What was the inspiration behind my 2019 Santa Clauses?
Walking through the streets of Budapest at every handmade shop window stands small carvings of Ded Moroz, the symbol of Russias Winter. Nests of matryoshka dolls adorn the shelves and the idea of using my sculpture as a canvas for a painting came to me.
The direct translation for Ded Moroz is Grandfather Frost and I thought I’d use this to describe my Santa collection. It started with a Poem, ‘A Gift for Grandfather Frost’
In each stanza Grandfather Frost connects with a different animal, suggesting that the magic of Christmas comes with the idea of giving, as each animal gives Grandfather Frost a gift of their most precious thing. Each of the 8 stanzas is represented in each of the 8 sculptures in the collection.
Each one comes in a different colour, aside from the common red dress of Santa Claus. From Crimson to Turquoise and Violet each one connects with the winter wildlife, ensuring they do not get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season.
In all of my sculptures I am interested in connecting our modern day lives and culture to allow some time and compassion to our animal friends.
A Gift for Grandfather Frost
When Grandfather Frost looked up to the sky,
He met two cardinals – flying up high,
The cardinals sang a song full of cheer,
A tune for Grandfather to whistle all year
When Grandfather Frost climbed up to the roof,
He met an owl – looking rather aloof,
The owl dropped a feather that fell where he sat,
A feather for Grandfather to wear in his hat
When Grandfather Frost hopped over the wall,
He met a hedgehog – tucked into a ball,
The hedgehog shed a quill in pure delight,
A quill for Grandfather to beautifully write
When Grandfather Frost stepped into the field,
He met a peacock – with plumage revealed,
The peacock gave a show in coloured array,
A show for Grandfather to brighten his day
When Grandfather Frost hiked over the hill,
He met a hare – sat incredibly still,
The hare had a dance and jumped at such height,
A dance for Grandfather to practice each night
When Grandfather Frost jumped into the shrubs,
He met a fox – taking care of it’s cubs,
The fox gave a smile it chose to unhide,
A smile for Grandfather to feel warm inside
When Grandfather Frost sat under the tree,
He met a squirrel – as shy as can be,
The squirrel found a nut he saves for his guests,
A nut for Grandfather to eat as he rests
When Grandfather Frost walked past the fence gate,
He met a robin – just perched there in wait,
The robin told a tale that soon was unfurled,
A tale for Grandfather to share with the world
What is the process for making them?
Making each Santa is a five-step process that cannot be rushed: I sculpt each one individually from grogged porcelain and metal tools, this for me is the most enjoyable part as I’m creating something from nothing. I leave the porcelain covered for 4 days and then uncovered for a following 10 days until I’m sure it is completely dry, and it can be bisque fired.
After this initial firing I can glaze the beard and the white cuffs before he has his second and highest firing. Once it is fully cooled its time to add the gold lustre. This is highly toxic and is done in a well-ventilated area, I use a small brush to add the gold and a little goes a long way – I normally put this straight back into the kiln at this point and fire it for a final time. After this it’s time for the decoration, I use paint to add the final colour and seal each one with a gloss varnish. The final part in the process is adding the Swarovski crystals with an epoxy to add a lasting sparkle.