Sometimes you get the itch to make something- or even have a flash of inspiration that you want to hold onto and save for later. Last winter when I was living in Thailand the thing I missed the most (after my family and friends of course) was having all my tools and craft supplies within reach so when these urges came upon me I could act on them immediately. So when I had the mermaid idea but no building supplies I did some sketches and put it on my ever growing list of things to do when I got home.
The inspiration came from a visit to Bali when we drove through a town that had a number of large driftwood sculptures lining the side of the road – the one I remember best was a horse. It occurred to me that I live 2 blocks away from a veritable driftwood warehouse so experimentation in this media was likely to be economical. But what should I build? Well the answer to that one was easy….. I am, and pretty much always have been, obsessed with mermaids- they’re definitely my spirit creatures. So mermaid it was.
First order of business is always watch some youtubes of other people making these sculptures to see how things go together. It all looked pretty straightforward in the videos so one afternoon I decided today was the day and went out and collected a bunch of wood. Big pieces for the armature and some smaller ones to shape the body and represent musculature etc. I have taken anatomy courses for various reasons ( yoga instructor training, human form sculpture class) so have a pretty good familiarity of proportions of the body (well except maybe heads and hands- those stump me). The first sculpture initially came together quite quickly so I decided to do 2.
The biggest challenge (other than those pesky heads and hands) was the hair. I tried kelp ribbons (too seamonster), beach grass (too breaky) and then a friend found a mangled bunch of aquamarine rope piled on a beach that had “mermaid hair” written all over it. The untangling took a while, and after stapling individual strands to the scull I could barely move my hands, but I think the effect was worth it.
What’s next for these ladies of the sea? Now that they have been well photographed I’m going to take them on the road. Although I’m concerned that they will feel out of sorts in the back of a pickup truck I am going to take them to a few spots around Victoria and just leave them for the day. I love rogue public art and think it would be fun to spy on people interacting with something unexpected. Stay tuned for “on location” spots (or feel free to suggest some)!