I seem to be on a polar bear theme my last few postings. I finished this guy a few weeks ago and I really am happy with him. So happy that I couldn’t take him to the craft fair. Now, there’s something I struggle with. Sometimes I keep pieces that I’m really attached to for myself. Maybe not forever, but until I’m ready to sell them. Sometimes it is because they’re the first one I’ve made, or I’ve made a few and its exactly what I am trying to achieve with the piece. I don’t want to sell them until I’ve made more, and I like keeping them around because they make me really happy. I often keep these pieces on “my side” of the counter and therein lies the dilemma. Sometimes (actually a LOT!) people ask about those items behind the counter. How do I say they are my favourites without implying that the pieces in the sales area are somehow not as good? I never put anything out for sale that I don’t feel lives up to my standards, so people shouldn’t feel that way. I mentioned that these pieces that I keep are what I’m trying to achieve when I make them. However, say I make 20 ducks and get them lined up….in a row…and then ask some friends to pick their favourite, (which I have done, but not with ducks…) they will usually pick different ducks. So if people who come in the shop get to buy their favourite duck, why shouldn’t I get to pick mine too? There. Dilemma solved. Isn’t that ducky? Hope you didn’t mind being part of my therapy.
The bear is about 14 inches tall. He was made by wrapping a flat slab of clay around a 2L plastic Coke bottle (Polar Bears really do like Coke!) to make the body. Then I added on his arms and bent the “collar” that stuck up around the pop bottle over and pinched it together to form the head. I add on pieces of clay here and there and also take out the bottle and push out from the inside to shape the body once it stiffens up slightly. Then I pinched the lower part together to separate the legs and added some clay in between. His feet are slightly exaggerated because I wanted to make sure he didn’t tip over. I do usually exaggerate features to bring out the “essence” of the animal. And I anthropomorphize. Yes, I freely admit it. I think bringing out the human qualities in the animals I make gives people more of a connection to both the clay pieces and to the species of animals themselves. If more people like polar bears maybe more people will help them! The bear is then fired once and glazed with a clear crackle glaze and fired again. I’ll write a page on the raku process soon so you’ll be able to visualize the rest of the steps.