I was going to do a couple of blog post updates for this project as I worked on it, but due to the time crunch in getting them all finished and shipped out for Christmas I’m now posting this a little bit after the fact. I’m also just going to break it up into three main parts over three separate posts. What project am I even referring to, you ask? Well, this Christmas I decided to make gifts for my family. I made three ornaments that were portraits of the family pets. The first one I made was of my Mom’s Labradoodle, the awkward and lanky, bumbling and not-so-bright, but still well-meaning and oh-so-very-sweet Clancy. Here’s what the dog actually looks like:
I started out by drawing a rough sketch of how I wanted each of the ornaments to look. I really liked the doofy felt antlers he has in the photo, so I carried them on into the design:
I decided early on that I didn’t want to go with realism for these sculptures but rather make them in a more fun caricature style. I also wanted to purposefully use some of the more traditional childhood arts and craft materials like felt, pompoms, and pipe cleaners, just to sort of give these ornaments the overall feel of the handmade Christmas decorations that we made as kids and my Mom still has on her tree, however ragtag they have become over the years. Plus there’s the added benefit of the ornaments then being posable and less likely to break over time or get destroyed by the actual pets that they were their very inspiration.
The second ornament I designed was of my little sister’s dog Bridgette. She’s a two-faced, shrew-like, mean and ornery little Jack Russell Parson Terrier that might actually be a species of scrat and not a canine. My sister loves to call her “Angel” as she’s snarling and snapping at you with her horrible little scrat face. Here’s what she looks like on the rare occasion when she’s not snarling:
Here’s my sketch of the Bridgette ornament design:
Lastly I designed an ornament for the family cats, Max and Milton, aka The Brothers Orange. My Mom’s 20-pound twin orange tomcats that she found as newborn kittens while I was still in college in Savannah, Georgia. They were huddled together and crying in the bushes outside of my old house during a bad thunderstorm. My Mom saved them, nursed them back to health, and now they’re both enormous, obnoxious, and here to stay. The most obnoxious one by far is Max, and it was his loud nasal voice that my Mom heard in the bushes and which ended up saving them both those many years ago. Max is also mean and ornery and loves to complain more than anything else…his meow literally sounds like a grouchy old man yelling, “NOOOOOOOO!” Some of his more popular nicknames include Fat/Fatty Max, Maximum, Maxophone, Maxi Pad, and Screaming Queen Maxine. Here is Max:
Milton on the other hand, is much more mild-mannered and non-confrontational than his brother. He’s got a shy and squeaky meow that actually sounds like, “Milt!” When my Mom found him as a kitten, he was so crumpled and disheveled that at first we didn’t know if he was even going to make it. He ended up being fine of course, but he’s always been extremely skittish and possibly a little not right in the head. He has a permanent look of shock and confusion, and we legitimately wonder if every time he sees us it’s like he’s meeting us for the first time. He also once suffered the kitty version of a stroke and ended up with a little bit of paralysis in one of his hind legs, so he’s got a distinctly clumsy way of walking and an asymmetrical style of grooming his own long fluffy fur, so he always looks very rumpled in general. Some of his more popular nicknames include RumpelMiltskin, Milter Skilter, Mr. Milt, Mystery Milt, and Miltron. Here is Milton:
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Max and Milt are almost always together and move around the house as if they were just one cat.
Because of this I decided to design Max and Milt as a single ornament, like in the style of cojoined twins. This is the drawing I started with:
Later I also decided to make the string that is the hanger for the ornament actually be tangling them up together like they’ve gotten into something that they shouldn’t, which is their typical behavior. This post has gotten really long, however, so I will save the finished pieces for another one. Next up: Process