Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Is Here...

And with Fall, Winter is not far behind.  :::sigh:::  I sit here and wonder who spilled grease on the calendar.  How is it that days can drag, while years zoom?  And the older we get, the faster they go...with still so much left to do.

Speaking of which, I've decided to offer some of my "Mousechief Crew" tree ornaments as DIY projects in sets of 4.  I thought it might be fun, and folks might like to paint some up to their own specifications and color schemes.  the first two sets are now posted in my Etsy shop.  Here they are:

This is set #1 above.  It has the candle climber, North Pole, Bell, and Hickory Dickory mice.

Below, is set #2, which features the wreath napper, bedtime prayers, sleepy Willie, and "Grandma Mouses."

Set #3 is not yet posted, so I'll keep it secret a bit longer.  These darling little mousie critters average about 3" tall, and are quite detailed.  Regular readers will recall that week or so ago,  I wrote an in-depth article about the full process for creating these little fellows, as well as my carousel animal line.

I also make a Western-themed line, which are much larger statuettes, and excellent gifts for the horse lover in your circle of family or friends.  The overall process for making the Western items is exactly the same...with the exception of the size, and the fact that several are multiple-piece molds. 

A mulitple-piece mold has some or several of the various parts of the finished statuette poured separately, for if it were to be poured all of a piece, there would be too many angles for the piece to release from the mold without breaking.  So, these smaller parts are poured separate, and must be attached with a clay slurry mixture while the clay is still very wet.  This is done just as soon as the figure comes out of the mold. 

It can be very tricky, for often these parts are small, and they are fragile, and easily squished at the soft clay stage, or cracked and broken off at the green ware stage while it is being cleaned.  Here is one example of such a piece:

In this item, the Buffalo Soldier, the extended front leg of the horse is an "attachment," and as you can see, it is sticking out "in harm's way."  It is a very difficult item to clean in preparation for firing, withouth breaking this extended leg.  Imagine a few strands of raw spaghetti laid across your palm.  Now, if you were to close your palm, and begin to squeeze, it would not take much before those strands would snap.  That is a pretty fair example of how fragile raw green ware is.  You can literally crush it in your hand with little to no effort.

This bronco rider is even worse to deal with.  Not only is one of the horse's legs an attachement (the opposite side from that shown here), but the entire torso and head of the rider is an attachment, as is his left hand and arm.  His right hand is actually molded in with the mane of the horse, so it must be carefully aligned when the torso is attached.  This figure is a real "PITA" to assemble, and likewise very fragile and easily broken at any stage along the way.

These are much larger items,  each standing approximately a foot their added weight adds to the risk of damage.  There are even some items which must be carefully laid in a box of newspaper shred to dry, or they will either fall over or 'squish down' from the weight of the wet clay.

Like the much smaller mice, these are very intricately detailed pieces, and painting them realistically takes a long time.  For the most part, we just offer these in either the faux-bronze look seen here, or in a plain gloss glaze (we will do realistic painting, but must ask for a 3-week lead time, and they are about double the price of the plain finishes).  The plain gloss glaze finish is seen on the rearing stallion, below.  (Note that his left leg is one of those pesky "attachments.")

   So, happy Fall, and ... (I dread to rush the season) .. happy holidays.  Be well and be safe, each and every one.

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