First, a brief summary. Darwin, originally named Hybrid, has a head that was my first attempt at sculpting cat heads. To me, he looked more like a cross between a cat, a rabbit, and a horse. However, he was still destined for greatness in the form of a new animal spirit messenger. You can read about my process in creating his body and how he got his new name here.
When we last saw Darwin, he looked like this:
Feeling a little naked, I think.
I left some of the wire uncovered thinking that I might change the angle of his arms and legs. However, I quickly learned that in order to do just that, I should not have covered his shoulders or neck or hips. Repositioning him now would be like moving a super model bound tightly in vinyl. Ain’t gonna happen.
So, I covered the exposed wire and started to make Darwin’s clothing. Yes, I made clothes for Darwin from polymer clay. I traced his trunk, arms, and legs to make patterns and then “cut” the pieces from the polymer fabric.
It was starting to feel like an art doll version of Project Runway in my studio. Only I didn’t have Tim Gunn telling me to “make it work.” (Though I did hear him in my head….)
Here is the finished version of Darwin. More information on this piece follows the pictures.
After Darwin was clothed, I realized the area between his waistline and his crotch was rather large and blank. (You could say he has a very high waist.) So I sewed a sporran for him to wear around his waist. A sporran is Scottish Gaelic for “purse” or a pouch. It is a traditional part of Scottish Highland dress, usually worn as part of a kilt ensemble. It functions like a pocket on a pair of pants.
Darwin’s sporran is made from felt with whipped stitched edges and a tiny button sewn on the flap to secure it.
In Darwin’s hands is his field notebook. The notebook opens and contains scribblings and pictures of the curious creatures he has found on his travels.
Darwin’s base is made from air dry clay applied over a box. The air dry clay went on a bit lumpy and I used this to my advantage to create a “dry earth” surface. The air dry clay was painted with several shades of acrylic paint and sealed. The wild flowers (star leaf species) are polymer.
Darwin is attached to his base with a small amount of apoxie clay. Including the base, Darwin is 13″ tall.
Inside the box I placed the following quote from John Muir. Mr. Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist and explorer. He is credited with promoting the cause to make the Yosemite Valley into a National Park. He founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and served as its President until his death is 1914.
This grand show is eternal.
It is always sunrise somewhere:
The dew is never all dried at once:
a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising.
Eternal sunshine, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming,
on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn,
as the round earth rolls.
Note: It is only as I write this that I realize the curious connections in this piece. When I made Darwin’s pants, I knew they had a creative plaid pattern. That is what prompted the idea for the sporran. When I gave him the name of Darwin, I knew he would become an explorer. That prompted the field notebook. As the piece came together, including the “dry earth” base, it all felt very serendipitous. I chose the quote from John Muir because I knew he was a great supporter of nature and the environment. It was only when I looked up his biography that I learned he was Scottish. Ironically, Charles Darwin was English, a naturalist, and studied at the University of Edinburgh.