. You might notice which goblin inspired my little Sorrel. I'm probably going to make a whole line on Pixies now. They're too cute to sculpt just one.
One of my Goblin King Pocket Watches - the one that inspired me to try one of the faces on Sorrel.
Sorrel in the garden.
Sorrel in the forest

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Goblins tell horrible time.

"The Goblin King's Pocket Watch" sculpted September 2013. Yes. I've been obsessed with Labyrinth since I was 5. Pretty sure it colored my whole life.....
Goblins tell horrible time - at least that is the excuse I'm using for not updating the blog as often as I should. As usual, it's been flat out madness around the studio, and it's only going to get revved up higher as the holiday season starts to rear its unfashionably early head.
"The Mermaid's Cradle" Sculpted August 2013
 Normally, I would have a couple of new faeries to share by now, but it's been the year of custom orders for The Silver Branch, and very little time for the work I dream up on my own. I think I'm going to start changing that and making my own dreams a priority once again - cutting back custom orders to a quota per month. Since Branwen, I have really only made one larger sculpture to submit for your entertainment - this new mermaid, The Mermaid's Cradle
Checking on the baby... being part fish, I think mermaid babies should be called fry?
So tiny and cute.

The mermaid mother's tail is inspired by the black and white plecostomus.

(Sorry for the random formatting - sometimes I just can't get blogger to put the photos where I want them because of my page format.) So! I still have  - I think, so far - six more shows before the New Year. I'm hoping to have a special "Steampunk Faery" ready in time for the Milford Great Pumpkin Festival in October. I'll be sure to share her here when I do. In the meanwhile, I am trying to get a gaggle of pocket goblins, pumpkin gnomes and sgnome-men, and grumpy faced mushrooms ready for next weekend when I will be at the Canterbury Shaker Artisan Festival. And then there's Grotonfest the weekend after.... oh dear.... *runs away to sculpt some more*
wedding gnomes - this is just a few out of  177 to be exact
okay - not a sculpture. But this is a frequent visitor to my studio gardens and worth sharing with my friends - it's a Hummingbird MOTH. How cool and twisted and fae is that?!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Branwen the Shapeshifter

     Branwen may mean "Blessed Raven" in Gaelic, but Branwen the Faery is a fan of the magically iridescent bird, the grackle. As anyone knows, I'm a huge bird lover. Whether we're talking about my flock of parrots here in my home or of the birds at my feeders or the birds I spot on my hikes, I'm happy as long as I'm talking about them.
In folklore, faeries and birds are closely linked in many tales. There are stories of faeries who only appear to mortals as birds, stories of faeries that morph in and out of bird forms and stories of faeries riding on birds. They make great subject matter. I had sculpted Shaelin's New Nest back in 2011 in which the faery was kicking a little sparrow out of its nest. And before Branwen, I finished and sold Alula the Hummingbird Rider. It seemed only fitting that I create a faery shapeshifter with her grackle regalia.
Branwen started this time as a sketch I made in my journal... rare for me to try to conceptualize on paper first really. Did it help? A little. It was hard to imagine what her arms would be doing if she was kneeling or how her left foot would be positioned underneath her or where her ankle would move to in that position. Odd stuff a faery sculptor needs to know, you know?
Branwen's necklace is really one of my own that I chopped up just for her! Lucky faery.
She kneels at just about 4 inches tall. Her wings are sculpted of clay then blend down into faery wings. All her feathers are black but shine with iridescent shimmer of blues, browns, greens and violet like a grackle. Her helmet is a stylized grackle's head (stylized because grackles do not have long plumes off the backs of their heads like her helmet). Her dress is made entirely of clay. The skirt blends upward into a "downy" top of clay that is blended and streaked into her flesh to make it appear one with her form (which I suppose, technically, it is!)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dannon's Dragon

Dannon's Dragon
No one knows better that pet ownership is a such a great responsibility as Dannon, who decided to raise a dragon as his pet. He had enough problems when the dragon burnt his slippers, ate his newspaper and flew right off his leash. But now that the dragon is looking to start a treasure hoard of its very own – starting with the Faery Queen's jewel - Dannon is starting to think about keeping a pet hamster instead.

