Thursday, August 4, 2016

My 2016 TBAI Gallery Piece

Time is getting short and the Teddy Bear Artist Invitational Show is just around the corner. The theme for this year’s show is Critters Galore . . . Bears and More. Today I am delighted to share my TBAI gallery piece I call “The Hideout”. With the theme in mind, please meet Robbie (the raccoon), Barney (the bear) and Freddy (the fox) in their hideout in the forest.

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These three meet here frequently for fun and friendship. It is a place deep in the woods that they have made their own. The slate pathway to their secret hideaway is known only to them.

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There you will see their homemade table is very forest friendly made from a slice of a fallen tree and their perches are rocks found here and there.

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This time their moms baked some homemade goodies for their adventures in the woods: a red velvet cake and some cupcakes – one for each of them. (My daughter Claire made them! Yum!)  These three keep their own special mugs for the ‘magical’ glowing tea in the hideout. Can you guess whose is whose?

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One of their favorite things to do is to roast marshmallows for S’mores. They are very careful about their campfire and keep a sharp eye on the flickering coals and the marshmallows. Everyone except Robbie. He let his marshmallow get a little too close! That’s okay though. They have some spares.

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When it gets dark, they have jar lights hanging overhead so they can stay late or sleep over if they want.

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These little friends simply enjoy each other’s company and if there happen to be some delicious treats too, all the better. Welcome to “The Hideout”.

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I hope you enjoyed your visit to The Hideout!  Thanks for coming!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Campfire – WIP TBAI Gallery Piece

One of the features of this piece is a campfire. In fact, you might even say, without a campfire, the fun factor would be dramatically diminished. With that in mind, I did some research because I wasn’t sure how one goes about building a small campfire that doesn’t look totally ridiculous.

Do you see the sort of white, sort of round, flat object on the right edge of this photo?

That is where I began. Actually, the beginning was creating that round object but I lost some of the photos from my camera not 15 minutes ago, so you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say the mold for this thing was a piece of aluminum foil and the substance I used was a silicon gel.

In order for it to look as much like a campfire as I could possibly make it, I thought it needed to glow and flicker. And in order to glow and flicker, light needed to pass through the ‘coals’ (i.e. the silicon circle). The silicon would provide this opportunity so the lights could glow but not-too-bright.  I wasn’t totally convinced my idea would work, but I had no back-up plan so I had to go with it.

I removed some of the moss in the area I wanted to place the campfire and, with Jay’s help; we wired three flickering lights in three colors: red, orange and yellow. I covered the lights with the silicon circle, added some flakes to give the impression of coals, and shortly after, glued everything in place.

Here’s a quick clip of the glowing embers:

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Afterwards, all that was left to do was to set the rock/stone border in place – we wouldn’t want the fire to get out of hand! – And make some tiny logs to add to the top.

As always, thanks for reading!

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

TBAI Gallery Piece – WIP Forest Floor & Path

After the grapevine arches part of this project, I moved on to work on the forest floor and path that I had envisioned. I was familiar with this particular task to a degree having used moss in several previous pieces and I always manage to finds moss bits attached to everything in the house afterwards!

There were a few decisions I needed to make, of course. First I had to determine the size and route of the path I wanted to include. Straight seemed a bit boring but I did have some inspiration to guide me as you will see at the end.

Here is right side of the piece with moss in place:

Another view point.

This photo shows the vines on the right side secured in place as well as the wood slab that will be a table.

Here’s an aerial shot of the pathway.  I thought it looked a little too regular at this point but I knew once it was filled in, it would look less so.

This is where I began to add in more moss and some tiny rocks.

I painted the slate pieces to look somewhat damp as they would in a forest.

Peeking in from above through the branches.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

TBAI Gallery Piece – WIP: Reservations

I’m back again with more WIP photos of my gallery piece for TBAI. I almost hesitate to share these photos because of the reservations I had at the time. Let me explain.

I had an idea for this piece in my head but only a vague notion of how to go about achieving it. Now whether I was right or wrong, I began to think the way to go about it was using a grapevine wreath. It was easily obtainable, inexpensive and I thought I would be able to manipulate it in a way that would serve my purposes.

I will describe the next step because I failed to photograph it. Sometimes I think so much about the process I forget to take pictures. I needed the vines to be bent to a certain size arch. After much research and thought, I decided that soaking them overnight in the bathtub might be the ticket. So for a day or two, we had the vines from an unwound grapevine wreath submerged in the bathtub. I live such a weird and ‘exciting’ life.

Then after determining the exact size I needed, Jay hurriedly built me a box in which I could dry the vines. And there they sat and dried for a number of days.

I began to attach them to the base one by one using whatever method was appropriate for the size of the vine: glue, screws, wire. It was a crazy-making process.

Not only that, after having invested a lot of time and effort, I thought it looked really, really bad. I mean really. Nothing at all like what I had in mind.  What to do? What to do?

I decided I had to stick with it, hoping that eventually it would morph into something not quite so disappointing. I had hopes that I would be able to turn it into the vision I had to begin with.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos of Sebastian recently.  He was trying out his new float in the pool near my son’s house in sunny Florida.  His analysis: excellent.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TBAI Gallery Piece – Mushrooms WIP

Here are a few more WIP photos for my 2016 TBAI Gallery Piece. The subject: mushrooms. I don’t know where I got this thing I have about mushrooms but I choose not to question it. I just go with the flow. And the mushrooms – well, my collection has – um – mushroomed?

