Today’s post isn’t about woodworking. It is about creativity and appreciating talent and beauty. To me it all ties together, as I don’t feel that one can be a designer without having appreciation for things around us. I don’t think it matters which of those things we notice. It may be a beautiful but simple piece of furniture. It may be a finishing technique that displays expertise and excellence. It may be an incredible box that we would think would be impossible to build. It may even be a certain style or texture used in a painting. Appreciation is something that is very personal and I look at it as an awareness of what it took to make something that we consider extraordinary. And I want to share something extraordinary with you.
About a year or so ago, while I was on Facebook, I noticed a post from one of my friends had made on the page of a sculptor named Ryan Macleod. With the post, was a picture of a beautifully detailed, whimsical dragon. I usually don’t follow others’ posts, but this dragon caught my eye because of its incredible detail and charm. I needed to look further.
I went to Ryan’s Facebook Page, and began to look through all the pictures of his creations. I was dumbfounded by the incredible amount of detail that he put into his pieces and I had trouble believing that he actually hand sculpted these pieces from clay. I had never before “known” anyone with such patience and talent, and when I saw how young he was, it just made it more amazing to me.
I then clicked the link to his Macleod Dragons website and I read all about him and marveled at his work. Such patience and craftsmanship! His creations are just beautiful.
In the months that followed, I got to ‘know’ Ryan through his Facebook page. He was very open to showing step-by-step pictures of his latest creation and I loved seeing the pieces evolve though the pictures he posted. I also learned from reading his posts that in August he was moving to India to get married and begin a new life.
In the late spring, I contacted him to see if he would be able to make a dragon for me. He had stated that he did commissions, and when further inquiring, I discovered that his prices were more than reasonable. I was very fortunate to catch him at a time when he was looking for some work to fill his time prior to his departure to India. After several discussions, we came to terms and he agreed to make a piece for me. I was thrilled!
I am quite a fan of the ‘Steampunk’ genre. I love the way that the mechanical meets the detail of the Victorian era. It is one of the rare times too that Keith and I agree on a style, as it seems we are so opposite in many different ways. While we have minimal decorations in our place, what we do have reflects that theme as with our huge clock we got last spring and the storage boxes which look like old books. Little by little we are adding (just a few) quality pieces to our theme here and watching it evolve.
I asked Ryan if there were any way he could make a ‘Steampunk Dragon’ and he thought he would be up to the task. I listed some of the things I liked which may be included, and I let his own imagination and creativity take over. What resulted was far more spectacular than I could have ever imagined. And while it turned out to be the last commission he would take on prior to his departure, it was in every way a piece that far exceeded my expectations.
Yesterday, after many months, my piece finally arrived. With all that was happening in Ryan’s life, things were understandably delayed a bit, but I understood, as I had moved here to Canada from Chicago a few years ago and I remember how chaotic that time was for me. My patience certainly paid off, as when I finally saw the piece up close it took my breath away. It is amazing!
I took some pictures to show you.
Ryan created an awesome ‘mechanical dragon’ for me:
The dragon measures about 11” tall. It is somewhat of a robot, and it is holding a young kitty in its arms and playfully dangling a mouse toy above it:
It is sitting on a stool on a ‘stone’ base, and every inch of it and every detail is made of clay. The only part that is not clay are the light bulb details at the back of the head:
It is hard to believe that all the cords, rivets, stitching on the cat and mouse, and even the key on the back are made from clay:
I just had to share it with you! I have uploaded several other pictures into my Picasa Album. I just wanted to share them with you.
I hope you get a chance to stop by Ryan’s website too and see his other extraordinary creations. He is an amazing artist and his talent is something that you don’t see every day.
I feel so fortunate and privileged to own one of his original pieces. It is something that I saved for a long time to afford, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
This was a huge extravagance for me. It is rare that I purchase something that is so purely for my own pleasure. I suppose that is what “art” really is though. Something that fills both the heart and your senses. I want to thank Ryan for taking the time to make this beautiful piece for me. I feel very fortunate to have it.
Besides the beautiful piece, I also feel that I have made a friend not only in Ryan, but also with his mom who shipped the piece to me after Ryan’s departure. We have become ‘friends’ on Facebook, and it has been wonderful to see Ryan find happiness and get married to a beautiful woman. I can only imagine what his happiness will inspire in his work. I can’t wait to see.
I hope you enjoyed seeing this and reading this story. While it isn’t about woodworking or painting, it is about how wonderfully universal art can be. Expressing ourselves through our art is something that we all have in common. Whether we are designers or making other’s designs, we all put our hearts and our souls into what we love to do, and the results is wonderful.
My own creativity is returning, and I spent the day yesterday drawing as I will today. It seems that the ideas are again flowing and soon there will be new designs to share with you all. It feels good.
I wish you all a wonderfully creative day. I hope you find joy in whatever you choose to do.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"