Well balanced to stand on its own.
Dannon's Dragon is completely hand sculpted without the use of molds. The sculpture started with a glass gemstone which was fashioned into a birch base so that it would stand on its own. The little red dragon was sculpted and cured first using polymer clay, hematite and mica. After that, an armature was created out of steel and aluminum for Dannon's form. The armature was drilled into the birch base and sculpting began with his body. His armor and clothing were also hand sculpted out of clay and a touch of paint and mica powder was added to accentuate the metal of his mail. His hair and hand made wings were added. The whole process took just about a week to complete. 
How can he say no to this face?
I'm bringing Dannon and his ambitious little pet to the NH Renaissance Faire this weekend, along with Alula, Meeka, Willow and a bunch of gnomes! :D

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hummingbirds, Blueberries and Faery Gardens

"Alula the Hummingbird Rider" Alula sits at just over one tiny inch tall
Aside the wings and chain, it's 100% clay

I've been so busy with the studio, teaching classes and getting ready for my first show of 2013 (The New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, May 11th, 12th, 18th & 19th in Kingston NH - be there!) that I came back to a new blogger format. Serves me right for being MIA. Anyway! That annoying chest pain problem is steadily declining and I've been all out busy sculpting to get all these faeries, mermaids, dragons, gnomes and goblins out of my head (it's growing loud in here) and to get stocked up for the faire.
"Alethea the Blueberry Faery" - 52 hand sculpted and powder dusted blueberries! Trust me... 52.

One of the most exciting aspects of my studio is the potential for the garden I've always wanted to plant! I've been eying sun loving herbs and flowers I could never before plant on the balcony of my east facing apartment. Bliss! But I can't do any of this until after the faire, so I've been daydreaming with little indoor gardens.
Check out my teacup garden, containing a weeping fig, baby's tears, and of course I had to add a couple of my sculptures. :)
All planted in a 10" round teacup planter. :D
Thaddeus - quiet and a great gardener.
I love sculpting goblins. They're pretty nasty in Faery, I'm told, but goblins in The Silver Branch studio tend to be quite endearing little tykes. To the left you see Thaddeus, my resident garden goblin. He waters the baby's tears when I'm not there at night. Why do I love sculpting goblins in particular? Unlike faeries and mermaids, dragons and gnomes, there really isn't even a remotely wrong way to make a goblin. One could argue there's not wrong way to make a faery, but you try telling people that 3 eyed moss creature you made in 4th grade is a faery and watch their eyes. Whereas, you can sculpt anything and it'll work for a goblin.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Niamh and Cameron - the last faeries of 2012

"Niamh" (pronounced Neev)
For those who know me in the human realm, November and December has become a frenzied time of year. I can feel the water gaining momentum in October just after the Pumpkin Festival. I try to ignore the upcoming eddy as I enjoy the falling leaves and earthy feel of the month. Then WHOOSH! November! Show season mayhem! Over the edge of the rapids I go. This past year, I had a show every single weekend and no time to breathe, sculpt and enjoy my art as much as I set out to do in the start of this whole sculpting adventure. In late december, I reached the bottom of the falls and was a little worse for the wear with a chest inflammation due to stress and a minor injury that actually prevented me from sculpting and working in the studio. Even now, I'm still recovering - which anyone who has come to visit me at the studio only to find a note on the door will attest to. I'm taking that as a lesson to never book myself so tightly again. Sculpting and my health became secondary to the business side of the equation. What a difficult balancing game this is and it's so easy to tip the scales!

Okay - you can put the tiny violins away now. I am quite happy with how 2012 went otherwise. I moved into a new studio and opened it as a shop as well, taught some fun classes, made some awesome new creations and met some genuinely great people I would have never met if not for this magical path. In late October, I even squeaked out some new faeries and mermaids before the waterfall got me. They never got a blog shout out as far as I remember, so here they are! I can't wait to get back to sculpting again!
Niamh, like Mabon, is another wetland faery. Niamh is a bright faery of the edge of the wetlands where the trees meet the water and reeds. Her best friends are the dragonflies and damselflies that taught her how to fly when she was young. Sculptural-wise, she is in my top 3 favorite creations (Finn and Truffles of "When Pigs Fly" come in #1 in case you're wondering. That was such a tough but rewarding armature!) Niamh's armature is only held up by a thick steel wire in her left leg. Her right foot does not touch the clay oak leaf below her. I wanted to give the impression that she was running across falling leaves while flying her her dragonfly friend. I also tried something new with Niamh - her mouth is very small, so it's hard to see, but she actually has teeth!
you may have to enlarge this to see her 2 front teeth in her mouth.
The colors of the oak leaf contrast with her wings, giving her a more vibrant appearance.
"Cameron's Cake" was another faery based around a found object. In this case, a cute little cake cloche. The story goes: Cameron spied as I baked this cake. He stealthily watched as I cut a slice. He crept closer as I put the slice on the stand. But before he could take the cake, I snapped on the cloche! He tried for hours to lift the glass. Looks like poor Cameron has fallen asleep trying! The only thing not hand sculpted is the glass stand and cloche. Even the cake and doily underneath is clay.
"Cameron's Cake"
Poor Cameron has fallen asleep.

Good enough to eat. This cake is about the length of the palm of your hand.