There is something about polar animals that enchant me. I don’t know what it is. I have always looked at them as creatures of great beauty. It strikes me as odd because as a painter, I am quite fond of color. I love painting wildlife and big cats and playing with the shading and tones and making them look realistic. Most of the Arctic animals are various shades of white and grey. You would think that would bore me. However, I did once paint a snow leopard in greyscale and it was one of the most challenging paintings I did to date. It was fun though and I enjoyed the thought of giving the painting life and depth with such a limited palette. I one day aspire to do more paintings of Arctic animals. (Once again I am longing for those 48 hour days!)
But forgive me . . . I have to get back to woodworking . . .
As I said earlier in the week, it was time for me to submit something more to the magazine. My pool of projects with my editor at the magazine will be exhausted after the next issue they are working on (the Christmas issue no less! And I am proud to say that not only will I have two projects in it, but they are also going to run the shipping article that I wrote and submitted to them last year in that issue.) It is hard to believe that in the publishing world we are already looking at the January issue. And here the trees are just starting to blossom and the leaves are just now turning green again.
But my focus needs to be on those cold, dismal days of January when the hoopla of the Christmas season has passed and people are feeling the post-holiday let down and longing for warmer days. I wanted to do something that would perhaps bring a bit of cheer and fun to their lives and give them a positive thing to focus on during that bleak winter season.
Since I am one of those ‘odd lots’ that actually likes winter, I tried to think of what it is about the season that makes me so happy. The fact that there are no bugs is the foremost and most obvious reason. That goes without saying – especially after the bout I had with them so far this year. But beyond that, I enjoy the quiet serenity of the freshly fallen snow and also the beauty and grace of the many Arctic animals that I associate with winter. What would be better than to create a project which would focus on something so wonderful?
I have also lately been designing some simple nostalgic toy recreations. Although these are a far cry from my usual scroll work, they have been well-received, as they are something that tugs at our memories of days gone by and perhaps what we perceive as a simpler time in our lives. I have been thoroughly enjoying designing these things and I intend to do several more.
With all of that said, I think it was only natural that I would design a polar bear pull toy for submission to the magazine. It was, I thought, a natural choice considering where my thought process has been of late.
Although the bear is simple, making a workable design was somewhat of a challenge. When I create my designs, I try to do so using very limited tools. Many scroll sawyers have little more in their shop than a scroll saw and a drill press. This limits me severely as to how I construct things for my designs. While some of the pieces would be done very easily using a table saw, I realize that many who scroll saw don’t have that piece of equipment at hand so I find the need to improvise on things in order to make it work for them. Now that isn’t saying that someone can also revise my instructions and do things faster (and perhaps easier) using their own equipment, such as a table saw, but I want every project to be attainable using the least amount of tools possible.
Here is what I came up with:
He and his cart are made entirely of ash. I like ash because I used the Antiquing and Staining medium on him with white acrylic paint and I knew that it would give him that antique whitewashed look. I wanted him to look like wood, not just painted solid and the grain from the ash is a perfect amount of variation that I was seeking.
The only ‘real painting” that he requires is the dot for his eye and the black for his nose:
He is not quite finished yet, but very close. I choose to make snowflakes for the wheels to his cart. I thought that would be appropriate. I also need to attach the pull cord and perhaps have something around his neck, such as a blue bow. For the pull cord, instead of a bead, I may make another snowflake just to emphasize the winter theme, but as far as the bow or other ornamentation, I am not quite sure.
On the project that I posted last night (the grizzly bear) I had a collar of rusted bells around his neck. This seemed to fit in well with the nostalgic look of the toy. However, the more I look at Mr. Polar Bear, the more I like him just as he is. I toyed with the idea of hanging a single Swarovski crystal from his neck, and I may do so and post a picture of him like that for your opinion, but somehow I am leaning to having nothing at all around his neck and leaving him as is.
One of the things that makes these pull toy replicas so charming is their simplicity, I believe. I usually like to add a little bit of “bling” just for effect, but I am not sure if it will be overkill here or not. I am still debating on it. I will perhaps give it a try and post another picture in a bit.
I have found a great deal of pleasure in making these animals. I find that I thoroughly enjoy the simple shaping of the pieces with the Dremel. It is relaxing and easy and nice to think of how the animal will look when finished. Most scroll sawing doesn’t involve a lot of ‘building’ stuff. Much of it is plaques and such. It is very enjoyable to actually build a toy such as this. I am seriously considering doing a series of circus animals in the same fashion, perhaps make a circus train with several animals in tow. I am not a huge fan of the circus, (clowns creep me out) but if done in a subtle fashion such as this, it could be quite palatable. Just thinking out loud . . . .
In any case, there he is. I don’t know if my editor will even like him and accept him for the magazine. I suppose the important thing is that I like him. Once in a while, I like to make stuff with no one in mind by myself. Sometimes those are my best efforts. :)
Have a good day and thanks for letting me ramble.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"