Santa in Bronze


In just a week, we will open our little studio for a sneak peak before Christmas. We will mostly be open by chance or appointment for awhile. By next Spring when the summer traffic starts up.... well we should have everything all figured out... maybe!!

But for now, I wanted to make the studio look all Christmasy for those of you stopping by next week.... so why not have Santa be there!

I know he is a little more shabby than chic in this picture, but wait til you see what I did with him and two of his reindeer. At one time, this Santa was dressed in bright shiny Christmas colours and was a highlight of the Christmas shopping experience at Costco, about 10 years ago. Big and heavy, he proudly sat in his sleigh, pulled by two of his lead reindeer Dasher and Dancer. Sadly wind, weather, sun and storms took their toll on him and his crew. Slowly his finish cracked, the paint faded and the ugly resin base became more and more visible. But when I looked at him, I saw something different.

When we were traveling in Old Scotsdale Arizona a few years ago, we came across some beautiful life size bronze statues of children playing by sculptor Gary Lee Price. Beautiful life-size and whimsical bronze statues seem to be quite popular in Arizona. You can see Gary's work here http://garyleeprice.com

I never forgot seeing them. I loved his work. I thought this Santa could be re-imagined as a bronze statue and have a whole new life. So I got to work. First I carefully coated him with shellac, making sure to work it into all the cracks and crevices in his finish. I won't leave him outside year round, but I do intend to move him outside to the big deck in front of our big windows on the riverside when he is finished at the studio for the Christmas season.

Once he was all coated and dried, including the gorgeous real metal sleigh runners, I painted him thoroughly with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite and hit him with another round of shellac. Maybe overkill, but just in case I missed a few spots during the first go round, I figured it wouldn't hurt. At this point, he just looked like a big iron santa and not terribly attractive. But I kept on going.

The next step was to dry brush him with a layer of ASCP in Chateau Gray. That was when I started to see what I had envisioned, begin to emerge.

There was some wonderful detail in this Santa mold, and without all of the distraction of the damaged finish, and faded paint some lovely details began to emerge. Right now he seems to be rocking a "John Lennon as Santa " vibe. I used a dry brush technique and the wrinkles on Santa's forehead, and laugh lines around his eyes began to show. I loved all the curls in his beard. I then added some Old White to the Chateau Gray and brushed again, creating more highlights. One last layer of just Old White was added to his beard and the fur on his cap and coat and I had him! Using a little bit of Arles, on my brush with the Chateau Gray gave me just a hint of bronze on Santa's face and a little bit of contrast to the rest of the look. I decided his glasses needed a little reflection, so a little Old White helped out there to. What a difference to my shabby not Chic Santa!

I also choose to give him a top coat of Annie Sloan floor lacquer. Keep in mind that my stockist was very clear with me, that it was not designed for outdoor use. However, the finish is so durable, and I wanted a matte sealer, so worst case scenario it cracks and I have to redo it. We will give it a try and we shall see what happens.

The next challenge was Santa's reindeer. The lead reindeer had a loose antler and was missing an ear, so I had my work cut out for me. I had some E-wood left over from a repair on the logs in our log home, so I fashioned a new right ear for the lead reindeer. I certainly won't be winning any awards for my sculpting abilities, but it appeared to do the job and restore some balance to Dasher's appearance!

I left that for a day to dry thoroughly before I began the same process as with Santa.

The stands the deer are on, are metal and extremely heavy. Dasher's stand needs to be tightened up before he is ready for Prime Time! As before, as I began to dry brush the details on the deer, all of the lovely detail the Graphite paint covered up, began to emerge again as the lighter layers of paint were added.

What a fun little face!

Now "dash away, dash away all"! Won't they be fun to decorate with?

At one point Dasher had been decapitated, and when his head was glued back on, a steel rod was inserted to make sure he didn't lose his head before the the glue cured. Now that he is solid again, I removed the rod and will fill in his little wound! So there you have it, Santa and his reindeer, recast in "Bronze"!

Come see us November 24 and 25th for our early Sneak Peek of Epilogue Studio and Gallery in Browns Flat New Brunswick.

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