I have a lot on hand – a big jar full of them in all sizes. It’s my ‘go-to’ place for mushrooms.

I decided they would be just the right touch for this project, so I started out by seeing what size or sizes, I would need. Here I have set up the unpainted ‘rocks’ with a large mushroom. And what’s the first thing I noticed? That those spots had to have been painted by someone in a big hurry. That would never do. Out with the sandpaper to sand off the unfortunate spots.

Then it was time to bring out some mushroom colored paint – sort of a creamy, off white, mushroom-y color for the stems and a not-so-shiny-not-so-bright red for the tops. I painted a lot of different sized mushrooms.

After that it was time for some new spots. I procured some new paintbrushes at the Philadelphia show which worked perfectly. If there were a lot of mushrooms, there were even more spots!

Now with the rocks painted and most of the moss added to them, I was able to add the newly painted mushrooms to my scene.

More to come shortly. Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Next WIP Photos of TBAI Gallery Piece

This project, like many I embark upon, had times when I was waiting for something to set or dry or cure. And when that is happening, I sometimes find myself at loose ends. “Now what do I do?” I prefer to be making progress so I find another element to work on in the meantime.

That’s when I decided to make these. “What are they?!” you may ask. I did wonder if I had gone a little off the deep end.

Yeah, I know. They look like white blobs. And in a way, they are at this stage. Got any ideas?

How about now? No? They looked like this for about a week or two. They are made from paper clay and the larger ones took forever to cure. So, in a way, I traded waiting in one area for waiting in another.

After they cured, I applied paint to them. I think there were about 4 or 5 different coats to get them looking like I wanted. Here is how they appeared when I was finished painting. Does this help identify these objects in any way?

So you say they look like a bunch of rocks? If you did, you would be right! I spent quite a bit of time making rocks. Who in their right mind does THAT? Where’s the logic? Why not use real rocks? Two reasons. First, I take into consideration the final piece and I did not want it to weigh a ton. Real rocks like I wanted would have added quite a bit of weight. Secondly, there was no guarantee that if I went in search of rocks that I would find the exact sizes I needed. So, I made them. Crazy, huh?

Finally, I added some green bits to simulate moss.

Mossy rocks.

Lots of mossy rocks.

That’s how I have spent part of my summer. I made white paper clay blobs into mossy rocks. Yeah, it doesn’t get any better than this. ;-D

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Since I Was Last Here . . .

It has been a crazy summer so far. I still have photos of Sebastian at Disney World that he has been bugging me to post but that might be put on hold for a bit. The bear has the patience of a saint I have to admit! I told him I wasn’t sure if anyone really wanted to see even more photos of him. He looked at me like I had just said the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard followed by the biggest eye roll in history. He makes his opinions quite obvious. Okay, Sebastian, here are just a couple for now. (He gave me the bear equivalent of two thumbs up.)

We all love Olaf and were especially excited to visit him again in his summer surroundings.  Here I am showing Olaf Sebastian’s pin lanyard with lots of Olaf and Frozen pins.  Sebastian is a huge Olaf fan!

Here’s Sebastian eating up every minute of being with Olaf and posing for a photo!

So, what have else I been up to since I was last here? I have been slowly working on bears for the Teddy Bear Artist Invitational (TBAI) show taking place in August at its new location in Syracuse, NY. I’m excited to be visiting a new place! With that end in mind, I have put a lot of time and thought into my piece for this year’s gallery and did a little dance last week when I was able to call it complete.  The theme this year is “Critters Galore . . . Bears and More!” 

In my customary practice, I took photos of my piece while it was under way. And then, I lost myself in the construction of it in the middle part so there are some gaps but I think you will be able to grasp most of the process from the ones that I did take.

I will be posting those photos over the next few weeks here, on Instagram and on the piece parade Facebook fan page. In fact, when I get buried in work and obligations, I will often post a quick photo of a bear or friend I have under construction at one or both of those places since it is quite easy to do from my phone. I just have to unearth it from beneath the chaos I call my work table. If you want to check either Instagram (pieceparade_g.brame) or Facebook, you might see a few photos that I haven’t posted here.

With that little update out of the way, I am happy to share a few photos of the beginning of the process.

This is how this project began – a sort of vague idea, a sort of vague way of getting there and two pieces of styrofoam.  I quickly determined that I only needed one and it wasn’t either of these.  Go figure.  Anywho, I like to keep the size of my pieces under a certain limit because if I didn’t, it could easily get out of control and who can house a house-sized gallery piece?!

My next step was to draw a sort of free form shape which would be the basis on which I would build the foundation.  I pretty much stuck with this shape although by the time I finished I had gone through at least four incarnations of it in styrofoam.

Then there was this:

It’s a fairly ordinary and recognizable thing, isn’t it?  A grapevine wreath.  Whatever made me think this was a good idea I have no clue.  Had I given it some real thought and turned it over in my mind more the the 50 times I had already done so, I might have gone a different direction.  But then this would be a different piece in the end, so I have to admit, crazy or not, this grapevine wreath was critical.  There’s more to come so stay tuned.

As always, thanks for reading!!!

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